Utility Tariffs to Go Up: Ghana Connect Debate on Joy FM

In the news the last couple of days, we could read that the Public Utility Regulatory Commission (PURC) is having talks with government, initiated by the Volta River Authority (VRA) the biggest power producer in Ghana, on increasing tariffs for electricity and water. See  this Joy FM report for instance.

I have been invited to share my views on JoyFMs new program Ghana Connect – a program that allows regular Ghanaians – and myself – to voice our opinions together with stakeholders. Tonight VRA has been invited.

The producer/host sent me this blurb:

“Utility tariffs are set to go up. The only question now remains when and not if.  You must be prepared to pay as much as 166 per cent more for electricity and water than you are paying now. The expert consultations have already started but on Ghana Connect this Friday, we connect the Ghanaian consumer in Ghana and beyond to interrogate the proposed tariff increases. Are you ready to pay more and how much is enough?”

My argument in brief is:
  1. At some point we need to pay what utilities actually cost in order for the service to be sustainable.
  2. Utility subsidies favor middle and upper class people more than the poor as generators and poly tanks use more than dumso-dumso and buckets.
  3. Electricity production is complicated, but there is NO REASON why Ghana should not be able to provide potable water for its population.
  4. Increasing prices by more than 100% is not advisable as ripple effects are huge and people need to plan expenses. What is the plan for the next five years?
  5. On the other hand, private solutions (batteries/generators and pure/bottled water cost much much more) and from a Swedish perspective we have a lot to win from solving these issues together rather than apart.

As I sent out an email to BloggingGhana about this radio program, many of our members provided their two pesewas – so this issue is HOT!  Someone called the increase “draconian” another person said “I would prefer to pay, than to pretend to be paying bills as they also pretend to be giving me a service.”

Tune in at 6.30 PM if you want to hear me voice my views.