Power Shortage Plagues Ghana’s Small Businesses

Power Shortage Plagues Ghana’s Small Businesses

ACCRA, Ghana -- Henry Kobby, 22, opened his family's store here, which sells drinks and food, 18 months ago. But what seemed like a viable business idea in early 2006 is now undermined by power shortages that occur at least 24 hours of every three days.

When the power goes, so does the refrigerator Kobby needs to keep the drinks cold and the microwave he uses to warm up the pies and pastries.

The power cuts began last August when low water levels were registered at Ghana's southeastern Akosombo Dam, the country's major source of electricity, which forced the government to ration its supply. At first, the outages occurred once every five days, then every three days; eventually, they increased to 12-hour cuts every two days.

"Business really turns off when the power goes off," Kobby said. "I close not at the time I'm supposed to close because people will not be around."

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