Chair: Sarah Redicker, PhD Researcher, Global Development Institute

Please find below a recording of the first webinar in the final FutureDAMS webinar series.

This webinar presents three papers that examine the politics of Ghana’s electricity sector. The first, by Barnaby Dye, tackles the key drivers behind two major power crises in Ghana. Ghana has lurched from unprecedented shortages to electricity over-abundance, entailing spiralling debt. I highlight the role of intense electoral competition and consequent short-termist attention on maintaining power in producing these crises, alongside a dose of high modernist ideology. It contrasts these political drivers with the assumptions underpinning the ‘good governance’ reform and its application to the electricity sector, the standard reform model.

The second paper, by Pauline Destrée, looks at the impact of overcapacity on renewable energy projects and targets in Ghana. Following the energy crisis (Dumsor) of 2016, and the purchase of numerous IPPs as emergency measures, overcapacity has become a huge challenge for Ghana’s energy system. As a result, renewable energy projects have come to a stall, with a moratorium placed on new grid addition. For existing renewable energy companies and investors, renewables have become a ‘stranded asset’, unable to come online in a constrained grid. Based on ethnographic research conducted since 2014 with energy providers, policymakers, politicians, oil companies and electricity workers, I reflect on the political challenges of renewable energy futures in Ghana in a context of increased hydrocarbon dependencies.

The third paper, presented by Ishmael Ayanoore, examines the bureaucracy involved in planning and operating Ghana’s electricity sector. Despite major pressure from short-termist rationales focused on maintaining political power and using the bureaucracy to dispense patronage, the study demonstrates strong capacity, particularly in the Volta River Authority. The paper details these strengths and weaknesses and explains the factors behind them.

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