Thursday 3rd February 15:00 – 16:30 GMT


  • Barnaby Dye: When the Means Become the Ends: Ghana’s ‘Good Governance’ Electricity Reform Overwhelmed by the Politics of Power Crises
  • Pauline DestreeRenewables as ‘Stranded Assets’: overcapacity and energy transitions in Ghana
  • Ismael Ayanoore: The Dynamic Equilibrium of State Effectiveness: The factors eroding and supporting Ghana’s ‘State within a State’ – the Volta River Authority

This panel combines three papers examining 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. Dye will 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, contrasting 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 Destree, 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, Destree will 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.

%d bloggers like this: