In its latest effort to reap the fruits of a digitized economy, the government of Ghana has announced plans to launch a mobile application that will enable its citizens to purchase electricity from their phones.
Much like airtime top-up, the initiative means Ghanaians who under the umbrella of the Electricity Company of Ghana (ECG) will not have to visit sales points to get prepaid credit.
The announcement, which was made yesterday by Vice President Mahamudu Bawumia in Kumasi, comes as a relief mostly for customers who pay electricity bills at night.
The hurdles associated with getting prepaid credit at dusk has been lamented by many Ghanaians, who either raise security or reliability concerns.
Ghana is one country in Africa known to produce more electricity than it actually needs. The problem, which costs the country USD 450 Mn for power it does not use, has probably made it resort to exporting electricity to Mali by 2023.
There’s a similar issues in its gas sector. Because the government has contracted gas supply on a take-or-pay basis, it needs to pay, regardless whether it is used or not.
From 2020, if nothing changes, Ghana will face annual excess gas capacity charges of between USD 550 Mn and USD 850 Mn yearly. This is even after the current government terminated two other liquefied natural gas contracts in 2017.
As a result, Ghana is currently holding talks to re-negotiate supply deals with the power companies. It has put USD 1 Bn aside to get the country out of the mire.
Interestingly, though, Ghana did not have enough power about 5 years ago.
Choosing to roll out this mobile application is swell idea, as it would enable the inclusion of more customers into Ghana’s electrification play.
If a phone app makes it easier to buy directly from the power company, it could make more people actually consume more electricity.
Also, the digital purchase of power would make it possible for Ghanaians to buy electricity for each other, all phone swipes and taps on smartphone screens. So doing, anyone can initiate a transaction from anywhere, for anyone – thus more power is consumed.
On its part, the government says the plan comes in the line of its efforts to do away with inefficiencies and corruption plaguing the power system.
Featured Image: Kukua