Sierra Leone hit by power cuts after Turkish power ship switches off supply

Sierra Leone hit by power cuts after Turkish power ship switches off supply
Turkish engineers work onboard the Fatmagul Sultan floating power plant moored off the shore of the Lebanese town of Zouk Mosbeh, northern of Beirut, Lebanon, 19 September 2018. EPA-EFE/NABIL MOUNZER

FREETOWN, Sept 8 (Reuters) - Sierra Leone's capital Freetown has been hit by power cuts after Turkey's Karpowership switched off the electricity supply due to an unpaid debt of around $40 million, the energy minister said on Friday.

Minister Kanja Sesay told Reuters that the outstanding amount “was accrued over time because the government subsidises more than half the cost the ship charges per kilowatt hour”.

He said the government had to spend more on the subsidy because it charges consumers in the weak local Leone currency, one of worst performing against the dollar in which it pays the power provider.

A government commission has been set up to review consumer electricity tariffs which could double.

Karpowership, one of the world’s largest operators of floating power plants and part of the Karadeniz Energy Group, signed deals in 2018 and 2020 to provide electricity to Sierra Leone’s state power utility.

The company has made similar deals with several African countries that are struggling with electricity supply.

Karpowership could not be reached for comment.

The company says on its website that it had deployed around 65 megawatt power generation capacity to Sierra Leone since 2020 and has been supplying 80% of its total electricity needs.

Sesay said the switch-off by Karpowership had reduced electricity supply to the capital by 13%. Electricity is now being rationed in the capital with homes and business going without electricity for hours daily.

Karpower is one of three sources of electricity to the city – the other two includes the country’s hydro dam, and power from an interconnection with Ivory Coast which also supplies Guinea and Liberia.

Sesay said Karpower supply is mostly needed during the dry season when water levels at its dam are low. Dependence on the firm is reduced during the rainy season. The country is currently at the peak of its May to November rainy season.

By Umaru Fofana

(Reporting by Umaru Fofana Writing by Bate Felix, Editing by Angus MacSwan)


Comments - Please in order to comment.

  • Jane Crankshaw says:

    I hope the ANC hierarchy reads this story- a forewarning of how things could turn out if they persist with this ridiculous energy alternative!

    • Dee Bee says:

      Jane, you’re assuming the corrupt comrades give a damn? If anything, they’ll be relishing the chaos it causes as it gives them even more opportunity to steal.

  • Ewan says:

    And our geniuses want to sign a 20 year deal for 1350 MW when 65 is nearly bankrupting Seirra Leone. Clever fellows our chaps. This must be the 8 th location where KPS has run into controversy. No African or developing nation should be pegging most of their power needs against a dollar price. Idiocy. Another example why KPS is mot needed and why a Brics currency is desperately needed to be able to reprice energy flows on a non dollarised basis.

    • Gretha Erasmus says:

      Precisely. Karpowership contracts have caused issues in many countries. The only people who think it’s a good idea are those who have something to gain from the contracts. All the rest of us know that we should far rather spend the money on power items that cannot simply sail off into the distance at a moments notice. Private south Africans have already put up the equivalent of a power station in terms of solar power. That is not going to sail off and unplug. Spend the money for grid upgrades so people can send excess power back into the grid, not on some stupid powership that only helps a few connected elites and themselves, definitely not the countries they give power 5o.

    • Fanie Rajesh Ngabiso says:

      What we need is to fix our own power generation.

      I really don’t get why another currency would help at all (I simply see more chaos and corruption resulting from it) – please could someone elaborate.

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