Dumsor Must Stop

People often ask what it’s like to move back to Ghana. Some may even be wondering what this “dumsor” (meaning the electricity is on and off, “dum”=off, “sor”=on) issue is and why it occasionally trends online. I will shine my perspective on the matter in hopes it gives others an idea of what life can be like in Accra. It’s not all bad, but there are some realities that you have to be prepared to face if you cross over… one of those realities is inconsistent electricity.

I never knew the value of electricity until the Electricity Company of Ghana decided to “play god” with people’s lives.

When I first started experiencing the effects of dumsor, I thought it was going to be a cute temporary problem. It would be dark for a few hours a week and afterwards I’d work a little harder to recoup the lost hours of productivity.

But I was wrong.

The implications of the gross electricity shortage we are experiencing in Accra is devastating. These are extreme adjectives for what I believe is an extreme situation.

Let’s break down the day.

You wake up with no electricity. For some people that means it will be difficult to pump water into their houses for brushing teeth/ showering etc. It means that if you want to quickly warm food in the microwave [assuming you have one] while you get ready for the day ahead – you can’t. You have to factor extra time into warming or cooking on the stove. If for any reason you didn’t take the time to iron your clothes when ECG last graced your house with light, you have to find an outfit that is appropriate for the day ahead and not wrinkled.

If you are fortunate/ unfortunate to work from home like I do it means you have to start looking for alternative places to work. Public places usually require a purchase of sorts (cafes, restaurants etc) and even if you have friends/family that can accommodate you – you still have to pay for the transportation where ever they are.

Also, like me, if you have a building project you’re working on, when there’s no light you can’t work because the tools your workforce are supposed to use to fix your building will need electricity to power them. So a project that should take a month could easily extent to three months or more, especially when you consider our current situation of having light for 12 hours then none for 24.

And as the clock slowly ticks towards 6PM (the general cutoff/on point for electricity provision) anxiety builds within you because you can’t tell if ECG will bring back the electricity – or keep it off. There is no “real” schedule.

Let’s break down the night.

You had no light during the day and it’s your turn to get electricity overnight.

You may end up like me catching up on work and deprive yourself of sleep. If you deprive yourself of sleep long enough it becomes more than a productivity issue – it now effects health.

You can walk down the street relatively unafraid because the street lights are on . When you get home you’re thankful that there is electricity because if you have an electric fence you can power it. Safety is not a big issue that night if ECG permits.

Heat is also not an issue because you can run fans and air conditioners in the 30C+ heat you may be experiencing.

Sure, you can get around ECG by investing in an invertor or generator but then you end up paying two bills. The gas bill and the electric bill.


This dumsor issue is not a cute inconvenience anymore (if it ever was). It’s an issue that can, in my case, cause you to structure most of your life around the capabilities of an electric company.

There is no moral of this story and there are no constructive suggestions. These are just some of the things I’ve experienced since moving to Accra. Though, I haven’t been sharing often, I intend to share more.

It’s not always “rosy” and I wish to go back to USA many times but I stay for my personal “big picture”.

If you’d like to know more about my big picture visit my other blog; ‘Journey to Print‘.


The A-Z of Ghana (Part 1)


Ghana used to be called the Gold Coast, an indication of its great wealth. It features 10 regions and over 12 million cities, towns and villages. It is the first country in sub-Saharan Africa to attain independence from colonial rule.

I’m pleased to present you the A-Z of this beautiful west African powerhouse.

A – Accra

The nation’s capital is here and is often known as “the industrial headquarters of Ghana”. It is the gateway to the outside world both by air and by sea. It is also the seat of government and the first taste of the richness of Ghana for any visitor.

B – Bosomtwi

Lake Bosumtwi, also sometimes spelled Bosomtwe, is a lake formed by an ancient meteorite strike in the Ashanti Region. The name means ‘Antelope god’ because it is said to be discovered by a hunter chasing an antelope that disappeared into the lake. The lake is seen as very sacred place to the Ashanti people who live in the area. It is about a half an hour drive from Kumasi. The shore is dotted with villages and it is believed the population in the area is close to 70,000.

C – Culture

Ghana is a country of diverse and harmonious cultures which make the nation an exciting and peaceful place to visit. The Akans, are the largest, and potentially the oldest Ghanaian tribe. They are predominantly found in the Ashanti region. They possess great wealth and rich cultural heritage.

The Fantes, Ewes and Gas are spread along the coastal areas with the Hausa, Dagomba and Dagbani located in the Northern parts of Ghana.

D – Development

Ghana is the hub of many new and existing technologies! It has become a go-to place for many foreign investors, thus bringing positive diversifying effects on the nation’s economy. From multi-million dollar franchises to several e-commerce platforms, Ghana is fast becoming a one-stop destination for many businesses and investors.

E – Evergreen

As depicted in the flag of this nation, the green represents the flourishing agricultural and horticultural embodiment of Ghana. Wherever you go, the land is viable for cultivation of several crops and the production of livestock. Evergreen forests, as well as amazing landscapes, add to the already beautiful nature of the country.

F – Festivals

When you think of festivals world-wide, with rich heritage, culture and tradition, look no further, Ghana is the place for you! From bi-weekly to yearly festivals, food festivals, and war-reminiscent festivals, you are likely to be “dazzled” all year round. Many people from all walks of life travel here to witness firsthand the rich culture on display.

Notable festivals include the Afahye, Hogbetsotso, Homowo, Kundum and Akwasidae.

G – Gold

Gold is a major export commodity for Ghana, with this precious metal bringing in nearly 48% of the country’s revenue. After South Africa, Ghana is the largest gold producer in Africa. Ghana’s largest mine is Tarkwa, owned by Gold Fields Ltd. The Tarkwa Gold Mine is located in south-western Ghana, about 300 kilometers west of Accra. The gold is also used to make beautiful ornaments and regalia which are worn by chiefs and traditional leaders on special occasions, including durbars, festivals and national events. Also many women wear golden bracelets, rings and necklaces during their marriage ceremonies.

I hope you enjoyed the first part of this four-part series.

How Real Estate VAT Could Affect Ghana’s Economy TODAY

New tax has both positive and negative implications

Ghana’s capital, Accra, is one of Africa’s leading real estate investment destinations. Today, Ghana’s real estate industry is set to be included in the list of sectors subject to value added tax (VAT).

VAT is a type of consumption tax that is placed on a product whenever value is added at each stage of production and at final consumption. Liable VAT entities collect the money on behalf of the government. In Ghana, the flat VAT rate charged is 17.5%. For real estate, however, VAT has been pegged at five%.

Property expert Lamudi Ghana investigated the likely implications of the VAT for the sector and the country’s economy:

Increased Revenue

The introduction of VAT on real estate will raise more revenue for the government. With a growing domestic debt, the revenue generated from this tax will offer some respite for the government. In addition to slowing down the debt rate, the government should be able to channel funds set aside for real estate into other sectors of the economy.

Individual Homes not Affected

The VAT on real estate only affects commercial and residential properties developed by real estate developers. Individuals looking to build their own homes are exempt from this tax. This means that individuals can continue to build freely without the additional tax component.

A 5% Cushion

Even though the law states that every entity liable for VAT should pay 17.5% on the value addition, real estate developers were able to negotiate a fair deal for the industry. The government, in consultation with stakeholders, decided on a five% VAT that could ease the tax burden on developers and consumers to some extent.

Affordable Housing Investment

A real estate VAT could boost investment in affordable properties in Ghana. With a widening housing gap annually, the government could reinvest the generated revenue into the real estate industry. Data from the Ghana Statistical Service shows that over 60% of households living in urban areas do not own a home. A survey conducted by Lamudi also shows that households want to own a home, but at a more economical price. Using the real estate VAT revenue, the government could embark on key projects such as land banking to reduce land costs and enter into economic partnerships with private developers to construct affordable housing.

The positive effects of this VAT could bode well for the Ghanaian economy. However, there are a few negative implications that should considered. Below is a list of some of potential scenarios:

Reduction in Sales

Research shows that newly introduced taxes discourages consumer spending. The result is a likely reduction in real estate expenditure by house-hunters in the short term. Developers are likely to be affected, with a reduction in sales revenue a likely scenario.

Lower Tax Revenue

Taxes are intended to generate revenue for governments. A tax on price inelastic products such as salt or sugar is unlikely to lead to lower revenue. However, real estate is price elastic and demand could be affected by an increase in price. As such, projected revenue could fall and the government’s coffers could suffer as a result.

Stunted Real Estate Growth

Real estate has become a key driver for many countries around the world. In Africa, countries such as Kenya and Ethiopia have seen a surge in real estate investment which has helped boost their economies. Ghana has made positive gains in real estate growth for the most part of the last seven years. Unfortunately, an added tax component could lead to slower growth for the industry. According to the Ghana Statistical Service, real estate, professional, administrative and support service activities recorded a negative growth of 1.5% in 2014. The introduction of VAT on real estate is likely to further burden real estate developers, culminating in a slower growth rate.

Higher Mortgage Rates

The mortgage sector is another sensitive aspect of the real estate industry. Rates are determined by inflation rates, foreign exchange and property prices. A VAT on real estate would mean an increase in property prices. The other challenge is the fact that some house-hunters are likely to be excluded from mortgages when the new tax comes into force. For instance, the current value of a two-bedroom house is $200,000. A house-hunter looking to buy this property meets this requirement, with a maximum mortgage eligibility of $200,000. The introduction of VAT would increase the price of the house to $210,000, excluding this house-hunter from qualifying for a mortgage.

VAT can be a means of rescuing the real estate sector. However, this has to be done in a manner that does not affect the industry negatively.

Public Transportation in Accra #TroTroDiaries

My Friday night was pretty tameScreenshot 2015-09-06 09.41.31, when I imagine what you may expect from a single mid-twenty-something woman…

After a series of meetings during the day, I embarked, on what I imagined would be a pretty straight-forward journey to my home.

If only transportation in Accra would be so simple.

There is “Friday traffic”.

What is Friday traffic?

Well, I don’t actually know.

There is a commonly accepted theory that Fridays have the most traffic, though I’m yet to find a suitable explanation as to why Fridays are so unique in the traffic situation in Accra.

It is not unheard of for people to leave the office early to beat this infamous traffic.

Anyway, I’m not here to complain about traffic. Let’s talk public transportation.

On this Friday, due to “Friday traffic”, my commute doubled. I took the local bus service, “tro tro”, and was unable to get a seat on my route for quite some time.

My tro tro finally came and I was in shock as I fought not to fall and hurt myself as the crowd pressed into my back. I saw a man push a woman aggressively to get a seat.

I saw a man push a woman aggressively to get a seat.

Think what you like, but I do believe in chivalry. I do believe in men physically protecting women, and I expect that. To see a woman get pushed aside for a bus seat, because of “Friday traffic” appalled me.

However, the aggression is not exclusive to men. I don’t understand why, for the most part, people were so impatient [we all wanted to get home] and willing to put everyone around them in mild physical danger just to get home…

Does this post help at all?

Probably not – but I wanted to talk about it anyway.

5 Things You Should Know About the Chale Wote Festival

image1-17I’ve been in Ghana for almost two years now and never been to the Chale Wote Festival. As a Creative, admitting this is quite “sad”, but I intend to rectify my past mistakes by going to the festival this year.

The Chale Wote Street Art Festival is reputed for its art performances right on the street. This year’s edition is tagged African Electronics and will be happening from August 20 – 23.

Here are a few things I’ve been told that make the festival spectacular:

1. Live On the Street
The Jamestown District welcomes everyone to live showcases on the street! For four days various artists and art enthusiasts will take to the streets to display their creativity. The district in itself is significant for its part in the colonial history of the city, Accra. Chale Wote turns the streets into an open gallery, while highlighting the history and culture of the people of this area.image2-20
2. All About Alternative Art
Chale Wote is a platform to create a unique interaction between arts, performance, music and fashion before a live audience on the streets. The festival is a cultural outlet that features varying forms of art. The streets of Jamestown offer everyone the opportunity to be “one with art”.

Chale Wote features graffiti murals, interactive installations, street art and performances, fashion parades, street boxing, cultural dance, spoken word and many more creative art forms.

image3-233. Open Runway
If you choose to make a fashion statement when you attend the festival; you will be in good company. The street fashion game is “top notch” at the festival. There will also be fashion designers at the festival showcasing their creative designs on the Open Runway.
4. Food Marketplace
Ghanaian Food. Need we say more?

5. Unlimited Fun for Free!
The festival is a proof that the best things in life are free. There is no gate fee to attend.

Apart from the arts, food and music; you can check out other showcases like the extreme sports, skating and motorcycle stunts.

See you soon I hope! If you will be visiting Accra, for the festival, you can book hotels around Jamestown using the 10% discount code CHALEWOTE on Jovago.com.