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‘.