Freetown hit with power cuts after Turkish power ship switches off supply

Sierra Leone’s capital Freetown is experiencing power outages as Turkey’s Karpowership has suspended electricity supply due to an outstanding debt of approximately $40 million, energy minister announced on Friday.

Minister Kanja Sesay informed media that the unpaid sum accumulated gradually due to the government subsidizing over half of the per-kilowatt-hour charges imposed by the ship.

He explained that the government had to increase its subsidy expenditure because it bills consumers in the weaker local Leone currency, which is one of the poorest performers against the U.S. dollar, the currency used to pay the power provider.

A government committee has been established to assess consumer electricity tariffs, with the possibility of them doubling.

Karpowership, a large operator of floating power facilities worldwide and a subsidiary of the Karadeniz Energy Group, entered into agreements in 2018 and 2020 to supply electricity to Sierra Leone’s state power utility.

The company has forged agreements with numerous African nations grappling with electricity supply challenges.

According to its website, the company has provided Sierra Leone with approximately 65 megawatts of power generation capacity since 2020, fulfilling 80% of the nation’s total electricity requirements.

Sesay noted that Karpowership’s cessation of operations had led to a 13% decrease in electricity provision to the capital. As a result, electricity in the city is currently being rationed, with both residences and businesses experiencing daily hours-long power cuts.

Karpower represents one of the three electricity sources for the city. The other two sources comprise the nation’s hydroelectric dam and power obtained through an interconnection with Ivory Coast, which also serves Guinea and Liberia.

Sesay said that Karpower’s supply is primarily in demand during the dry season when water levels at the dam are low, but the country’s reliance on the company decreases during the rainy season.

Sierra Leone is presently experiencing the peak of its rainy season, which typically spans from May to November.

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