Freetown Faces Blackout as Karpowership Suspends Electricity Supply due to Unsettled Debt

Power outages have started hitting Freetown with the main factor attributed to the suspension of electricity supply by Turkey’s Karpowership due to an unpaid debt totaling approximately $40 million.

The Minister of Energy, Alhaji Kanja Sesay, has confirmed the disruptions disclosing how the accumulated debt had grown over time due to Government heavily subsidizing over half of the cost per kilowatt-hour charged by the ship. He furthered that the substantial subsidy expenditure is necessitated by the fact that the Government bills consumers in the local Leone currency, which has been one of the weakest performers against the dollar, the currency used to settle payments to the power provider.

As a way of addressing  the crisis, the Government has established a Commission tasked with reviewing consumer electricity tariffs, potentially leading to a doubling of rates.

Karpowership, a prominent operator of floating power plants globally and a subsidiary of the Karadeniz Energy Group, had entered into agreements in 2018 and 2020 to supply electricity to Sierra Leone’s state power utility. The company has previously struck similar deals with several African nations grappling with electricity shortages.

As of now, Karpowership has not issued an official statement regarding the suspension of power supply to Sierra Leone.

According to the company’s website, it has been providing Sierra Leone with approximately 65 megawatts of power generation capacity since 2020, covering 80 percent of the nation’s total electricity needs.

The Energy Minister revealed how the discontinuation of Karpowership’s services has resulted in a 13 percent reduction in electricity supply to the capital. As a consequence, electricity is currently being rationed in Freetown, with homes and businesses enduring daily hours-long power outages.

Karpowership serves as one of three primary sources of electricity for Freetown, with the others being the country’s hydro dam and power supplied through an interconnection with Ivory Coast, which also provides electricity to Guinea and Liberia.

The Energy Minister also divulged that Karpowership’s supply becomes particularly crucial during the dry season when water levels at the country’s hydro dam drop significantly. Conversely, during the rainy season, which runs from May to November and is currently at its peak, the country’s dependence on Karpowership diminishes.


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