By Amin Kef (Ranger)
This medium, on January 29, 2024, was reliably informed that the Turkish Karpowership in Freetown will shut down operations due to huge arrears amounting to over thirty million dollars ($30M) and non-commitment on the part of the SLPP-led government to offset the aforementioned arrears.
It was further learned that this decision emanated as a result of the government reneging on an earlier promise made that it would settle the aforementioned arrears by the end of 2023 through the Ministry of Finance.
On November 17, 2023, Karpowership’s management issued a written 21-day notice of disconnection to the Government of Sierra Leone due to non-payment for services rendered.
On December 13, 2023, Karpowership’s management issued another written notice, this time for 14 days, expressing their intent to disconnect services if outstanding payments were not settled. The Finance Minister, once again, pledged to clear all arrears by the end of December 2023. However, as of now, no payment has been made to Karpowership.
The management of Karpowership has warned of shutting down operations if the Finance Minister persists in his unfulfilled commitments.
Against this grim backdrop, the Turkish Karpowership, which supplies 95% of electricity to Freetown, has decided to shut down operations any time soon.
It could be recalled that in September 2023, Karpowership, Sierra Leone’s main source of grid electricity, suspended operations for several days due to an unpaid bill, but the impasse was somehow micromanaged and resumption of power supply took place.
Worthy of note is that Karpowership is a Turkish company that supplies electricity to Freetown, operating power ships with floating power plants that use gas to generate electricity, which is then fed into the electricity grid.
For now, it is imminent that power outages will soon hit Freetown, with the main factor attributed to the suspension of electricity supply by the entity due to an unpaid debt totaling over $30 million.
Karpowership is a subsidiary of the Karadeniz Energy Group that 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.
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.
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.
All efforts to reach officials in the Finance Ministry were unsuccessful.
The Energy Minister, Alhaji Kanja Sesay, is expected to issue a public statement highlighting the government’s stance or position on this impending embarrassing situation.