ACCRA (Reuters) – Ghana’s parliament was thrown into darkness by a power outage on Wednesday, leading to jeers from the opposition as MPs flipped open their mobile phones to use as flashlights.
The blackout, which held up proceedings in the 275-member house for nearly an hour according to officials and lawmakers, was symbolic of the energy crisis the West African nation has been wrestling with for three years.
“The lights went off suddenly and the (meeting) chamber was plunged into darkness…it happened in the middle of a debate on a loan agreement for the transport sector,” Richard Quarshiga, the member of parliament for Keta constituency told Reuters.
Economic growth in Ghana, once a favourite of investors in Africa, has been slowed by a fiscal crisis that has forced the government to seek International Monetary Fund support and undermined its reputation abroad for financial management.
But it is the energy crisis that has most sapped business confidence at home and angered ordinary Ghanaians ahead of elections next year.
Parliamentary reporter Kenneth Sackey told Reuters there were jeers from some opposition MPs while others were seen using their mobile phones for light.
Ebenezer Djietror, a senior clerk, told Reuters that parliament had a backup diesel generator but it failed to kick in during the outage due to a mechanical glitch.
President John Dramani Mahama, who promised to fix the energy crisis by December, has ordered emergency power ships from Dubai and Turkey.
The government has also signed agreements with various private sector power providers including General Electric to build thermal plants to boost Ghana’s generating capacity.
(Reporting by Kwasi Kpodo; Editing by Hugh Lawson)