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In Ghana, a dumsor (Akan pronunciation: [dum sɔ] 'off and on') is a persistent, irregular, and unpredictable electric power outage.[1] The frequent Ghanaian blackouts are caused by power supply shortage. Ghanaian generating capacity is currently 400-600 megawatts less than Ghana needs.[2] Ghanaian electricity distributors regularly shed load with rolling blackouts.[3]

At the beginning of 2015, the dumsor schedule went from 24 hours with light and 12 without to 12 hours with light and 24 without.[1][4] The long blackouts contrast with the practice in other countries, where blackouts roll rapidly so that no residential area is without power for more than one hour at a time.[5][6]

The re-introduction of dumsor in 2019 without publishing the requisite load shedding schedule came along with the term dumsaa[7] meaning off for a considerably long time or off all the time [8]


The term is derived from two separate words from the Asante Twi, the Akuapem Twi or Fante dialects of the Akan language:dum ('to turn off or quench') and ('to turn on or to kindle'), so the term roughly translates as "off-and-on".[1] The term has also recently evolved into dum dum: sɔ no mma ('off and off'), due to the increase in the intensity of the power outages.[9]

In 2018, a new term was coined by the energy minister who referred to the dumsor as dum kraa as compared to the intermittent power outages now dum so as the country faces outages.[10]

By early 2019, Ghanaians began to experience another wave of a controversial dumsor or load shedding, whose schedule was not published as was the norm [11]. Ghana's Parliament was even divided on how to call it. This thus ushered in the term dumsaa[12]: supposedly, a superlative form of dumsor.

While officials of Ghana's energy sector regulators claimed that dumsaa, the new wave of dumsor, was due to transmission failures [13], sector analysts believed dumsaa was a matter of gross corporate liquidity [14] mismanagement.


Ghana's power supply became erratic in early 2001. There was reduced generation capacity, due to a significant drop in water levels at the Akosombo Dam (Ghana's main hydro-electric dam). Water levels rose and the power crisis was temporarily resolved in late 2008.

In August 2012, the government told Ghanaians that a ship's anchor cut the West African Gas Pipeline (WAGP), forcing gas turbines to shut down for lack of fuel.[3][15][16] Since 2012, load shedding has become a regular experience, and the country has plunged into a major power crisis.

Social and economic effects[edit]

Many Ghanaian companies were collapsing due to the irregularity of the power supply. The Institute of Statistical, Social and Economic Research (ISSER), in a report, stated that Ghana lost about 1 billion dollars in 2014 alone because of dumsor [17]. A woman in labour at the Bawku Presby Hospital who gave birth and was on oxygen lost both her life and that of the unborn baby after power supply went off in February 2016 [18]

Electronic equipment has been avoidably damaged, and refrigerated food regularly spoiled [3] Health and safety was also harmed, with hospitals having no light, and electricity to run fans, contributed to an increasing malaria risk [1].

Dumsor negatively affected Ghana's hosting of the AFCON 2008.[citation needed]

Political effects[edit]

The 2004-2005 load shedding period happened under President John Agyekum Kufuor's administration but was not too frequent as during the tenure of John Dramani Mahama. The 2009–2011 load shedding period began when John Dramani Mahama was in government as Vice President. After the death of then-President John Evans Atta Mills during when the persistent on and off nature of the power supply in the country became abhorrent, Ghanaians out of frustration named the situation "dumsor". Though the Mahama government promised to fix this, they failed to do so.

The Ghanaian transmission system has been criticized by the World Bank for its poor financial and operational practices.[19]

The Ghanaian Ministry of Power was created in November 2014, using the same staff as the continuing Ghanaian Ministry of Energy [20]. Ghanaian actress Yvonne Nelson then started the #dumsormuststop campaign on social media and other Ghanaian celebrities joined her. Subsequently, hundreds attended a vigil in Accra on May 16, 2015 to protest against dumsor [21] [22]


The Ghanaian government has plans to diversify its energy sources, using more renewables. It is also working to encourage energy conservation.[3]


The word has been used by the general public in Ghana since 2012 [23] in expressing anger, fun, mockery, worry and disappointment about the authorities and the ruling government. [24]

[25] It has also gained popularity via social media websites such as Twitter and Facebook with the hashtag #Dumsor. In 2015, John Mahama used the word in a state visit to Germany while talking with Angela Merkel. He said he has been nicknamed "Mr. Dumsor" due to the power crisis, which he attributed to Nigeria for not supplying gas as required to Ghana through the West Africa Gas Pipeline.[2]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d "Lights Out in Accra: Dumsor Gets Worse". kajsaha.com. 2 February 2015. Retrieved 28 May 2015.
  2. ^ a b "I've been named 'Mr Dumsor' in Ghana – Prez Mahama tells Ghanaians in Germany - See more at:". Graphic Online. Graphic Communications Group Limited (G.C.G.L). 21 January 2015. Retrieved 2 March 2015.
  3. ^ a b c d Agbenyega, E. (10 April 2014). "Ghana's power crisis: What about renewable energy?". graphic.com.gh. Retrieved 8 February 2015.
  4. ^ "24-hr light-out in new loadshedding timetable? | Regional News 2015-01-31". Ghanaweb.com. 31 January 2015. Retrieved 28 May 2015.
  5. ^ "Newfoundland power outage worsens after Holyrood incident - Newfoundland & Labrador - CBC News". Cbc.ca. Retrieved 28 May 2015.
  6. ^ Gerein, Keith (9 July 2012). "Rolling electricity blackouts strike Edmonton and across the province". Wayback.archive.org. Archived from the original on 18 July 2012. Retrieved 28 May 2015.CS1 maint: BOT: original-url status unknown (link)
  7. ^ "Parliament divided over whether to call power outages 'dumsor' or not". Retrieved 17 February 2019.
  8. ^ "Parliament divided over whether to call power outages 'dumsor' or not". Retrieved 17 February 2019.
  9. ^ "Ghana: Mahama Cannot Stop the Dumdum!". allAfrica.com. Ghanaian Chronicle. Retrieved 14 August 2015.
  10. ^ Apinga, David. "Expect some "dumsor" but not "dum kraa" – Amewu". www.classfmonline.com. Retrieved 29 November 2018.
  11. ^ "Power Consumers in Ghana not happy with recent outages". Retrieved 1 February 2019.
  12. ^ "Parliament divided over whether to call power outages 'dumsor' or not". Retrieved 17 February 2019.
  13. ^ "Transmission failures cause of recent 'dumsor'–ECG Nov 20, 2018". Retrieved 15 February 2019.
  14. ^ "Dumsor' due to "liquidity challenges". Retrieved 14 February 2019.
  15. ^ "West Africa : Pirates cut off the gas" (PDF). Wayback.archive.org. Archived from the original on 30 December 2013. Retrieved 28 May 2015.CS1 maint: BOT: original-url status unknown (link)
  16. ^ "Perez takes over at WAGPCo - BUSINESS, IT & Telecomms". Dailyindependentnig.com. 12 November 2013. Archived from the original on 16 January 2014. Retrieved 28 May 2015.
  17. ^ Ackah, Charles (2015). Electricity Insecurity and Its Impact on Micro and Small Businesses in Ghana. ISSER - University of Ghana.
  18. ^ Cite error: The named reference Anawini Albert was invoked but never defined (see the help page).
  19. ^ "ECG will make or break Ghanas power sector". Archived from the original on 20 August 2014. Retrieved 17 May 2015.
  20. ^ "Mahama: Min of Power will end 'dumsor' & bring investors". Wayback.archive.org. Archived from the original on 18 February 2015. Retrieved 28 May 2015.CS1 maint: BOT: original-url status unknown (link)
  21. ^ "Thousands turn up for #Dumsormuststop vigil". Thegeneraltelegraph.com. 16 May 2015. Archived from the original on 28 January 2019. Retrieved 28 May 2015.
  22. ^ "Ghana's Load Shedding end for 2015". newsghana.com.gh. News Ghana. Retrieved 30 December 2015.
  23. ^ "Ghana Electricity Outage Dumsor-Dumsaa: AL Jazeera".
  24. ^ "Dumsor chased me out of Ghana-Slim Busterr".
  25. ^ "Black Wednesday Dumsor plunges Flagstaff House into total darkness".