The term is derived from two separate words from the Asante Twi, the Akuapem Twi or Fante dialects of the Akan language (a language spoken widely in Ghana), dum (to turn off or quench) and sɔ (to turn on or to kindle), so the term roughly translates as "off-and-on". 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.
The frequent Ghanaian blackouts are caused by a power supply shortage. Ghanaian generating capacity is currently 400-600 megawatts less than Ghana needs. Ghanaian electricity distributors regularly shed load with rolling blackouts.
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. 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.
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.
The term (Dumsor) gain prominence in August 2012, when the President Mahama led 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. Since 2012, load shedding has become a regular experience, and the country has plunged into a major power crisis.
Social and economic effects
Many Ghanaian companies are collapsing due to the irregularity of the power supply. The Institute of Statistical, Social and Economic Research (ISSER), in a recent report, stated that Ghana lost about 1 billion dollars in 2014 alone because of dumsor.
Electronic equipment has been avoidably damaged, and refrigerated food regularly spoiled. Health and safety have also been harmed, with hospitals having no light, and a lack of electricity to run fans, increasing malaria risk.
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 under the John Dramani Mahama government, 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 and Ghanaians out of frustration named the situation "dumsor". Though the Mahama government promised to fix this, they failed to do so.
The Ministry of Power was created in November 2014, using the same staff as the continuing Ministry of Energy. Ghanaian actress Yvonne Nelson started the #dumsormuststop campaign on social media. Other Ghanaian celebrities joined her. Hundreds attended a vigil in Accra on May 16, 2015 to protest against dumsor.
The word has been used by the general public in Ghana since 2012 in expressing anger, fun, mockery, worry and disappointment about the authorities and the ruling government. 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.
- Electricity sector in Ghana
- Ghana Grid Company
- Volta River Authority
- Electricity Company of Ghana
- Northern Electricity Distribution Company
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