By Alpha Oumar Diallo & Bangaly Kourouma
CONAKRY, Guinea (Inzuna) – Nearly three years after the establishment of Alpha Condé’s government in the Republic of Guinea, on Africa’s West coast, the president and his team are struggling to find a solution to the lack of electricity, which results in rolling blackouts that last sometimes up to 96 hours.
From the beginning of April, several districts of Conakry have experienced simultaneous demonstrations against the government by the political opposition and angry youth chanting, “Electricity! Electricity!” and “No EDG! No EDG!”. The acronym stands for ‘Electricity of Guinea’ (EDG), the power company that supplies electricity to the country.
All this is despite the fact that Guinea is the source of many major West African rivers, such as the Gambia and Niger, which gives it great potential to develop hydroelectric power. Experts say this could give it enough energy not only to keep up with current demand but supply surrounding countries as well.
Alpha Condé’s government was elected in 2010 on a platform of supplying energy to all. In August, 2011, the government signed an agreement with China International Water for the construction of a hydroelectric dam with the capacity of 240.5 megawatts to be constructed in Kaleta, about 150 km northwest of the capital, Conakry.
However, pending the completion of the dam, the capital region is in turmoil. Disgruntled citizens, including many youth, are stopping traffic on major roads using large stone blocks and burning tires. Heightening tensions have worried citizens and observers alike prompting a prominent radio personality to say, “vagabonds are harassing people on the street”.
In response to the unrest, the president recently dismissed Abdoulaye Keita, Coordinator of Electricity of Guinea. Although this has not relieved demands by demonstrators who
continue to protest disrupting traffic and business around the capital.
Officially, $400 million has been invested in the electricity sector but with minimal results besides the purchase of some electricity poles and other equipment.
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