by Chris-Vincent Agyapong Febiri | May 22, 2016 4:18 am
A ruinous hallmark of a monopolistic market is the floodgate of abuse—while the inherent lack of alternative always breeds customer suffocation, exploitation and extortion.
Interestingly, this is the sort of market the Electricity Company of Ghana (ECG) has long been proudly operating in–serving as the only supplier of consumable electricity in Ghana, unprovoked and unchallenged by any real competitor.
Monopoly and exploitation are inseparable. And these two create a Byzantine bureaucracy which adds to the price woes of the ordinary consumer.
I am not an Energy expert but it doesn’t take much to deduce from the hovering power crisis and unending complaints that Ghanaians are deeply and hopelessly frustrated under the monopoly of ECG, a remnant of the once thriving conception that the provision of electricity must come from the state.
It’s insane that ECG remains the sole provider of electricity to the entire domestic Ghana and either you like it or not, you have to deal with them and gulp down their every-minute increasing tariffs on the back of their below abysmal customer service.
Irrefutably, ECG is at liberty to do whatever—the company inflates its charges faster than Donald Trump churns out his always trending political hogwash and jingoism. ECG is not under any sort of competitive pressure to even explain to customers why their meters run faster than Usain Bolt.
Ghana is not a socialist state or its extreme form, communist state; so why can’t the market be opened for competition such that ECG would be compelled to wake up from that deep slumber of incompetence and customer exploitation that it has long been freely enjoying?
My sister who moved from London to Ghana says she spends over 80 Ghs each 5 days on electricity when she doesn’t really run any heavy appliances. From our recent conversation, I figured out her anger was not solely as a result of the obvious unregulated charges of ECG but the fact that, there’s no alternative to run to—even if it wouldn’t make that much of a difference to her cost.
Several social media friends unremittingly complain about the astronomical electricity bills they are being slapped with—many are always in shock as to how quick their purchased pre-paid credits run out, especially when they only use ordinary everyday home appliances.
ECG has proudly shut down more companies than any single entity is responsible for in Ghana—perhaps, it has added company obliteration to its mandate and services.
Almost each week in UK here, I get a neatly dressed bloke or lady knocking at my door with detail package on how another company they work for can save me over 150 pounds on my electricity or water bills annually. There are several companies out here selling electricity at varying prices. This is what we need in Ghana.
In fact, you can have two companies buying power from the same source, let’s say from VRA and be able to serve electricity to customers at completely different prices. The reason being; some companies are more competent than others—and some companies wouldn’t mind cutting down their annual profits a little to keep their customers happy.
Imagine if MTN was the only telecommunication company in Ghana: wouldn’t that have been hellish and so unfortunate? And wouldn’t that have provided a fertile ground for gross exploitation? That’s the deplorable box all Ghanaians find themselves in with the tariff wolf, ECG.
On the face of it, Ghana has a Public Utility Regulatory Commission which is supposed to somewhat serve as a check on companies like ECG when it comes to tariffs but the truth is; no one can tame ECG’s incessant tariffs’ increase, except the market force of competition.
It isn’t much of a surprise when a recent survey conducted by GN Research, a multinational research company and a member of Groupe Nduom said, “most hotels in Accra are currently paying about 140 percent more for power instead of the approved 59.2 percent by Public Utilities Regulatory Commission (PURC) in December 2015.” And that “Residential consumers are also said to be having their fair share of the nightmare.”
The only plausible way to unending the excruciating stifling of Ghanaians borne out of ECG’s broad day thievery is to truncate its many years of manipulation and monopoly—other companies must step into the market to put ECG on its toes and to offer Ghanaians a reasonable alternative.
It’s difficult to comprehend why the government has not opened the door for such a simple solution, capable of even saving its own political imagine and cut down on its soaring unpopularity.
Other countries are talking about and focusing on cheaper renewable energy and here we are stuck under the tyranny of ECG and its most cherished ‘Dumsor’.
Customer service in Ghana and most parts of Africa is the crappiest we’ve ever come across; as if Ghanaians or Africans use mango leaves to pay for services. The broadband never works, the electricity is never on, the water never flows—and the waitress can keep you waiting for your food until hunger kills your buds.
The real pain is, you have no alternative to turn to—because, like a gang of fools, they are all the same.
Almost every service and product delivering company in Africa has it butt in the faces of customers, farting uncontrollably because the customer cannot really do anything. Mostly, if you quietly complain, they do nothing and if you are unlucky, they tell you to go f**k off.
Consumers have no voice, not even individual voices—let alone a collective one to force any sort of change.
So we’ve started this website-CustomerDiscuss.Com, supported by GhanaCelebrities.Com and other platforms, dedicated to corporate and public Africa, especially Ghana—-it’s time we shame some of these companies, tear down their lousy services, help them to lose customers and force them to do what’s right.
If you have a complaint about your telecom company, internet provider, a restaurant, your bank or even your church, shoot an email to us via; [email protected] or call/whatsapp 00447961817712.
When you go to a restaurant and you are served in a broken plate or on a dirty table, just take some photos and send them to us with the needed details.
Together, we can get these people to be accountable and importantly, do what’s expected of them.
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