On Saturday, November 5, 2022, Vice President Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia attended the Hogbetsotso festival of the Anlo people in the Volta Region.
At the event, Dr. Bawumia said the government’s investment in public social infrastructure was unmatched, and that the government had now made available services that had not existed prior to the coming into office of the Akufo-Addo administration.
The milieu of achievements announced by the vice president included the claim that the government had absorbed the water bills of Ghanaians for the whole year.
Fact-Check Ghana presents the facts surrounding government’s supply of free water and electricity to households in Ghana.
Claim: “…For the first time in our history, a government gave Ghanaians free water and free electricity for a whole year.”
Explanation: President Akufo-Addo in his address to the nation on coronavirus in 2020 announced the first water reprieve for April, May, and June.
Later in July, the finance minister, Ken Ofori-Atta, announced an extension of the relief for three more months during the mid-year budget to parliament.
Another extension announced by the government on September 23, 2020, took access to free water to some Ghanaians to the end of the year 2020.
This means that the government gave access to free water for the months of April, May, June, July, August, September, November and December.
That amounts to 8 months of access to free water for some Ghanaians, and not the entire year.
Data from the recent Ghana Living Standards Survey (GLSS) 7 stated that state-owned water providers; the Ghana Water Company Limited ( GWCL) (39.2%), Community Operated and Managed Water Systems (20.8%), and the Community Water Sanitation Agency ( CWSA) (4.0%) cumulatively serve only 64% of households in Ghana. The remaining 36% of the population rely on water supply from non-governmental organisation (NGOs), wells, natural sources (rivers, streams, dugouts etc.), tanker supply/vendor provided, sachet and bottled water.
In its Multiple Dimensional Poverty report published in June 2020, the Ghana Statistical Service indicated that its national censored headcount ratios in 2017 identify about 17.8 percent of Ghanaians who do not have access to water.
Similarly, the Ghana Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey 2017/18 ( MICS 6) report published by the Ghana Statistical Service and other agencies indicated that 30.8 percent of 12,886 persons interviewed across Ghana have their own source of water with improved conditions, whilst 14% of the same population do have access to unimproved water sources.
Few weeks into the president’s announcement of free water, some parts of the country, especially in Greater Accra and Central regions, experienced severe water shortages. At a point areas such as Adentan, Madina, Teshie, La, Achimota, Ashaiman, Tema and Kasoa did not have access to water for a week.
The Director of Communications of the GWCL, Stanley Martey, admitted to the acute water shortages when he assured consumers on Asempa FM’s Ekosii Sen programme on May 18, 2020, that “in Tema and Kpone, we have had challenges in the area but from today, they will get water.”
Not long after the government’s announcement of the provision of free water, the GWCL said its customers who were already disconnected would not enjoy the free water from the government.
Many residents in these areas were, therefore, forced to depend on commercial and vendor tanker supplies or other available sources of water other than government supplied.
On the provision of electricity, government provided electricity to over 4 million lifeline customers and almost 700 thousand large and small businesses.
The President at the time indicated that “the government will fully absorb electricity bills for the poorest of the poor.”
He explained that “for all lifeline consumers, that is free electricity for persons who consume zero to 50 kilowatts a month for this period.”
The finance minister, Ken Ofori-Atta, affirmed this when he announced a three-month extension of the relief during the mid-year budget to parliament in July 2020.
“ It takes a caring government to be for the people and for business, large and small, to choose to subsidies electricity consumption by 50% to 4,086,286 households and 686,522 businesses at a cost of GHS 1.2 billion in three months,” he told Parliament.
Therefore, even though the government provided cost-free water to many households and electricity for lifeline customers in the country, it is inaccurate when the Vice President said that government gave Ghanaians free water and free electricity for a whole year.
YOU MAY ALSO WANT TO READ: