COVID-19 : Akufo-Addo eases burden on businesses, households

  • Free power for the poor
  • Halves electricity bills for commercial and private residents

President Nana Addo-Dankwa Akufo-Addo has taken steps to further reduce the social and economic impact that the coronavirus pandemic has brought on businesses and households, this time, adjusting downwards the cost of power.

Speaking at the seat of the presidency in Accra last Thursday, the president said, beginning this month through to June, electricity will be free for the poorest of the poor, i.e, persons who consume zero to fifty (50) kilowatt hours a month; and a 50 percent reduction for all other consumers – both residential and commercial – using the March 2020 bill as the benchmark.

It comes after he took a similar decision less than a week ago when he made water free in the entire country for the same period mentioned above – all with the view to alleviate the burden of the pandemic on citizens as he extends the lock down by a week.

“This is being done to support industry, enterprises and the service sector in these difficult times, and to provide some relief to households for lost income. Nevertheless, I urge all Ghanaians to exercise discipline in their use of water and electricity,” he said.

These measures have become more necessary especially when the pandemic has caused many to lose their income and livelihoods, and eroded many economies gains achieved over the years. Businesses have shut down, trading activities have ground to a halt, companies are letting staff go home, and borders have been closed. In fact, the World Bank has projected many countries in Sub-Sahara Africa to enter into a recession due to the pandemic.

Finance Minister, Ken Ofori-Atta also said in his statement in parliament to brief the nation on how the pandemic will impact the country that GDP will grow at 1.5 percent in view of the partial lock down, making it the worst performance in 37 years when the economy went into recession in 1983.

Current cases and progress in the fight

As of the time the President gave his speech, a total of 378 confirmed cases of infections had been recorded, out of which six have died, four recoveries have been made, and two are in critical condition and the remaining 370 are mild cases responding to treatment and are in isolation in their homes or at treatment centres.

Thus far, 37,405 samples have been taken, of which 31,933 are in Accra, 5,472 are in Kumasi. As at Wednesday, 8th April, a total of fourteen 14,611 contacts of the samples collected have been tested for the virus in Accra and Kumasi. For Accra, 11,308 contacts which were tested, and 52 of them, representing 0.46 percent, were found to be positive.

In Kumasi, 3,303 contacts have been tested, and 25 of them, representing 0.7 percent have been found to be positive. In total, 77 positive cases were recorded in Accra and Kumasi, which represents 0.5 percent of the 14,611 have been tested.

Also, this week, some 10,000 additional samples will be taken. This, the President said, will give the country the clearest picture to enable government take decision on the way forward.

He further appealed to all in the country, to continue complying with all the measures that have been advised by experts to contain the spread of the disease, and government orders restricting movements.

“I appeal to you, let us, in the meantime, continue to comply with the measures, let us maintain good hygiene and respect the social distancing protocols, even when you are going out to receive the food. But, above all, please stay at home,” the President said.

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