Turkish company Karpowership has restored power to Guinea-Bissau’s capital after cutting off supplies over an unpaid $15m bill. The company resumed operations late on Wednesday after receiving a $6m payment from the government. Bissau experienced nearly two days of darkness, affecting hospitals and radio stations, a country plagued by instability and one of the world’s poorest nations. In 2019, the government signed a deal with Karpowership, one of the world’s biggest floating power plant operators, to supply the country with all its power.
Energy Minister Isuf Baldé confirmed that $6m of the $15m bill has been settled. However, the contract with Karpowership needed to be renegotiated because costs had almost doubled since it came into effect, making it unaffordable. Power was cut in Bissau, a city with a population of over 400,000, in the early hours of Tuesday. Some public hospitals used generators for surgery, but they did not have running water because there was not enough electricity.
Guinea-Bissau has one of the lowest electricity connection rates in Africa, with an estimated 10% nationally and 20% in Bissau. Bissau’s electricity sector faces a downward spiral due to political instability, poor management, lack of planning, and vested interests, with frequent power outages lasting over four hours a day.