Electric Company Cuts the Power in the Country’s Largest City

By: Ben Campbell | Last updated: Mar 21, 2024

The capital city of a West African nation has been left without power because of an enormous, unpaid electricity bill.

Residents of Bissau, the capital of Guinea-Bissau, have been literally left in the dark, and up to 500,000 people are without electricity.

One of the World's Poorest Nations

Guinea-Bissau is a Western African nation that lies wedged between Senegal to the North and Sierra Leone to the south.

Guinea-Bissau rebel encampment 1967

Source: Ben Martin/Getty Images

Considered one of the ten poorest nations in the world, the capital city of the small nation has recently had its electricity turned off due to an unpaid bill.


500,000 Citizens Go Without Power

According to reports, the city’s power went out a few weeks ago and forced public services to resort to other means to ensure hospitals kept running.

Street view of Guinea-Bissau’s capital, Bissau

Source: Colleen Taugher/Wikipedia

Hospitals were forced to use emergency generators until the problem was resolved.

Who Wields the Power?

The power to Bissau was cut off by the Turkish company Karpowership, which has supplied numerous West African nations with power since 2019.

Letter describing an overdue electricity bill

Source: Harold M Lambert/Getty Images

According to the company, it shut off power to the city because it claims it’s owed up to $17 million in unpaid bills.

A Leader in Floating Power Plants

Karpowership is one of the world’s largest operators of floating power plants.

Transmission towers close to a powerplant

Source: Brandon Bell/Getty Images

The company is part of the larger Karadeniz Energy Group, which has supplied 100% of Guinea-Bissau’s electricity needs since 2019.

The Company Speak Out

A spokesperson for Karpowership was quick to speak out, claiming it’s doing its best to get power back to Bissau.

Spokesperson goes into detail about a specific issue

Source: Ken Jack/Getty Images

“We are working around the clock with officials to resolve this issue, and we aim to have generation back online as soon as possible,” they said in a statement.


Negotiations Between the Two Parties Are Underway

Suleiman Seidi, finance minister of Guinea-Bissau, claimed that negotiations were well underway.

Insulators on an electricity substation

Source: Christopher Furlong/Getty Images

He promised that the bill would be handled and that electricity would return to the capital in less than 15 days.


Not the First Occurence of Lack of Power

Last month, Karpowership cut off the power to Freetown, the capital of Sierra Leone.

Panoramic view of Sierra Leone’s capital city, Freetown

Source: David Hond/Wikipedia

According to reports, Guinea-Bissau’s southern neighbors were left without power following an unpaid $40 million bill.


The Compant Restores Power to the City

Karpowership eventually restored power to Bissau and its surrounding regions on October 18.

Guinea Bissau's President Umaro Sissoco Embalo speaks during a bilateral meeting

Source: Getty Images

This came after the government reportedly paid a portion of the outstanding bill.


Both Sides Agree To Renegotiate

Following the burden placed on many of the city’s services, including the hospital, the Bissau government and the Turkish Karpowership decided to have a sit-down.

A nurse looks after an orphan child amid an electricity outage at the Kherson Regional Children's hospital

Source: Chris McGrath/Getty Images

After talks, both parties agreed to negotiate the current contract to avoid any future payment or supply issues.


Powering Western Africa

Karpowership also supplies electricity to five other countries in Western Africa—Gamboa, Ivory Coast, Senegal, Mozambique, and Ghana.

Service technicians work to install the foundation for a transmission tower

Source: Brandon Bell/Getty Images

The Turkish energy company has also recently signed a deal to supply parts of South Africa with energy.


Karpowership’s Power Over Africa

Some people have voiced various concerns regarding the ever-increasing hold the Turkish company will have over the electricity of Western African nation.

A group of locals go about their day in the Western part of Africa

However, following the negotiations carried out between the Bissau government and the energy company, it appears Karpowership is willing to work with its clients to ensure the power doesn’t go off again.