The Electricity Company of Ghana (ECG) is still working to resolve the technical challenge it was experiencing in vending for prepaid consumers on E-cash and PNS metering systems of the company.
The systems have been down for the past four days, since Tuesday, September 27, 2022.
There is power available but many consumers on the prepaid system are unable to top-up their credits to connect to power and have therefore had to resort to sleeping in darkness.
We have gathered from sources within ECG that the systems have been compromised by external sources who are currently controlling the source codes and have refused to release them to the ECG.
ECG has not made any statement about the said cyber-attack except a series of announcements informing the public about the technical challenge it was experiencing with the smooth operation of the prepaid system and an assurance to customers that it was working “assiduously to rectify the anomaly.”
We understand ECG has called for support to help resolve the problem and still working on it.
Officials from National Security and the Cyber Security Authority are on hand working with the ECG to help restore the systems.
Aside that, the ECG is currently undertaking a comprehensive audit of its system to establish what caused the technical failure that has affected service to many of its prepaid customers around the country.
National Security and the Cyber Security Authority are supporting to determine what could have happened to the system and how to forestall a future recurrence, we understand.
There is a high suspicion of the system having been hacked, hence the support from the Cyber Security Authority.
Extended working hours at district offices
In a third announcement issued on Friday night (September 30, 2022) on the anomaly as part of a series of announcements the ECG has been making since Wednesday, the ECG said due to the technical challenge, “the company will extend its working hours at all district offices this weekend as follows:
Saturday, 1st October, 2022 – 9.00am – 4.00pm
Sunday, 2nd October, 2022 – 9.00am – 4.00pm
Already, the Public Utilities Regulatory Commission (PURC) has said it was closely monitoring the challenges experienced in the vending for prepaid system of the ECG.
A statement signed by the Executive Secretary of the PURC, Dr Ishmael Ackah on Thursday assured "all affected customers of its commitment to ensuring the delivery of a safe and reliable utility service provision and to have the issue resolved quickly."
The challenges confronting the ECG is currently being experienced with all prepaid metering system nationwide.
This has resulted in some customers unable to top-up electric power credit on prepaid metres for the past four days.
The technical challenge has affected customers in 10 operational regional areas of the ECG in Volta, Kumasi, Accra, Takoradi, Tema, Cape Coast, Kasoa, Winneba, Swedru, Koforidua, Nkawkaw, and Tafo.
Some customers initially started experiencing the problem on Monday and as of Friday night, it was yet to be completely fixed.
"Some of the systems have been fixed but not all," Charles Nii Ayiku Ayiku, General Manager in charge of external communications at ECG said.
"We are working very hard to make sure that we get all the systems in place," he added.
Mr Ayiku said the issue is for some customers and not all customers and that the challenge was detected and fixed, "but some of the systems were not able to respond. So, it is not all our customers that are experiencing this challenge," he said.
Frustrated ECG customers mass up at ECG office in Tema
A number of consumers on Friday massed up on the premises of the ECG at the Community 11 District Office in Tema to express concern over their inability to buy credit for their prepaid meters.
Graphic Online's Benjamin Xornam Glover reports from Tema that the customers from different suburbs of Tema as well as Ashaiman and Kpone, formed long queues as they desperately tried to gain entry to purchase power with their prepaid cards.
It was a charged atmosphere as the customers started shouting and calling on the ECG staff, whom they claimed had frustrated them and demanded that officials be sacked.
"We've been buying power successfully in the past without hitches until someone decided to introduce new meters and system, see how we are suffering?" said one customer.
"My power has been off since Wednesday and my family and I have had to sleep in darkness. Food items stored in my freezer have all gone bad, that is how bad the situation has been," said another frustrated customer who gave her name as Agnes.
Another customer said if it would take hours to wait to be served, he will, because the thought of spending another day in darkness was unbearable.
Situation in Cape Coast
Shirley Asiedu-Addo reports from Cape Coast that there was a long queue of hundreds seeking to buy power at the ECG main office at Tantri, the only sale point on Friday morning.
They had come from around Cape Coast to purchase electricity credit.
The long queue reduced by afternoon as ECG officials worked to ensure order and smooth sale.
The Regional Public Relations Officer of ECG, Awal Boye said the system started working on Thursday and they had to stay to continue serving customers till 10pm.
He said four prepaid sale points in the region including Cape Coast, Kasoa, Swedru and Winneba were all now selling credit.