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Feature Article of Thursday, 21 February 2013

Columnist: Thompson, Kofi

Unlock The Value In The Electricity Company Of Ghana

By Kofi Thompson

A thought struck me, as I listened to a spokesperson of the Electricity Company of Ghana (ECG) being interviewed about the power rationing exercise currently going on in Ghana, on today's Peace FM's Kokrokoo morning show.

In the hands of a more creative board and management, the ECG could indeed become a very lucrative business in future.

For example, who knows what value there is in digital services that could be delivered through all those ECG wires and cables distributing electricity to homes, businesses and public institutions across the nation?

Strategic partnerships could make that possible one day. Our ruling elites ought to empower the ECG to undertake ventures with entities it has synergy with.

For example, why should it not be allowed to leverage its organisation and structures to become a supplier of solar power systems and a manufacturer of solar panels through joint-venture partnerships? It has everything within its set-up to make such ventures profitable.

Has the time also not come for the government to empower the ECG to find partners in places like Nigeria - with its many high net worth individuals looking for a safe and peaceful bolt-hole close to home to invest some of their wealth - to build its own gas-fired power plants to make it an integrated and more solid entity financially?

(Incidentally, talking of attracting high net worth Nigerian investors to Ghana, as we speak, the highly respected Anglo-Nigerian consultancy Envirofly, seeks information from Ghanaian government sources about the idea floated by the National Petroleum Authority's Mr. Alex Mould that the Tema Oil Refinery ought to be privatised. But I digress.)

Could those in charge of the ECG not adopt a more creative approach to getting the government and its ministries, departments and agencies to pay the company what they owe it?

Surely, the Ministry of Finance would not be averse to advising government to issue the ECG and the Ghana Water Company Limited(GWCL) with long-term government paper - which they could discount to pension funds and insurance companies for cash?

Is that not a less painful financial arrangement to enable the government pay all the debt its ministries, departments and agencies owe the ECG - and the Ghana Water Company Limited (GWCL)?

Should the board and management of the two utility companies not be thinking of such novel ways of raising much-needed cash to fund the modernisation of their plant and equipment - to justify the huge compensation packages they receive?

Instead of allowing the impression to persist that the ECG is a basket-case financially, let those who have been entrusted with its management see it as a potential winner - and think creatively to unlock the undoubted value in it. A word to the wise...

Tel 027 745 3109.

Email: peakofi.thompson@gmail.com.

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