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Opinions of Saturday, 12 May 2007

Columnist: Nuviadenu, Kobla

The Energy Crisis - Enough of the Recycled Suggestions!!!

One of the greatest challenges confronting the country at the moment is finding a solution (if not a lasting one, at least an interim one) to our energy crisis. This is the time that calls for all “functional” hands and “live” heads to be placed on deck in salvaging the situation.

Since the problem emerged, government has tried in diverse ways to contain the situation. First was the load management exercise embarked on jointly by the ECG and the VRA in August last year. Though an unpopular decision, it has at least averted the total collapse of our energy livewire, the Akosombo Dam.

It should be emphasised that this situation we find ourselves in did not start today. There have been similar occurrences in 1983, 1984,1985,1993,1998, and 1999.

It is worth pointing out that government has not been slumbering since the crisis started. Various short and long term measures have been initiated at trying to address the problem.

In the short term, government has imported emergency power generators to augment the current energy stock. Although coming at great cost to the nation, what other option do we have at this time?

Government, through the Energy Commission and the NCCE has also embarked on a vigorous attempt to educate the citizenry on the use of energy saving bulbs and other conservation measures. The Ministries of Information and National Orientation and that of Local Government, Rural Development and Environment have also come up with directives for compliance by MDA’s so as to aid in the conservation drive.

The long term plans and initiatives include giving meaning and practicality of the Bui Dam Project which has been on the drawing board and pipeline since 1926, but which some people, are erroneously trying to create the impression that they mooted the idea. We know they are lying!! Through the untiring efforts of Hon. Addah and his team at the Ministry of Energy, the long abandoned but vital project is almost at home with us. The engineering and procurement contract for the project, which on completion is expected to cost about $600 million has been signed. The project, expected to start in June, will add about 400 megawatts of power. Kudos to the Minister and his team, as well as the Chinese Government, who trusting the NPP government to commit the money to the right use, doled out the money.

There is also the West African Gas Pipeline Project (WAGP). The Kufuor government has been a major player in this industry, a project which the NDC dilly dallied with since 1995. It is instructive to note that the Ghanaian government under the NPP has fully paid $90 million of its shares in the project. This is expected to come on stream in September and will replace our over dependence on crude (which is quite expensive) to power the Aboadze Thermal Plant

On other alternative sources of power, the Kufuor administration, being the listening government that it is, has set up a special committee to explore the possibility of using nuclear power to produce electrical energy. It is hoped that the Prof. Adzei Bekoe Committee will do its utmost best to come up with a good deal for the country.

Have you perhaps also heard of the splendid move by the Kumasi Metropolitan Assembly? They have started gathering garbage for the production of electricity. Mama Pat and co., congratulations to you and your lieutenants on such an initiative. All the best.

The above are but a few of the numerous governmental interventions in the energy sector, including dialoguing with the private sector, which has seen some like GHACEM and the Chamber of Mines rising up to the call.

Notwithstanding all the above interventions, you strangely hear of people who have no moral and intellectual justification to offer suggestions to the problem trying to pontificate solutions, which are not new anyway, to resolve the crisis. You have people that presided over the worst form of energy crisis the nation has ever been through (June 1984) professing to have solutions on hand to our predicament, although from 1983 to 1985 there was a continuum of power cuts. Very ridiculous and outrageous!!!

Where were all those people during those times? Was it that the culture of silence during that period extended to even Ministers of that regime such that they dared not offer such suggestions? Well it may not be news and a surprise especially in a regime characterised by the slapping of Vice Presidents and Ministers who differed form the position of the “one man thousand” Jerry Rawlings.

By the way what is the NDC, through its pseudo umbrella, the CJA saying? That the Energy Commission made several recommendations in its 2002-2003 annual report aimed towards averting a future crisis that was not followed? Whiles welcoming the recommendations of the Energy Commission, did the squanderers of the national kitty expect an overnight implementation of all the noble recommendations? How much did they leave in the national purse to expect such overnight achievements?

Take a look at their suggested solutions which no man on earth but they alone know:

importation of emergency power plants; making operational the 80 MW generating sets imported by the mining companies; resourcing the VRA to complete the construction and installation of its 126MW thermal plant at Tema; and energy conservation tips like encouraging the use of CFL bulbs.

The above were contained in a statement they issued on Monday, May 07, 2007. At least from the suggestions they have given above, they might want to be credited with being the repository of all solutions to the country’s energy problems. What is new in the suggestions they offered? Are these not the same measures, plus even more, that are being implemented currently? Is it just a matter of making their voices heard as if to say “we also said some”?

I believe that these recycled and carbon copied suggestions smacks of cheap, populist, and petty vituperations and do not position the NDC as an alternative government in waiting. Stop disguising yourself as the CJA and come again.

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