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General News of Wednesday, 25 May 2011

Source: Bosiako, Peter Antwi

The Electricity and Gas Shortages in Ghana – a terrible situation


For over one and half years now, Ghanaian businesses as well as individual consumers have suffered serious intermittent power outages and resultant load shedding throughout the country, especially those in the regional and district capitals without any tangible explanation from either ECG, Ghana National Grid Company or the Volta River Authority (VRA).
The power outages meant that businesses, especially the manufacturing and mining companies were thrust to buy extra fuel to run their entities. This situation forced some of the companies to cut production, resulting in an increase in prices of those items. The situation culminated the manufacturing sub-sector to dip into negative growth in the year 2010 and subsequently impacting negatively on the national GDP growth.
In December 2009 the Chief Executive Officer of VRA Mr Kwaku Awortwi, rationalized the power outages by saying that the problem with power generation and transmission of electricity would continue to persist as long as the systems at Akosombo-Dam remained obsolete. But up to today, the NDC govt has failed to come up with ideas and programs which would fix the myriad of the problems and eventually give the system a facelift to ensure reliable power supply.
Being able to identify the obvious problems facing the power generation and transmission in our country, the only decision that the president of Ghana-President Mills and his NDC government deem as the best solution, is to sell off the VRA to a private company. In working towards that decision, the NDC government on 14th April 2011 announced to Ghanaians on that the govt is closely looking at the option of listing Volta River Authority (VRA) on the Ghana Stock Exchange.
The VRA is currently worth more than one billion dollars. The government says it’s looking at selling off over 30 percent to raise about US$300 million for its long term operations. In the government justification, the Chief Executive of VRA, Kweku Awortwi ridiculously said “the move is necessary because the VRA has not had sufficient funds from the government to do medium to long-term investment”.
Now, we the members of the NPP and Ghanaians in UK and Ireland would like to state unambiguously that the NDC government’s decision to sell off this important national asset to their cronies in the name of privatisation is one of the most preposterous, unstrategic and disastrous moves. And for that matter, we are calling upon the President of Ghana, Prof. Fiifi John Evans Atta Mills to relinquish any attempt to sell off the authority.
We believe that the govt’s failure to improve on these assets does not mean that the VRA as national assets must be sold off to cover up the inability and ineptitude of the govt of Prof John Atta Mills.
As we always say: S? wo anya biribi amma woasiw a y?ngyai ?mmo no kronoo!!
We therefore urge the government to develop plans to partner the private sector to go into a diversified means of green power generation in Ghana, e.g. Photovoltaic Power Plants, Wind turbines, Solar-Wind Hybrid Power Generation, Wireless Power Generation with use of Solar Power Satellite and Rectenna, etc.
In the year 2010, it is on record that the ECG received well over $1.5 billion and also, more than $450 million received this year from the Exim Bank of the U.S and the China Exim Bank as grants and loan facilities to ensure better electricity services to Ghanaians. This was made known during President Mills’s unannounced visit to the Company in April 2010, by the General Manager, Mr. Cephas Gakpo.
The question is ‘what has happened to all these monies received by the NDC govt’?

As a solution to this perennial energy problem in the country, the visionary leader, President Kufuor envisaged the need to improve on our power generation. As such, the NPP-Kufuor’s administration managed to secure up to $622 million to construct the New Hydro Power Generation Station – the Bui Dam currently underway, which is expected to generate 400 megawatt of power in addition to our national grid.

With good supervision, the river diversion stage of the project was completed and commissioned by Prez Kufour one month ahead of the scheduled time in Nov.2008, which marked the end of phase one, paving way for the 2nd-phase, the actual dam construction. In fact, the construction on the main dam never began until December 2009 after Prof Mills took over as the president of Ghana, though it’s scheduled that the first generator should be online in 2012 and the project completion is expected in 2013. This project (the Bui Dam) is one of the biggest legacies of J.A. Kufour’s presidency in Ghana.
The unfortunate thing happening today is that this important national project is turning out as a “money making venture” for these unscrupulous NDC party officials like its General Secretary, Johnson Aseidu Nketia and his cohorts. The faith of this project is still in limbo in the minds of many Ghanaians as the NDC govt sees nothing wrong in playing politics with such an important project. As a result they have deliberately neglected the building of the Bui City in the area with simple reason that ‘that is not where the Vice President John Mahama hails from.
Can President Mills assure Ghanaians that, yes, indeed, this project will be completed on time and within cost, and also is Prof Mills going to carrying out an investigation into the Mr Asiedu Nketia’s money making activities through his So-Called block factory whilst occupying a position as a Board Member of the Bui dam project?
Unquestionably, as records show that for the past two years, Ghana as a country has experienced devastating intermittent shortage of Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG), leading to many households resorting to the use of charcoal.
These acute shortages of liquefied petroleum gas obviously have had serious adverse effect on the already poor state of the businesses and economic activities in the country and they get worsened especially during the Christmas and Easter festivities in our cities.
Every rationale human-being knows that, these unfortunate situation of power failures and gas shortages do not only affect businesses and economic activities in the country but also they have an adverse effect on academic work carried out by our students and teachers. The taxi drivers and their cars which use LPG as fuel, can testify that these unfavorable situations are terrible as they have to wait in long queues for hours at locations where gas is available.
With all these happening, the Tema Oil Refinery (TOR) has always been tight-lipped on the scarcities, pretending that all is well. Our source at TOR indicates that most of the times, the refinery has not been working, yet the president, Prof John Mills cannot conjecture this abysmal management of TOR.
It’s a known fact that during President Kufuor’s tenure Ghana never experienced such devastation of acute shortages of liquefied petroleum gas. In fact, if this is the Better Ghana Agenda President Mills promised Ghanaians, then we believe that Ghana deserves far better than what we’re seeing now.
In 2008, the NDC Manifesto promised Ghanaians that they would “double TOR’s capacity toward processing Ghana Oil”. The NDC party also promised to “make the Tano Basin gas project succeed and expand the Osagyefo Barge project” within 2 years. Unfortunately, none of these promises have been fulfilled.
We therefore want to urge the Chairman of the National Gas Development Task Force, Dr Kwesi Botchwey, to diligently expedite the works on the gas refinery project at the Jubilee oil field to help curb the acute shortages of LPG in Ghana. As we all know, the completion of the gas refinery project with the gas from the Jubilee oil fields which the commercial production started in December 2010 would accrued more than one billion US dollars annually to Ghana, apart from the actual oil revenue.
Thanks to President Kufuor and the previous NPP government for given such a bright future to Ghana but unfortunately, this bright future given Ghana has been marred and defaced with corruption under the purview of President Mills.
With the current happenings at the jubilee Oil fields, the NPP UK and Ireland would like to also take this opportunity to express our deepest concern about the report on the dysfunctional ultrasonic export flow meters on the FPSO vessel, meant to record the amount of oil exported.
We feel scandalized and shocked to learn that the “officials of the Ghana Revenue Authority and customs officials are not allowed to accompany the tankers to take records of the quantity of oil exported in light of the flow meters reported not working. It’s unacceptable for the representatives of the buyers to rather furnish the revenue agencies in Ghana with figures on the amount of oil exported. These lapses will never be tolerated in any disciplined and competent administration and the Energy Minister Dr Oteng Adjei and his Deputy Mr Enmanuel Buah must bow their heads in shame for their silence and refusal to even respond to this serious issue!
We therefore urge President Mills to instruct the operators to suspend oil exports from the Jubilee Field till the meters are calibrated and replaced by July 2011 as confirmed by the Director of Exploration and Production of the GNPC, Mr. Thomas Manu.

Thank you.
Peter Antwi Bosiako
Member,NPP UK and Ireland - Communications Committee