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Opinions of Wednesday, 22 June 2016

Columnist: Baafi, Alex Bossman

Dumsor in midst of killer electricity tariff worrying

During the State of the Nation Address (SOA) in 2015, President Mahama indicted his predecessors for mismanaging the power (electricity) situation in the country. He expressed that former Presidents, Rawlings, Kuffour and late Mills did little to guarantee sufficient power for the socio-economic development of the country.

He pledged heaven and earth to fix instead of manage the power situation; a promise that won the hearts of well-meaning Ghanaians and the business community. As he articulated, “I John Dramani Mahama Will Fix It”

The power Minister who was appointed declared in haste that-come end of December 2015-Ghana would be free forever from the power crisis otherwise known as dumsor.

To demonstrate that he meant business, he mortgaged his promise with his job. A pledge he was forced to honour when failure crowned his effort at the end of the day. Power minister took bold measures and expanded the power infrastructure by bringing KARPOWER 200 MW in addition to the AMERI 250MW to augment the installed capacity of the country.

By the end of December 2015, the power situation somehow stabilized, and that during the State of the Nation Address of 2016, the President told parliament in bold language that he was a man of his words and that dumsor had been fixed. He based his evidence on the fact that since November 2015, to the time of his delivery, dumsor had been consigned to history.

Subsequently, the deputy Power Minister, John Dginapor emphasized that, in addition to fixing dumsor, President Mahama and his Government had a reserve margin of 7% of power for the country. He expressed the need for consumers to pay a higher tariff for constant and reliable supply of power. Since dumsor is a monster, consumers agreed to pay reasonably more to get electricity.

It is rather unfortunate that the increase in the electricity tariff was not measured. The government took undue advantage of desperate consumers need for electricity to add Value Added Tax (VAT) and levies to milk consumers to the last atom of their lives. Indeed, the killer tariff had had a major devastating effect on businesses and human livelihood in the country. What has made the situation hopeless is that dumsor is back. The authorities took everybody for granted that dumsor had become a thing of the past.

Some of us had argued that the way Power Ministry was tackling the crisis was not the permanent solution to the problem; the approach was one-sided.

Proponents who were against the advent of Karpower and Ameri argued, though unsuccessful, that by the nature of their contracts, it would prove very expensive. They averred that we must invest in our already installed capacity by first: fixing an existing installation such as T3 at Aboadze, curry out the combined cycle (100MW) on TT1PP (126MW) and CENIT Thelma Power Plant (126 MW) all in Tema in addition to the installation of the Kpone Thermal (KTPP) 220MW.

The wisdom in these proposed investments would have been that Ghanaians own these plants in the first place. Again, the 650MW that would have been added would be more than the 450 MW we realize from both Karpower and Ameri put together which now consumers are paying through their noses.

Also going forward, one critical factor the authorities must focus on is the source(s) of fuel (Both Oil & Gas). As Thelma Power is becoming more and more relevant in addition to our dams (Akosombo, Kpong & Bui), we must explore more sources for oil and gas to fuel our plants.

Unfortunately, this important factor in the equation of power generation has been discounted. For example, we know that the gas supply from Ghana Gas is not sufficient for all our plants, but we abused the contract we have with N-Gas of Nigeria by not paying our bills estimated over $160million. What kind of business mentality is that? I simply do not understand.

As I write, the volume of gas from Nigeria had been curtailed to the extent that the Asogli plant which depends solely on gas with the capacity of 350MW is idling whilst businesses and other domestic consumers of electricity are battling with dumsor. In addition, the Mines Reserve Plant (MRP) 80MW and Siemens 50MW are all not working for lack of gas.

The short-term solution to the current shortfall of electricity supply is for the authorities to settle the debt they owe to N-Gas of Nigeria for them to resume the supply of gas and stop taking us for a ride. It is absolutely unacceptable that after paying cut-throat tariff for electricity, we still have to put up with dumsor. Is that the best that this government can do? It’s a shame.