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Opinions of Tuesday, 27 March 2007

Columnist: Asamoah, Gordon Newlove

Energy Crisis & the Collapse of the Ghanaian Economy

Ghana has been experiencing energy crisis for almost ten years now but it seems nothing is being done about it. When the crisis started in the late 90s little did we know that it will be this worse.

Ghanaian governments after Nkrumah have not taken the nations’ energy as one of their top priorities. We over-rely on the Akosombo which is dictated by nature. The NDC government tried to install thermal plants at various locations which gave us about 800kilowatts of energy from Aboadze and the others. But was it enough to have solved the energy problems?

The NPP government has been in power for almost seven (7) good years and I have not seen or heard any addition to the power generation (I stand for correction).

This is a nation and government that has declared golden age of business in Ghana. How ironic? How can one do business without energy.Valco is shut down and you can count the cost of the closure, not to talk about the increase in unemployment situation in the country?

And even now that the situation is getting worse everyday, the government’s priority is not how to get alternative sources of power but how to get more money to continue the Golden Jubilee celebrations and more loans to extend the presidential palace, all of which good sums of money have gone into already. They were all properly budgeted and the necessary amount allocated to them, yet that is where the government interest lies. It was good idea the parliament did not approve of the extra money being demanded.

I was really shocked to hear them demanding more money for those two purposes. This shows that the sort of leaders we have in the country have no vision and we have misplaced priorities.

At times I wonder what President Kuffuor means by we have sound economic foundation. Foundation which is laid without energy? And we all know that energy is the fuel to enable us produce whatever we want to produce. When factories are operating at half capacity thereby increasing the prices of their goods? Think of Ghacem and cement in Ghana now. You cannot even get the cement to buy despite the high prices.

We have low inflation now but I hope you all know the simple definition of inflation. It simply means a persistent rise in the general price level. Or better still more money chasing fewer goods. So from the above definition, couple with factories closing down and others operating below capacity and selling at high price, are we not living a lie that inflation is low and will continue to be low?. The economy is collapsing and the earlier the authorities that be do something about it the better it will be for us. We should not wait till the economy grinds to a halt.

The way forward is for the government to put measures in place to curb the situation before it is too late. We have to get more thermal plants in place and stop wasting money on things that benefits only few selfish individuals, leaving the nation as a whole to suffer. If we don’t stop over reliance on the Akosombo and look for alternative sources we will wake up one day to realise the whole country has a permanent blackout and that will be very disastrous for the economy as a whole.

My advice to the government is that if we can generate at least 200 kilowatts every two years, we will have a healthy energy base to propel our economy to enhance productivity and GDP.

GORDON NEWLOVE ASAMOAH
A LECTURER AND PUBLIC POLICY ANALYST
KNUST-KUMASI


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