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Opinions of Tuesday, 10 November 2015

Columnist: Anokye, Kofi

Heads Must Roll at MoP, VRA and GRIDCo

After a very careful evaluation of the energy crises, I have arrived at that conclusion that sweeping changes must be made at the headship of Ministry of Power, VRA and GRIDCo if we are to make much progress in our quest to come out of these dark times we find ourselves in as a nation.
First of all, in my honest opinion, if all the power ministry can do is to preside over the purchase of power batches, then that ministry is a complete waste of TAX payers’ money and therefore should be scrapped as soon as possible to save some coins for our already ailing economy.
It is really baffling that a whole Ministry created to bring an end to the power crisis and lead the nation into a new era where uninterrupted electricity power supply is the order of the way will identify generators as the supposed remedy for the crisis- not just today, but the foreseeable future. We don’t need an entire ministry if all we want is to purchase power barges. In fact, from the comfort of my office, I can do these purchases and even deliver faster.
I feel very sad as a Ghanaian because it is an affront on us engineers and our intellectual reasoning as a nation. All over the world, Power Batches are used as stop gab in times of emergency and not the long term solution as per the thinking of those managing our electricity.
I was particularly happy when the president promised the people of Ghana that he was going to find a permanent fix to the problem and not resort to short-term solutions due to increasing pressure from Ghanaians until I heard the supposed long-term solution will come in the form of power barges.

I knew from that point that the government has been ill advised or perhaps someone stand to benefit from the procurement of these barges.

How on earth can a team of well-paid expert and a minister paid to solve our power crises fail so woefully and still remain at post when there are better people with better ideas to solve these problems standing by.
It is only in Ghana that people are paid to manage problems instead of solving them.

In other jurisdictions, the power Minister, and leadership of VRA and GRIDCowould have been sacked or resigned with respective boards dissolved. Unfortunately this is Ghana so three years of failure to find elastic solution to widely known problem is not enough to prove that those paid to find solutions to the problem lack the ideas and competence to do so.
As a country, we make so much noise about corruption but what is really hurting us the most is incompetence. As a business man, if I employ someone to specifically manage my company and the person fails to add to the company or provide solution to specific problems, I am left with no other option than find a more competent replacement for the person. I am at a as loss as to why the State seems to operate differently.
An incompetent leader will always ask for more money to solve problem but end up compounding the problem- doing more harm than good. This exactly what the above leaders are asking for: more money but no progress.
It is time to call the bluff of the respective heads of VRA, Power Ministry and GRIDCo for their failure and make room for other people ready to do things differently.

From where I stand, I am tempted to think that these leaders are not really interested in finding proper solution to the power crises because even the worst engineer knows that power barges can never be a long term solution to the power crises. I think proper investigation must be conducted into the details and the procurement process of the barges because there is more to it.
This piece might seem harsh and bitter, but as a businessman who pays hundreds of thousands of Ghana Cedis for power and have had to depend on plant largely over the past three years, I have the right to demand for efficient leadership in dealing with the problem that is affecting almost every Ghanaian.

This is 21st century; such leadership must have no place in our country.

Suggestions for moving to solar and other alternative energy sources are a bit misplaced in my honest opinion. Apart from hydro, all other alternatives can best serve as backup up and not our main source of power supply. For a tropical region like ours, hydro has no competitor and the size of our economy makes it the best option. Solar is not just about the sun, there’s more to it.

It is only true that hydroelectric power generation faces challenges during dry seasons and that is when these generators could be relied on as a temporal means of keeping the lights on when the dams dry up and can’t operate at full capacity.
The power barges are very expensive to operate due to the high cost of fuel and high cost of maintenance because one has to take care of both the mechanical and the electrical side of the machine.
In the case of the hydro however only the electrical side is regularly maintained whiles compensation which is often paid for ‘resettlers’ are done ones a while.
In view of this, the best thing to do is to find a way to provide a permanent fix for the periodic drying up of the dam to ensure that there is an elastic solution to the recurring problem. This is what I expected the current leadership to consider and together with the ministry of Power, find a way to do it.

Engineering-wise, it is very possible and as I have stated in the past, I am ready to provide the necessary assistance, technically as a patriotic citizen to help.

To solve the problem of occasional drying out of the dams recycling pumps could be built into the hydro-electric dam from the nearest water source so that shortages which occur could completely be taken care of. This can be done at Akosombo and anywhere hydro-electric Dams will be constructed. I have given details on how it can be done in the past and not a single engineer from VRA disputed it.

To me for any leadership to advice the government of the day to use these power barges as a means of resolving a national energy crisis is either incompetent or deliberately playing dumb due to their own selfish interest.
We paid them to think and improve our wellbeing and not to bring us unnecessary bills which will add more burdens to our already heavy loads.
The fact that not a single person has been sacked or resigned in relation to the crises despite three years of dum sor is an indication that as a nation, we are not serious and have yet to come to the 21st century party.

The bitter truth is that if we are to keep these people regardless of their incompetence, then we have to be ready to pay the over 100% tariffs increment currently being pushed for because that is what it means to use power barges. This is the result of resorting to power barges and we should be ready to pay even more in the future because it will only get worse. There is not much difference between using power barges nationally and using a generator privately.
We cannot place that burden at the doorstep of government because it will collapse our economy. We must pay the price if we endorse these failed leaders and keep wasting our money on them.

We need to move forward and if are to, then there must be changes, heads must roll right from the top. I rest my case

Watch out for my next piece: Electricity Power Politics- Why we are where we are

Kofi Anokye
(CEO- Koans Building Solutions)