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Opinions of Tuesday, 10 March 2015

Columnist: Ametor-Quarmyne, E. M. N.

Mahama’s Energy Pledge

…………. And The Doubting Amin Adam
By E. M. N. Ametor-Qyarmyne

“Challenges would come our way, but believing in ourselves and working together, we shall overcome them.”
“Our defining spirit as Ghanaians is that we have picked ourselves up each time we have fallen and continued to walk on.”

President John Dramani Mahama, State of the Nation Address, 26th February, 2015, Accra, Ghana.

The above quotations were two very deeply inspiring statements delivered by the President of the Republic of Ghana, His Excellency John Dramani Mahama, on the occasion of his third STATE OF THE NATION ADDRESS, delivered to the people of Ghana, through Parliament on the 26th of February, 2015, forenoon. They were meant to encourage us, that as a people, we are able to overcome even the most seemingly intractable problems that confront us, if we put our shoulders to the task together as one nation.
It is in this vein that I am a bit disheartened by recent statements attributed to the Executive Director of the African Centre for Energy Policy(ACEP), Mr. Amin Adam, to the effect that the President’s promise to the nation to end the current power crisis in the country, by the end of this year, cannot be fulfilled. “Our energy crisis will not end. It will be better for President Mahama to tell Ghanaians the truth than to give them expectations he won’t be able to meet.”, Amin Adam was reported to have stated to the media on Monday 2nd March, 2015, in reaction to the President’s assurance to the nation.
The President had stated emphatically in his address to the nation regarding the energy problem, “ We have been here before. In 1983, 1998, and 2006/2007 we suffered a similar occurrence. In the past, what we have done has been to manage the situation. I do not intend to manage the situation as has been done in the past. I intend to fix it. I owe it to the Ghanaian people. I John Dramani Mahama will fix this energy challenge.” These were the exact words and promise of the President of the Republic of Ghana to an expectant nation.
It is most difficult to understand the premise of Mr. Amin Adam and his African Centre for Energy Policy(ACEP), in disputing the President’s promise. The President had enumerated specific steps and actions being undertaken, first, to bring a stop to the present debilitating power rationing and finally to make sure that this canker of power shortages never afflict this country again in the future. “As an immediate measure to resolve the current crisis, I have authorized the Ministry of Power to procure and feed into the system, 1,000 Megawatts of emergency power. Guarantees are currently being agreed for the following:
1. Karpower ship (Turkey) 450MW
2. APR (United Arab Emirates-UAE) 250MW
3. General Electric(GE) 300MW “
He emphasized that “The Ministry of Power estimates that this emergency power can be rolled out in months to bring relief to the system.” These were the specific short term measures that are being worked on to be fed into our power generation system. A 1,000Megawatts of power must indeed bring a big relief to the system as current daily power deficit is estimated to be between 450MW to 600MW.
It does seem that the major preoccupation of most of these so called non-governmental organizations calling themselves think tanks, is to condemn the actions and programmes of the NDC Government, or at best to cast doubts on them, and if it suites them to impugn corruption to them without prove of any kind whatsoever.
In the particular case as above, that was what Amin Adam and his colleagues had to say about the arrangements for the procurement of emergency power by the Government. According to media reports, Mr. Amin Adam raised series of issues relating to transparency, and accountability in the procurement of the emergency power and that the deal left more questions than answers, raising concerns for value for money, claiming that the Karpower ship could have been purchased outright at US$200million rather than the US$700million rental over ten(10) years. These sentiments leave sour tastes in the mouth of discerning readers, seeing that those concerns were publicly expressed at a time when Mr. Amin Adam and his colleagues at the ACEP did not have the details of the final arrangements for these emergency power purchases, as they themselves confirmed at the tail end of their press interaction.
What ACEP had conveniently hidden from the people was that emergency power badges are not manufactured and stocked, awaiting customers to come and buy them like clothes or shoes in a store.
If a company or country wants to purchase these power badges directly from manufacturers, an order has to placed first and then the customer would have to join a queue and wait for as long as it would take for the equipment to be manufactured. That certainly is not what we need in this crucial period regarding what we are facing presently. That is why companies or countries in need of emergency power have to go to companies that specialize in providing services in this area, which already have these emergency power ships/badges available for renting or leasing, among them is Karpower of Turkey. To solve our short term emergency needs we do not have an option but to go to these intermediaries.
Is it the advice of Amin Adam and his ACEP that we should join the line for the next two or three years or even more, waiting to obtain our own emergency powership/badge, while we endure this excruciating problems brought on our heads by a power shortage which is threatening to collapse our industries and businesses?
For those who know Amin Adam, and his associate Peter Amewu, they would not be surprised at the posture and pronouncements that come from their so called think tank, African Centre for Energy Policy(ACEP). They have tended to use their organization to countervail almost all or most NDC Government policies in the energy sector, without providing their own original ideas.
Mr. Amin Adam, the Executive Director of ACEP, is a dyed-in-the-wool politician of the New Patriotic Party(NPP) mold. He was the Metropolitan Chief Executive(MCE) for Tamale, and a former Deputy Regional Minister in the Northern Region during the rule of the New Patriotic Party from 2001 to 2008. His other colleague, Mr. Peter Amewu, who is heard most often on radio stations condemning every government policy and initiative in the energy sector, and impugning corruption to the government is the present Volta Regional Chairman of the New Patriotic Party(NPP). Before his election to that position in 2014, he was the Hohoe District Chief Executive(DCE) also in the Volta Region, during the NPP’s term under President J. A. Kufuor.
While it is possible for someone with an active political background to discharge his or her responsibilities in a new position dispassionately, and without overt political considerations or colourations, most of the pronouncements of ACEP under the leadership of these two top notches do betray them as overly partisan; not being able to wean themselves off their NPP political umbilical cord.
With regards to the President’s avowed determination to add 3,665MW of electrical power to the nation’s electricity stock in the next five to six years, in order to bring a permanent closure to our debilitating perennial energy short fall, ACEP was inordinately quick to pour condemnation on the President’s promise to be an unattainable gimmick. “We see the promise by our President to be a big dream. 3,800MW in 5years is indeed a big dream”. “This will be unprecedented given that this capacity will be more than all our installed capacity of our country built over 50years from the era of Dr. Kwame Nkrumah to date-2846MW”, Mr. Amin Adam was reported to have told a group of Journalists on 2nd March, 2015 at ACEP’s Madina offices, near Accra. Further, the report said, “ Amin Adam could not fathom where government would obtain an extra gas supply of 500mmscfd to fuel the plants to generate 3,800MW.”
Even I, as a ‘Non-Energy Expert’ can proffer some common sense answers to the questions raised by Messrs. Amin Adam and company, during their said media engagement. And these are not far to fathom.
The President in his State of the Nation Address outlined in detail how he expected the 3,665MW of electric power to be realized and also indicated the source of fuel to power the plants mentioned to provide the 3,665 Megawatts of power. In the unfortunate event that Mr. Amin Adam and his colleagues at ACEP have conveniently decided to forget or ignore it, may I humbly plead to re-state the President’s position to them.
This was what the President said : “Following power purchase agreements entered into with several Independent Power Producers(IPPs), and plants that VRA is currently working on, we expect, starting from this year and over the next 5years to inject 3,665MW into our power transmission grid, the breakdown is as follows:
1. SUNON ASOGLI (PHASE II) 360WM
2. SUNON ASOGLI COAL FIRED 750MW
3. CEN POWER 350MW
4. JACOBSEN 360MW
5. AMANDI 240MW
6. GENERAL ELECTRIC(GE) 1,000MW
7. VRA (T4) 185MW
8. VRA (KTPP) 220MW ”
It is important to realize that with the exception of the VRA projects, with a total output of 405MW, all the rest of the above projects are to be realized from private independent power producers with Government facilitation. Even more interesting is the fact that some of these projects such as Sunon Asogli (phase ii) and CenPower have actually already started with commissioning of the projects undertaken. Others such as Jacobsen and Amandi have already cleared Parliamentary scrutiny and obtained the necessary approvals to commence. A Memorandum of understanding has been signed with General Electric Corporation of the United States for the 1,000MW of power, and further negotiations with Government are on-going for the final realization of this very important power project.
But you see, dear reader, such behavior of Messrs. Amin Adam and Peter Amewu falls in perfect tandem with the character and form of the leaders of the Danquah-Busia political tradition(the NPP) to which they belong.
A similar unpatriotic behavior was put up by Dr. Kofi Abrefa Busia, co-founder of the Danquah-Busia political tradition (the NPP tradition), when Dr. Kwame Nkrumah was soliciting funds from the World Bank and US in the early 1960s to construct the Akosombo hydroeletric project, to fuel Ghana’s industrialization. While Dr. Nkrumah was at pains to have that project realized, Dr. Busia was globetrotting from one western capital to another, from London to Washington, including, meetings with the United States Senate Foreign Relations Committee, pleading with them in vain to prevail on the World Bank not to grant the loan to Ghana because, as he put it, Dr. Nkrumah was a Communist.
With regards to ACEP’s concern of where Ghana would get the fuel to power such a gargantuan project, the answer is very simple and it was provided by the President himself in his State of the Nation Address:
From mainly Ghana’s own domestic oil and gas resources
Two major new oil and gas projects are currently being undertaken in Ghana with huge potentials for large scale gas production. The US$7billion Eni-Vitol-GNPC-Sankofa project with the estimated capacity to produce over 1.5trillion cubic feet of gas and 500million barrels of oil is one such project. It has been described by the World Bank as “a top priority for Ghana, as it will underpin the growth of domestic thermal power sector and accelerate Ghana’s industrial development.” The Tweneboa-Enyera-Ntumi(TEN) project being undertaken by Messrs. Tullow and its collaborators, who also are the operators of the present jubilee fields is another. These two projects are scheduled to come on stream between 2016 to 2018 thereabouts. As the President himself put it “Gas supplies are expected to rise in 2016, when production begins in the TEN field. Just three weeks ago, I witnessed the signing of an agreement to begin work on the Eni-Vitol-Sankofa field into operation. This investment is worth US$7billion and is reportedly the single biggest investment signed in recent history. The operationalization of TEN and Sankofa will bring Ghana’s gas production to above 300million standard cubic feet daily.”
Even if the gas produced from Ghana’s own new sources is not enough to fuel the thermal power projects coming on stream, as envisaged, additional gas requirements can always be sourced from the international gas market. The President recently paid a state visit to the Kingdom of Qatar purposely to woo investment in that regard.
Some Ghanaian companies have already sensed this and are readying themselves to take advantage of the opportunities such huge new projects provide for business. One such company is the Quantum Ghana Gas Company which is developing an off-shore gas infrastructure facility off-shore Tema, to supply liquefied natural gas(LNG) to power generation facilities in the Tema-Kpone enclave, where Sunon Asogli, Jacobsen, CenPower, VRA and others are located. Interestingly most of the new projects have targeted this enclave for location of their plants.
As you read this article, lots of new explorations are going on in Ghana’s demarcated oil blocks stretching from Cape Three Points in the Western Region to the Keta Basin in the Volta Region. With God’s blessings, Ghana will discover more oil and gas resources in commercial quantities to continue to give us the revenues and the gas we need to fuel our power requirements and fund our development well into the future.
So, when the President of the Republic, who is the embodiment and spirit of the nation makes a solemn pledge before his people, he must have well known exactly how he would redeem himself and the nation. And the President chose his words carefully and advisedly.
‘DUMSOR’ shall surely end for Ghanaians to have their lights back.