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Opinions of Saturday, 11 May 2019

Columnist: Cameron Duodu

Nana, they want to ‘Ajacelona’ you!

Who had a doubt that Barcelona would trash Liverpool?

Who even imagined that Spurs, after losing at home to Ajax, would be able to tame the Dutch lions in their own lair? Even though they would be facing the Dutch without Harry Kane?

Football often reflects real life, and so I want to warn His Excellency Nana Akufo-Addo that there are signs that perhaps his Cabinet, nay Party, has become rather effete and isn’t working as hard and cleverly to solve the problems of the country as will win them re-election.

Listen to this: I know a fashionable area of Accra where there has been a power outage every single week in the past five weeks. Sometimes, an outage lasts for a good 24 hours!

When that happens, does one throw away things that are at risk of rotting in the dead fridge? Or dare one use them and hope that the microbes in them won’t “bite”?

Often, a power outage also causes water not to flow into pipes, for domestic or industrial use. No washing of hands! The Ghana Water Company has been alerting its consumers to the effect of power outages on water supplies. What a curse: losing both electricity and water in one’s home!!

Why are the outages occurring? The electricity-producing company may experience a shortage of fuel supplies or failures in hydro-electric power production. But isn’t there something known as planning? We are told some of the outages are caused by planned maintenance. But mustn’t this planning include reserves (where fuel is concerned) or the installation of spare capacity (mechanically speaking) that can be called upon when the need arises?

For politicians, the thing to note is that the power-outage problem has become a tell-tale signal that has been given a derisory local name, dums?,. Everyone can mention that as an index of performance in relation to ma Government.

Not only that – the supply – or non-supply – of power has become the trigger-point for suspected corruption. Scandals in recent times.

“Former Energy Minister Kwabena Donkor and the Ameri deal.”

“The Phillip Addison delegation to Dubai on renegotiating – the Ameri deal.”

“Former Energy Minister Boakye Agyarko fired over – the Ameri deal renegotiating proposal.”

Wouldn’t one have thought that enough shady deals have gone on in our power sector as to make whoever is put in charge of it realise that he was being asked to walk on hot coals?

But our Cabinet can float bonds on international markets without batting an eyelid – just to balance the books of a Bank of Ghana which can lavish tax-payers’ money on errant banks and micro-finance institutions which, having been given money to “clean up” their act, do not scruple to lend money fraudulently to their own board members! Some of this money was even used establish competing banks! Ugh!

We can also lay hands on huge sums of money from foreign banks to finance the cocoa purchases of the Cocobod year after year after year. Why can’t we consider whether raising finance locally is an option? If we can do it for cocoa, why can’t we do it for power, anyway? Say what you like – the outages are the answer. We somehow cannot plan well enough to provide constant power for domestic and industrial consumption. The issue is this: is the job impossible or is its efficient discharge being killed at birth by sociopolitical phenomena of which the public is unaware?

To begin with, isn’t the structure of our power industry unwieldy? Remember the Peter Principle: all the corporate bodies involved will be striving to rise to the level of their own incompetence. So the more the bodies, the worse their output!

Once, we had a Volta River Authority which was a “one-stop” shop when it came to both generating and distributing power. But what is the situation now?

QUOTE: “There are seven public institutions involved in the power sector. These are the Ministry of Power (MOP), Energy Commission (EC), Public Utility Regulatory Commission (PURC), Volta River Authority (VRA), Ghana Grid Company (GridCo), Electricity Company of Ghana Limited (ECG). The Northern Electricity Department Company (NEDCo),

a subsidiary of the VRA. Energy Foundation is a private-public sector partnership to promote energy efficiency and conservation countrywide. Independent Power Producers (IPPs) are also private sector players”. UNQUOTE

Are there not too many hands in the electricity income pot? Is there not a likelihood that “turf wars” will occur among them and cause inefficiencies? Each body has its own board of directors, management board, departmental and personnel accommodation facilities and other overheads. Isn’t the charge on energy consumers who pay for all this too much? Is that why electricity charges are so high that people do get cut off, sometimes on a weekly basis?

In fact, a new complication has been introduced into this already-hydra-headed energy edifice: since 1 March 2019, the assets and operations of the Electricity Company of Ghana Limited (ECG) have been transferred to a new company called Power Distribution Services Ghana (PDS). This is a consortium whose members are Meralco Consortium- partnered AEnergia SA, an Angolan company; and three “Ghanaian companies” — TG Energy Solution Ghana Limited, Santa Power limited and GTS Power Limited. For the next 20 years, the PDS Ghana Limited will be the electricity service provider in all of the ECG’s operational areas in the Southern Distribution Zone of Ghana, including Greater Accra, Eastern, Volta, Central and Western regions.

Can one smell something more than “planned routine maintenance” in the power outages we have been experiencing in Accra? Are there e powerful elements in the electricity industry that are unhappy about the entry of PDS, and if so, are they capable of sabotaging the operations of PDS? If not, what explains the return, with a vengeance, of dums??

Mr. President, your party laughed at the NDC over dums?!

Are you going to allow the NDC to say now: “Look! They laughed at us over dums?! But what have they been able to do about it?”

That, Mr. President could be an “AJA CELONA” moment!

Please kick the ball [in the form of non-performing officials] hard – and become a Lucas Moura.

Or ignore it, and cry – like the fans of Lionel Messi!

No replays; no penalties!