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Opinions of Wednesday, 12 May 2010

Columnist: Baafi, Alex Bossman

Power Supply Situation Critical

By Alex Bossman Baafi

The title of this article was the caption of the Daily Graphic story, Daily Graphic, Wednesday, December 16 2009, page 24 about the Honorable Deputy Minister of Energy’s attempt to explain to our law making body on the floor of parliament, about the current power situation in the country.

We are all witnesses to the fact that power fluctuations has become the order of the day throughout the country and virtually everybody perhaps excluding the people in charge of the situation, has become a victim by suffering one casualty or another in terms of businesses and electrical appliances not to mentions lives that are lost due to unavailability of power.

The Honorable Deputy Minister of Energy himself on the floor of parliament confirmed and described the power supply situation as ‘critical’ and nobody needs to mince words about that. As part of his explanations, he opined that the supply of power was “characterized by inadequate reserve margin, excessive transmission network constraints and poor voltage support, especially during the peak period of 6pm and 10pm each day”. Can you imagine what happens within that four-hour period everyday? Are we serious as a nation wanting to develop and improve upon the living conditions of our people in this 21st century? Do we continue to hope that our country will boast as undisputable conducive tourists and investment destination within the West African Sub-Region?

I am certainly not professing to be an energy expert but from my lay man’s perspective, the government alone cannot solve all the energy needs of this country for want of resources which is why a complementary role of the private sector was an idea in the right direction. The previous administration rightly recognized this fact and went ahead to welcome some Independent Power Producers (IPPs) to generate power to augment and beef up the power supply to the national grid. This led to the advent of IPPs like the Sunon Asogli Power Plant (500MW) and the Tema Osonor Power Plant (126MW) which are located in the Tema Industrial Area within the free zone enclave among others. Companies working on these projects are seriously on the ground working to improve power generation capacity of this country. I can say with adequate certainty that these IPPs need the support of the Ministry of Energy and for that matter the government to accelerate these power projects to go a long way to make our power supply situation very reliable but support has not been forthcoming. Do we really know that issues like water and power supply are national security issues and without them life is meaningless?

Let us toss our minds back to the energy crisis days in 2007, have anybody been able to quantify the losses in terms of productivity to the nation including human sufferings and opportunity costs of not having power in those periods? Though human beings have short memory I do not think anybody could justify why we should toy with decisions concerning the power supply needs of our dear country.

Nobody should be misled into thinking that currently the nation has enough installed generation capacity of power and even meet reserve requirement of the country. This is basically because there is an Akan adage that says “Epo koraa ensuo to gu mu” that literally means “even the sea, God continues to fall rain into it”. We need more power and have to be proactive.

I think it is evident that the significance of reliable, uninterrupted and adequate supply of power to all sectors of the economy including the households cannot be overemphasized.

The Ministry of Energy must rise up to expectation, stop the talking shops and walk the talk because the country cannot afford to go back to its dark days. In my opinion, it will be irresponsible for us to wait until the whole nation is engulfed in total darkness.

Email: abkbossman@yahoo.com