Issues about energy are as crucial as the economy of a country. Africa is a continent that should not experience any energy problem under normal circumstances given the climatic advantage of its position on the globe. This has however, never been the case; a clear example is the ridiculous energy situation in Nigeria, the hub of crude oil and gas yet experiences one of the worst energy crisis in the world.
Ghana as an African country has not been spared at all; it has had its own share of the energy macabre in most African countries. Though, Ghana has all the water bodies one can think of, we always have energy problems relating to low water levels and in some cases, malfunctioning machines.
Interestingly, it seems Ghana is also experiencing the Nigerian energy curse. Though we now produce fuel in commercial quantities, we face the worst form of energy crises in the country. Aboadze Plant has complained of lack of diesel for operation several times. Even though, with our status as an oil producing country, gas and diesel should be our by-products, that has not been the case. The Ghana gas company has still not started full operation four years down the line.
Nobody not even the officials of ECG really understand the nitty-gritty of our electrical energy canker which has become an albatross on our necks. Hardly do we have a week without light out. While the ordinary Ghanaian is admonished to conserve electricity, many officials of VRA and ECG and government officials do not have energy conservation in their kingdoms.
Ghana has got to a stage where using generator as a source of electric power has become very common. This situation is not only hampering businesses but also glooming employment. Many are the suggestions that have come up for alternative sources of energy, yet, we have remained so conservative as a nation.
Though Ghana is located in the tropic where getting solar power is not a problem at all except government commitment and funds, Governments, present and past have always been rhetoric about it. They lack the commitment and the will-power to do it even though we spend so much on very unnecessary things. Payment for judgement debts alone could have offered us solar power.
Although, Ghana has grown from a low income status to a middle income country, its power grid has not seen any remarkable improvement, a situation hampering the growth of industries in the country. Many foreign investors want concrete assurances of frequent power supply before finalising plans to do business in the country.
It is obvious that as the country’s population soar overtime industrialisation will increase with its accompanying power demand; changing electricity consumption habits – a clear indication that the need for power has gone beyond the current supply capacity and that Ghana is under obligation to find alternative sources of power.
This is a situation that is debilitating against us on a threshold of things internally and internationally. The 2013 World Bank report titled “Energising Economic Growth in Ghana: Making the power and petroleum sectors rise to the challenge” found that that Ghana’s energy sector was performing below expectation. The report therefore admonished the government of Ghana to fix the teeming problems in the sector so as to eschew any unforeseen economic meltdown.
The report further stated that “at a time when the Ghanaian economy is achieving sustained growth in excess of six per cent annually, with ambitions to raise this further, there is a risk that misguided and inappropriate policies would lead to the power sector becoming a drain on the economy.” This is an obvious indication that the instability of our power grid could have telling effects on not only businesses but more importantly, the general economy of the country.
The VRA and ECG must answer questions bordering on accountability, innovation, management, maintenance of assets, facilities and infrastructure, planning and commercialization to ensure constant and uninterrupted electrical power supply to the people of Ghana.
Since 2000, every increment has been to help ECG or VRA improve its services yet only God can tell what services they have really improved in a decade. Even when we have abundance of rain the problem quickly shifts to lack of fuel or breakdown of one equipment or the other.
Just when we heard and thought the popular ‘domsor domsor’ was over, we still experience a ‘cold war’ intermittent low scheduling that no one is saying anything about.
I believe it is about time government disassociated itself from the mismanagement and lack of innovation at the ECG and VRA and keep the officials on their toes. The officials should also compel government to live up to its obligations to VRA and ECG; agencies, ministries, districts, metropolis and municipalities should honour their debts to the power companies promptly.
I should believe that government’s sensitivity to the precarious energy situation confronting the nation precipitated the drafting of the 2010 National Energy Policy by the Ministry of Energy. The aim of this policy was to increase installed power generation capacity, from about 2,000 to 5,000 megawatts (MW) by 2015, and increase electricity access from the current level of 66% to universal access by 2020 and of course with the aim of even transporting some to neighbouring countries.
Intriguingly, the policy proposes inter alia that Ghana ought to move away from the traditional hydro generation of power into renewable energy. This if well heeded to would not only provide relief to the excruciation stress on nation’s power grid, but would also place the country in the current global trend of eco-friendly power generation.
It is no secret that Ghana is well endowed with renewable energy resources, particularly solar and biomass energy resources. Yet, political commitment to ensuring green and eco power generation has become as difficult as the distance between heaven and earth to us as a nation. What the UK-based renewable energy firm, Blue Energy, is seeking to do in Ghana should have been done in Ghana perhaps soon after the Busia or Limann regime.
Yes, the Blue Energy has plans of adding about 155 MW to our power grid but could that provide a lasting panacea to the power albatross that has bedevilled the country for over a decade? It is clearly important that several alternatives should be exploited to forestall this energy ‘wahala’ (predicament) once and for all.
The obvious answer is a big NO. Then, why not the Denmark Experience ____ a nationwide green/clean energy power generation and the biomass?
By: Isaac NUNOO
A Researcher and Communicator
(Communications __ GCCI)