28 June 2007

Ghana: Energy Crisis, Half Truths And the Blame Game


London — It is nearly a year since the whole country has been plunged into a severe energy crisis. The magnitude of the problem is so gigantic in extent and chaotic in detail.

The approach in solving the crisis has been lukewarm. Dark clouds still hangs on the country. Households and industries have been bleeding from the profuse wounds of the energy crisis.

Like the Ghanaian traditional posture, the goal post has been shifted from finding a permanent solution to a blame game; it is like Adam blaming Eve and Eve also blaming the serpent.


In my earlier article titled: THE CASUALTIES OF ENERGY CRISES, I enumerated on the ten casualties of the energy crises namely: manufacturing industries, families and marriages, research institutions and universities, justice delivery, health and nutrition, revenue mobilization and the overall image of the nation. It is actually difficult to quantify the economic cost of the load shedding exercise to the nation. A conservative figure could be around US $5 million a day.


The mechanic in Kokompe or the market women in Kejetia still asks the question: when would the crisis be over? Sadly, enough our politicians and leaders do not burst forth with the correct answer. The President in his State of the Nation Address said: In the interim, government has taken short to medium term measures to put an end to the embarrassing and expensive load shedding to which society and industry have been subjected to over the past six months. These measures include supply from the West Africa Power Pool arrangement whereby, within the next fortnight, Ghana will benefit from supplies from Nigeria and Cote d'Ivoire to the tune of 200 megawatts.

As at now, we have not been bailed by any power supply from Nigeria. A Minister of State also said that the energy crisis would over by the 31st September, 2007. If it was not the Minister I did not know that September has 31 days. The stories of inconsistencies are many. May be we may take it as a slip of tongue.


Instead of focusing on how best to solve the current energy crises the blame game between NPP and the NDC continues day by day and almost every time is spent to defend their statement.

The Minority Leader in Parliament says the cause of the ongoing energy crisis is as a result of the failure of the ruling New Patriotic Party (NPP) to heed advice of the opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) when it took power in 2001.

Mr Ohene Kena, a former Energy Minister in the NDC government also maintains that the government of President John Agyekum Kufuor should be held responsible for the present energy crisis. He said the NDC government gave to the present government, a programme of 1999 pointing out to the Kufuor government that between 2001-2005, the country might face an energy problem and that research results show that the country could be hit by energy problems every 8-9 years. He maintained that government ignored their advice.

The ruling NPP has also responded fiercely to this mud slinging. Finance and Economic Planning Minister, Mr. Kwadwo Baah-Wiredu on the other hand took on the National Democratic Congress (NDC) for making unfulfilled promises about tackling energy crisis during its tenure of office and turning round this time to blame the current government for not doing much about the energy problems in the country.


The assurances have been many but the severity of the crisis keep on increasing by day. The Vice President Aliu Mahama on January this year also sung the assurance tune that full power supply to the country would be restored soon to save Ghanaians and businesses from the difficulties they were going through at present. How soon is soon? Perhaps one may say that we have unconsciously been applying Einstein Theory of Relativity in Physics that 'everything in the universe is relative'


What will this do for us? What is happening in Ghana is like a captain of ship forgetting his compass before boarding a ship, which he is to sail through a stormy sea. The engine technician also forgets to fill the engine with diesel when the shipped docked. Now they got to the deep sea when the restless sea billows roll and the storm threatens everybody's life on board. The captain is seen blaming the technician for not filling the engine and the technician is also blaming the captain for leaving the compass in the wardroom. The question every questioning mind would ask is: what will this blame game bring about? Somebody in a sinking ship does not need to be calmed down. He ought to be rescued.

There is has been enough time for the empty philosophical wrangling and romantic illusions between the NDC and NPP. The saving power of Ghana does not lie in either. The bickering has not put a kilowatt of energy to the national grid. Like Jesus Christ told Martha: why have we become so upset about non-essentials.


What is needed now is sailing the ship called Ghana to a safe and secured place where there would be electricity and no power rationing. Please our politicians, we need electricity. Enough of the 'in the pipeline' is over. We do not want to hear any blame game. We want light.

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