19 April 2013

Ghana: A Timely Wakeup Call ...


The University of Ghana, on Tuesday, scored another in its long list of uncountable firsts in the country.

That was the day a solar electricity generating system, capable of providing 315 kilowatts electric power was inaugurated at the Noguchi Memorial Institute for Industrial Research (NMIMR).

The project, costing $7.6 million, constitutes the first and second phases of a plan to provide additional energy for the institute to carry out its research mandate into communicable and non-communicable diseases in Africa.

According to NMIMR Director Professor Kwadwo Ansah Koram, the system would help reduce energy cost to the university, and reduce carbon emission, and that the second phase, which was yet to begin, would provide an additional 400 KWh, making a total of 720 KWh energy to the institute.

"This would add on to the electric power generation in the country, and the excess beyond the immediate requirement of the institute will feed into the grid supply to the rest of the university," he said, adding that besides immediate cost savings, the reduction in carbon emissions would lead to less depletion of the ozone layer.

In an address read for him, Energy Minister Emmanuel Armah-Kofi Buah said the NMIMR solar energy system was the first large scale project in the country, since the passage of the Renewable Energy Law, Act 832.

Explaining that the law sought to create an enabling environment for the development of renewable energy resources in Ghana, he described the project as a demonstration of the role of solar to cost-effective energy conservation and management, as well as reliability and security of electricity supply.

The Chronicle is happy that at long last Ghana seems to be waking up from its self-imposed blindness to the great potentiality of its immediate environment, a most irritating blindness that lets us seem like dimwits. A one-touch electricity system stares us in the face, yet we prefer two or three-touch systems.

It is a pity though, that it is the Japanese that have provided the money for our first large scale solar energy generating system, even though we have a renewable energy law. The provision of the funds, in all likelihood, was not a response to Act 832, as the project would have been planned long ago.

In the 50s, when Dr Kwame Nkrumah established the Akosombo hydro power generating system, the solar power generation system may have been in its infancy, so one may not blame him for preferring hydro energy to solar.

But, leaders after him, especially those after 1992, have no excuse to have continued with hydro power generation, and even degenerating to thermal power generation, when sun rays are available to us round the clock, 24/7, 52/4, 365 days a year, even during the rainy season.

Armah-Kofi Buah should not stop at why Act 832 was enacted, or the role of solar energy in cost effective energy conservation or management. We want to know what new large scale solar electricity projects the National Democratic Congress government has planned for the country, and how soon they would come on stream.

The Chronicle and Ghanaians generally, are tired of pedestrian leadership, who ensconce themselves in one pig hole and rot away in there.

We are looking for forward-looking visionary leaders, who think and plan proactively for the welfare of the people in 50-year tranches, and not wait to be overtaken by events before scrambling for cover.

Enough is enough!

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