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15.02.2007 Business & Finance

Implementation Is key — Oteng-Gyasi

The President of the Association of Ghana Industries (AGI), Mr Tony Oteng-Gyasi, has called on all bodies, institutions and individuals involved in the implementation of the strategic energy plan to play their roles diligently and effectively to ensure success.

He said the plan, as outlined by the President in his State of the Nation Address, was a welcome news, but its challenge would be a well-executed implementation.

“We will urge everyone concerned to ensure that the plan does not remain on paper,” Mr Oteng-Gyasi said.

The President in that address said the country was expected to adopt short-term and long-term measures to produce about 500 megawatts (MW) of power, far in excess of the country's demand.

In the short-term, measures included the West African Gas Power arrangement under which Ghana would benefit from supplies from Nigeria and Cote d'Ivoire to the tune of 200 megawatts (MW) within the next fortnight; the establishment of a 300-megawatt plant in Tema, and the building of an emergency plant to supply 126 megawatts of power by August this year by the Volta River Authority (VRA).

According to the President, the idle Osagyefo Power Barge would be empowered to produce 120 MW of power.

Besides, a private sector Ghanaian-Chinese joint venture company was in the offing to produce up to 600 MW of power, while a consortium of mining companies had offered to build an 80-MW plant in Tema.

In the long-term, however, he said, three American companies would generate 110MW power by the end of April this year as well as the construction of the Bui Dam to generate 400 MW of electricity.

The AGI President said both the short-term and particularly the long-term measures were in order, because industrialisation depended heavily on energy and the country certainly needed to go beyond ending the load shedding to finding a lasting solution.

Mr Oteng-Gyasi reiterated some suggestions of the association for the resolution of the energy crises.

That included a comprehensive plan for retooling the Electricity Company of Ghana (ECG) and revamping its distribution networks to ensure efficiency.

“It is important that the plant and equipment of ECG be replaced and modernised,” he stated. That, he said, required a programme to be followed over a period of time and a source of funding, since it involved a huge capital outlay.

The AGI president said the public should also be made to pay realistic tariffs not only to enhance electricity generation and distribution, but also to induce investment in the sector.

The VRA and other energy experts have identified about 20 hydro electric dam sites in the country in which the private sector could invest where there a realistic tariff regime.

“Private sector participation in electricity generation and distribution is essential, but to do this, we require realistic tariffs,” he said, adding that although the tariffs had gone up, the levels were not enough to even cover capital expenditure.

Mr Oteng-Gyasi said in all things replacing incandescent bulbs with CFLs should not be lost to the country and that energy conservation should be a top priority in the energy programme.

In that regard, the AGI president said the government should look at priority areas in the energy sector, such as the local manufacture of CFL bulbs and support them with credit and other incentives.

He said the government should also segment consumers of electricity so that the less privileged could be supported, while those who could afford should be made to pay the full cost of it.

Story by Samuel Doe Ablordeppey