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28.02.2007 General News

Refocus Sight On Power And Water

Energy and water are two utilities on which we have to take a bold decision, as a country, on how we can turn threats into opportunities. We need those two things in our daily lives.

When the light goes off, that is when you see how ugly the night is. Traffic lights too do not work. When water does not flow through the taps, people have to spend hours on end in search of water.

We know that the government is making some efforts to ease the energy supply problems through discussions with neighbouring Cote d'Ivoire, Benin and Nigeria to ensure that power supply improves. Besides, it is said that some generators are being imported to reduce the anxiety. That is well and good.

Surely, by the end of the year the West African Gas Pipeline project which is to tap the gas which is flaring in Nigeria would have become operational.

Obviously, the load-shedding exercise has affected the operations of many small and medium enterprises because they have to spend more money on fuel for standby generators, for example.

However, we think that the time has come for us to take bold actions on how to harness the various renewable energy sources, such as wind and solar.

It is true that the initial capital outlay for embarking on some of the ventures such as solar or wind power may be huge but, in the long-term, it will be beneficial to us as a people.

This would mean our architects and planners would have to incorporate the installation of solar panels in their designs or there should be a systematic programme to encourage people in the coastal areas who may want to use wind power.

Another attractive area is water harvesting. It is important that we make it a national policy to harvest water, instead of allowing rain water to flow into the sea.

The early Basel and German missionaries introduced water harvesting by making underground receptacles in their homes and many people in the communities where they lived made an attempt to copy that method of water harvesting.

Unfortunately, many do not see the method as fashionable. Instead, they would like to use treated water to wash their cars and water their flower gardens.

We again expect that our planners should think about the threat to water supply and devise methods of easing the problem.

It would be recalled that when the country experienced a very dry period in 1983, it was attributed to a phenomenon called El Nino which devastated agricultural performance in many tropical countries.

We must examine ways and means of finding some answers to our problems, especially those concerning water and power.