The Minister of Finance, Mr Kwadwo Baah-Wiredu has noted that the energy crisis facing the nation had the potential to reverse and erode the economic gains made in the past six years.
Speaking at the launch of the Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises Project, Mr Baah-Wiredu said the devastating impact of the crisis was been borne by small and medium scale enterprises most of which did not have the resources to acquire alternative means of power generation to carry on their operations.
He said: “With the knowledge that SMEs account for about 90 per cent of all businesses in the country, the impact of the crisis on them cannot be underestimated.”
However, he expressed optimism that the economy could achieve the growth target of 6.5 GDP set in this year's budget despite the impact of the crisis on the manufacturing sector, basing his hopes on good performances from the agricultural, construction, mining and services that could positively impact on national economic growth performance.
A Data Bank research estimates that the economy could lose about 1.4 billion dollars due to the impact of the crisis on the manufacturing, services and informal sectors.
The Central Bank Governor, Dr Paul Acquah also acknowledged at a recent press conference that the energy crisis was a major source of weakness in economic outlook.
Mr. Baah-Wiredu said considering the negative impact that the crisis could have on socio-economic development and growth, government was adopting short and long term measures to solve the problem once and for all.
These measures include the conclusion of arrangements with the World Bank for 150 million dollars to expand and rehabilitate the electricity distribution system, the construction of the Bui Dam, establishment of a new company, Ghana Grid Company (GRIDCO), to help in the transmission of hydro-electric power, a function that is currently performed by the Volta River Authority (VRA) and the installation of automation plants to provide 50 megawatts of power.
The Government is also to import five million dollars worth of energy saving bulbs to be retailed at concessionary prices to the public to phase out high energy consuming bulbs.
Mr Baah-Wiredu also mentioned the West African Gas Pipeline project, which would enable cheap gas to be used for energy generation.
“With all these measures combined, we will soon get out of the crisis,” he said.
The energy crisis started in August last year because of poor inflows of water to the Akosombo Dam. Hydro Generation constitutes about 60 per cent of the nation's energy requirements.