Discussions on the country's current energy crisis turned sour when the Deputy Minority Leader, Mr Edward Doe Adjaho, called on the Minister of Energy, Mr Joseph Kofi Adda, to resign because “he is confused and incompetent”.
“Mr Speaker, if there is anybody in the country who is most confused, then he is the Minister of Energy,” he said, amid shouts of “Hear, Hear! Hear, hear!” by some Minority Members of Parliament (MPs).
Mr Adjaho was contributing to a statement made on the floor of the House by Mr Adda on the current energy situation in the country.
The hot exchanges which ensued after the statement between the Majority and Minority MPs could be described as a rehearsal of the half-hour motion which had been tabled by the Minority for debate on the energy situation today.
The Minority MPs were surprised that the minister was given the chance to make his statement a day before the scheduled debate on the crisis.
Although the Majority demanded the retraction of what they called “unparliamentary” remarks by Mr Adjaho, Mr Adda retaliated by referring to Mr Adjaho as a confused man who had chewed someone's ears during an argument.
It took the Speaker's intervention to ensure that the minister, who seemed to have been infuriated by Mr Adjaho's earlier comments on his competence, to retract his comments.
In his statement, Mr Adda said the government was on top of the current energy situation and expressed confidence that “we shall be out of it within the next three to four months”.
He said the government was tackling the crisis with all the seriousness that it deserved, adding that substantial funds had been committed to supporting the resolution of the energy problem.
“Mr Speaker, within six years in office the New Patriotic Party (NPP) government has invested substantial funds in the energy sector and we are convinced that within the next two to three years Ghana will be in a position to ensure that this situation does not recur,” he told the House.
Enumerating efforts being made to contain the situation, Mr Adda said a lot of work had been done, resulting in the acquisition, installation and operation of relatively smaller generating plants, while lining up much bigger power plants for medium and long-term measures.
Mr Adda said as a policy, therefore, the government was pursuing a generation mix which fully exploited all its potential to ensure self-sufficiency and also to become a net exporter of power.
He stated that in the short-term the government intended to generate a total of 342 megawatts of power by September 2007 to bring the current load-shedding exercise to an end.
The minister said the Ministry of Energy had ordered six million pieces of the more efficient compact fluorescent bulbs for distribution to the public, adding that the measure was expected to save about 200 megawatts during the peak hours (between 6.00 p.m. and 10.00 p.m.) to reduce the overall energy consumed by the public.
In the medium to long term, Mr Adda said the ministry was in the process of procuring additional power plants to be installed in the next 12 to 18 months, adding that that formed part of the plan to have an installed capacity of over 3,000 megawatts by 2010.
He refuted the allegation that the government had not invested in the generation of power since it took office and explained that the completion of the retrofitting works on the Volta River Authority generating plant added 108 megawatts to the power produced at Akosombo, while a lot had been invested in the West African Gas Pipeline project.
“The ability of the government to pay demurrage and invest in the pond construction, as well as other related costs, to facilitate the bringing down of the Osagyefo Barge, which had been rotting in Italy, and the performance enhancement of the Takoradi Thermal 1 Power Station are also other examples of financial outlays by the NPP administration,” he said.
Story by Kweku Tsen
& Emmanuel Adu-Gyamerah