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08.06.2007 General News

Ghana needs strategic energy framework - Pianim

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An Economist, Mr. Kwame Pianim has stressed the need for a national strategic framework that would ensure adequate and reliable energy to power the nation's new thrust for accelerated development.

"The recurrent cycle of load shedding must be put to an end, it happened in 1998 and again in 2007. It only accelerated the ageing of the already crumbling economic system", he added.

Mr Pianim, who delivered a lecture on the theme: "Ghana's New Thrust for Accelerated and Sustainable Growth :The Role of the Mining Sector as part of the Annual General Meeting (AGM) of the Ghana Chamber of Mines said the manual switching on and off provided avenues for corruption and must be stopped at all cost.

Mr Pianim indicated that a sustainable solution required all hands to be on deck and the stakeholders in the utility services should, as a matter of priority find the resources to rehabilitate the system, especially the distribution and transmission network.

"Their contribution should recognise that the public envelope is limited and there are other equally demanding and urgent social needs competing for scarce public funds", he emphasised.

The Economist pointed out that the generation of power should be left to investors that is Independent Power Producers (IPPs) with resources.

He noted that due to good governance and relative social and economic stability, fund managers over the past weeks had made their way into the country with asset under management of some 100 billion dollars.

"They specialise in emerging markets and Ghana is the destination of the day,” he noted and asked if the nation had the courage and vision to engage them for mutual benefit.

Mr. Pianim held that a consideration was being given to a cascading access to the tariff collection that were to be pooled and put into an escrow account or dedicated account where the financial controllers of the interested parties would meet at agreed time to allocate payment based on the volume of power supplied and the agreed tariff.

"Such system will minimise the demand of IPPs for payment guarantees, but such guarantees should be taken by government as an incentive payment to ensure availability of power on reliable basis", he added.

He intimated that in order to attract investors to make their contribution to this team work, consumers must be ready to pay a realistic tariff that covered the cost of operation and the cost of maintaining the facilities and cater for depreciation.

Mr. Pianim noted that the utility operators would also be required to cut cost to the bone and minimise waste.

He made it clear that there should be a national debate on forward planning for energy, given the fact that climate change was real and that we could no longer depend on hydro power as the supplier of power and that there was the need to move into a new thermal dominant paradigm and other options.

Mr. Pianim observed that the mining sector had been an enclave for activity which could be transformed into a growth pole to push the nation's new thrust for accelerated growth.

"The challenge of our new location on the development ladder is that we need to generate employment for the army of unemployed youth and improve the income earning capacity of the average citizen so that they feel included in the march towards accelerated growth," he added.

He said the mining sector, given innovative partnership arrangement with public sector and an enabling environment, could help, not only in imparting nation building skills to the youth, but actually providing them with gainful employment.

Source: GNA

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