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24.04.2008 Feature Article

Flagbearers on energy

Ghana has just exited from an energy crisis. The crisis became like a long dark corridor with no exit sign. The exit from the crisis was not as a result of any practical or technological solution, but rather the natural phenomenon of rainfall, which filled the dam.

This means that the problem of the energy crisis has not gone from us. Rather, it is has undergone a period of hibernation, and it can resurface any time, as there is a saying that history always repeats itself. Like a boil, which can never be cured, so long as it is covered up, but must be opened, with its ugliness, to the natural medicines of air and light, so must the root causes of the energy crisis, identified to the radiant light of sound vision and political will, and the air of national opinion, before it can be solved.

In the midst of the crisis, government imported diesel-powered engines to supplement the power produced by the Akosombo Dam and Aboadze Thermal Plant. In the medium to the long term, the Bui dam is being constructed to augment the energy needs of the country.

But, if the same conditions, which caused the water level of the dam to drop, are to resurrect again, then it would mean that hydroelectric sources of electricity, cannot be trusted in the face of changing rainfall pattern, and climate changes. That is all your eggs cannot be put into one basket, when there many other empty ones, which can be filled. Again, the nation has closed its eyes to other viable alternative sources of energy supply -renewable and nuclear.

The Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST) through its Energy Centre and the Public Lectures Committee, created a forum, during which all the four major parties in the country, had the glorious opportunity to present their energy policy, under ENERGY: MY VISION.

The Flagbearers of Energy (FoE) brought Dr. Edward Mahama of the People's National Convention (PNC), Dr. Papa Kwesi Nduom of the Convention People's Party (CPP), Honorable John Dramani Mahama, who deputized for the flagbearer of the National Democratic Congress (NDC), and Nana Addo Dankwah Akuffo of the New Patriotic Party (NPP).

This is the first time in Ghana's political history, whereby the issue of energy has been taken so seriously, that voters do not want it to be treated as one of the ordinary things, which is said by politicians. To the organizers of the special seminar, the objective was to provide a platform for each of the presidential flagbearers, to present their ideas for the energy sector development.

As someone, who sat through all the four sections, I am not here to grade the four flagbearers. At least, all of the four aspirants were determined to make energy crises a thing of the past. Perhaps the big question is how and when.

All the aspirants had brilliant policies on energy, if only when implemented would make even Ghana a net exporter of energy. Unfortunately, men never bridge the gap between promise and delivery, such that we know the right thing, but we are reluctant in doing it.

In 1994, Ghana suffered an energy crisis under the NDC regime. Another energy crisis happened in 1998. So, between 1994 and 1998 what did the government do to prevent another crisis from occurring? The Takoradi Aboadze Thermal Plant came as result of the 1998 energy crisis. Even still, demand for electricity has increased, with more communities added to the national grid for the first time, and with people's demand for new gadgets like computers, refrigerators, DVDs, air conditioners etc., the demand for energy would eventual go up, but we have lost track of the fact that the demand has gone beyond supply. This negligence, led to another crisis in 2007/8 (one of the longest running energy crisis).

DEVELOPMENT OF ALTERNATIVE SOURCES

Hydroelectric power is good, but it has its limitations. The water level can go down, as it has happened many times in this country before. This means that the development of alternative sources of energy is more than relevant. Biofuels is good, but only until recently, when the irrational uses of biofuels have caused the rising price of food commodities. A good national policy, with regards to what percentage of land can be allocated to grow biofuels, would always avert the issue of rising food prices.

Accra, Kumasi, Tema, Takoradi, and major cities have been littered with refuse - from domestic waste to industrial waste. We have not been able to manage domestic waste in the country. If we cannot manage domestic waste, then we should not think about getting a nuclear reactor for the purpose of energy generation.

In an era of recycling, and not allowing anything to go waste, the refuse which has littered our cities can be used to generate electricity, which has no environmental consequences. This is what they call landfill site. Maybe the metropolitan assemblies should start investing part of the revenue into the construction of landfill sites.

CONCLUSION

Businesses and domestic users need to be assured of uninterruptible supply of electricity. Most companies cannot come and invest in the country, because their energy requirements cannot be met. The Volta Aluminum Company Limited (VALCO) is currently out of operation, due to limited power supply. We need not to accept power outages to be normal in the country.

The four flagbearers have assured us that an energy crisis would never be experienced in the country. They all have concrete ideas in solving Ghana's energy.

Ghana's brighter future cannot be achieved on a silver platter. It calls for proper investment in the provision of services. Similarly, customers must be willing to pay realistic prices. Of course, it is the duty of the government to absorb those who fall outside the threshold, or the less vulnerable in the society.

Ghanaian Chronicle
Ghanaian Chronicle, © 2008

The author has 1023 publications published on Modern Ghana. Column Page: GhanaianChronicle

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