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02.04.2019 Feature Article

Raising Concerns About, and at the same time Advising the Electricity Company of Ghana Ltd

Raising Concerns About, and at the same time Advising the Electricity Company of Ghana Ltd
APR 2, 2019 FEATURE ARTICLE

Much as I am aware of the Electricity Company of Ghana Ltd (ECG) been taken over by Power Distribution Service Ghana Ltd (PDS) since 1 March 2019, I still have the obligation to channel my concerns and suggestions through the ECG to the new electricity service provider, PDS.

Somewhere in 1996, I quite remember writing to then President Jerry John Rawlings about some problems facing the nation in regard to the safe installation and inspection of electrical works in homes. As a French and British trained electrician and having worked for one of the biggest electrical companies in France, Verge & Delporte, I decided to pass on some of the safe methods of electrical installations and how to curtail or avoid illegal electricity connections with intent to traffic electric current without paying for it or not paying the appropriate consumption rate.

I conveyed to the attention of the president asking, what pride could one derive from being a Ghanaian if they failed to introduce to their country the good things they learn from abroad to benefit the nation and their Ghanaian compatriots? Again, I emphasised that one does not need to be in a high position of responsibility to be able to help their nation but must simply pass on their good ideas, knowledge and good things learnt to those back home who are in the position to implement them.

To cut a long story short, despite my intermittent expressions of angry emotions, President J. J. Rawlings did acknowledge my letter to him with much appreciation and classified it with a reference number assigned. Let me keep the details to myself.

In the said letter, I suggested to the President to have the electricity metres installed outside homes but not inside houses. This was to prevent tampering by some house owners or occupants. Some electricians were known to assist, or propose to, some house owners, to do their home electrical installations such that some circuits would be connected directly to the intake or service cable without passing through the metre. This means they would be enjoying electricity without paying for it.

Additionally, I suggested to the President to compel the Electricity Company of Ghana Ltd to have Electrical certifiers or inspectors. These electricians are trained and qualified to inspect electrical installations to ensure that they conform to specified or approved national standard before passing them and issuing them with certificate for the electricity provider to supply the home or the building with electricity.

These inspectors are trained to conduct visual and other robust electronic checks to ensure that the installation is safe; correct sizes of cables or wires for specific circuits have been used with the correct number of lights or sockets on a circuit, etc. They will be able to detect any illegal electrical connections as it used to be the order in Ghana and are still ongoing in some homes in Ghana.

In order not to spend your precious time or mine needlessly, let me inform the public of what I saw during my recent holiday to Ghana. In Accra, I saw some electrical metres, it could be anything from four to eight, mounted on a teak electrical pole. I saw many of them and wondered if they had anything to do with my suggestion passed to former President J. J. Rawlings somewhere in 1996. The metres were actually reading the electric current consumption by the homes they serve. It was exactly what I suggested but they had not been safely installed as I would expect.

The electric metres have been mounted such that they are in all likelihood subjected to the heavy downpour of tropical rain, the dusty monsoon wind, etc. I had suggested that to avoid the trafficking of electric power without paying for the amount of energy one consumes, the electric metres must be housed in small purpose-built padlocked or keyed metal or block/brick enclosures in front of the houses. Any number of up to ten or more electric metres, depending on the houses around the area to be served, can be housed in the enclosure from where the service cable from the Electricity provider could be drawn from to serve the various homes. With this, whatever attempts made by the house owners and their dubious agents (electricians) to steal electricity without paying for it will not work. This is because the actual consumption of electricity by the household will never be able to bypass the metre housed in the enclosure.

There should be a small repeater electric metre in the house for the occupants of the house to know how much electric energy they have consumed in any given time. Their reading must tally with the main metre housed outside the house in a wall or the enclosure as said.

While in Ghana, someone told me that the Ghana Energy Commission has made it into law or decided that all electrical installations must be made by their certificated or designated electricians from each particular region or else, a house owner using a non-certificated electrician or an electrician from another region will not have their electrical installation passed. Subsequently, they will not be able to get a certificate of inspection to allow ECG or PDS to provide them electric metres and electricity.

Be that as it may, I shall disagree with the Ghana Energy Commission on every inch in the way. Any trained electrician can carry out electrical installation in a home regardless of which region the person comes from. It is up to those appointed and certified as inspectors by the Ghana Energy Commission to ensure that the installation being inspected is safe and does conform to the Ghana Standards. Period!

“The Electrical Third Party Certification Scheme was introduced by the UK Government in 2013 for electrical work under the Building Regulations. It allows registered members to check domestic electrical work undertaken by others via robust inspection and reporting procedures, and certify its compliance with the Building Regulations in England”. Is this not more than enough to prove my point and to prove me right?

Anyway, we have books in the UK and France as well as the USA and all the advanced countries on building regulations and standards. We have them on electricity, etc. Do we have any such books specifying Ghana Standards and Regulations on various aspects of construction projects e.g. electricity? Without anything of the sort in place that anyone can walk into a bookshop or an electrical shop to purchase, how can one ensure their work conforms to an expected Ghana Standard? I am just asking?

Finally, may I strongly suggest to the Ghana electricity provider as follows:

You must always disconnect a non-paying customer’s supply line or power from the pole outside the house or the metre situated outside the house. You should not simply pull out the live intake/service cable from the metre inside the house which you normally leave behind sellotaped. Some people are known to push back in the cable which you know to have disconnected for non-payment of electricity bills and accumulation of arrears, to continue to enjoy electricity.

I had to google the functions of ECG and they are as follow:

FUNCTIONS:

  1. To transmit, supply and distribute electricity.
  2. To purchase electrical energy in bulk (from VRA) or any other supplier for distribution.
  3. To construct, reconstruct, install, assemble, repair, maintain, operate or remove sub-transmission stations, electrical appliances, fittings and installations.
  4. To execute and supervise national electrification programmes on behalf of Government.
  5. To carry out any other activity incidental or conducive to the attainment of the objectives above.

Rockson Adofo

Rockson Adofo
Rockson Adofo, © 2019

This author has authored 1795 publications on Modern Ghana. Author column: RocksonAdofo

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