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Written by Enimil Ashon - I have never been angrier! At 6.30 a.m. last Monday, 24 hours after the usual powerlessness, I was certain my area was going to be turned on. The power did come on at 6.35 a.m. alright and I got on to my laptop.

But one hour was the longest the Electricity Company of Ghana (ECG) allowed power into our homes. The lights went out at 7.30 a.m. I left for Busy Internet, one of the few places in Accra where power is guaranteed. When I returned home at 5.15 p.m, there was power. At 6 p.m., the lights were out again. Explanation? Power was restored from noon.

My conclusion was this: As a people, we have lost the ability to manage anything - even a load-shedding programme.

Then came the news item on one of the radio stations on Wednesday, that the “emergency” power barges promised by the Power Minister would not be with us till August/September! What? And that is “emergency”? If “emergencies” could take so long to construct and deliver, and if we really knew the nature and causes of the problems we have faced all these years, why did we not place the orders in 2012… or earlier?

Well, back to Monday night. Ahead of me was another 24 hours of darkness. In my state of uncontrollable rage, another perspective of this whole ‘dumsor’ saga hit me.

Like corruption, we have always blamed government – and we should; after all, the buck stops with it, bearing the ultimate management responsibility, including the appointment of Chief Executive Officers (CEOs) into parastatals. But I think we have focused too long and too much on government. The time has come for all of us to begin to question the competence and/or reliability of the country’s technocrats.

When candidate John Dramani Mahama, as a presidential hopeful, stood in front of the cameras in 2012 and looked the nation in the eye to make his prediction that the energy crisis would be a thing of the past by the end of 2013, he was reading (in his head) notes prepared for him in his capacity as Vice President by technocrats of the Volta River Authority(VRA), Electricity Company of Ghana (ECG) and the Ministry of Energy.

When, during the thanksgiving church service, he, now as President, asked Ghanaians to read his lips as he made the promise to end ‘Dumsor’, one foot was stepping on assurances gleaned from facts and figures placed before him by technocrats.

Since Monday when this new dimension hit me, I close my eyes ever so often in the course of every day. What I see in my mind’s eye is a picture of political CEOs and people with chains of degrees after their names. They go everywhere in suit, travel business class, sleep in five-star hotels, shop at duty-free shops of the world’s most expensive airports with the freedom of people whose financial fortunes run parallel to poverty.

All these the people of Ghana provide, and willingly. But what have we got in return so far? I may be overstretching the matter, but honestly and sincerely, what have these political CEOs added to the national good? They are most effective when they have to write rejoinders crucifying perceived ‘enemies’ who as much as dare to criticise the President.

But perhaps even they can be excused. What about the real technically knowledgeable Doctors of Philosophy (PhDs) in Engineering and Masters of Business Administration (MBAs) in Public Management and Planning?

About these technocrats, more soon.

Back to energy. The question has been asked: What is the New Patriotic Party’s (NPP) solution to the crisis?

If I heard right, the NPP alternative was provided by its Communications Director, Nana Akomea, in an interview on Citi FM. The NPP alternative is simple, he said; the party, if it were in power, would look for the money to import energy, especially for industries, as an interim measure, as power barges arrived as medium-term solutions and as efforts were made to add to the production, for the long term.

I thought that made sense. Why? Because as we are all beginning to appreciate, there is no alternative to energy.

All told, the real question is: How serious are we to try other sources? From the analysis of Ghana’s only Crusading Engineer, Mr Wood, “It is estimated that 5.7 hours of sunlight is enough to meet a year’s energy needs of the world. Ghana’s unique position on the globe is only four degrees above the Equator and the meridian passing through Tema gives us exceptional advantage to tap energy from the sun”.

About wind energy, he writes: “We (Ghana) can generate 10,000 megawatts of power from the Volta basin. .. If the wind turbines are installed triangular at the distance of 300 meters, it should be possible to generate 27,000 megawatts from these towers. At 33 per cent efficiency, 9,000 megawatts can be guaranteed.”

How often do I not hear Ghanaians showering praises on Brazil for driving cars that run on ethanol and yet, according to Engineer Wood, all what we need to do in Ghana to generate ethanol is to create conditions for harvesting the raw material ....

What are we doing with people like Engineer Wood? Is he also a political leper = that can’t (or shouldn’t) be touched?


Written by Enimil Ashon, sourced from graphic.com.gh

 

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