PRESIDENT John Mahama has indicated that Ghana is on course to end its current power supply deficit and become a net exporter of power, as more than 1,580 megawatts of installed thermal power is expected to come on stream by the end of next year.
The ‘fast-track’ thermal projects, when completed, will be more than the total combined hydro power from the Akosombo hydro power station (1,020MW), Kpong (160MW) and Bui hydro dams (400MW).
Speaking at the 20th Ghana Journalists Association awards at the State Banquet Hall in Accra on Saturday, President Mahama announced that a total of 1,800MW of power projects would be completed in the next several months.
The projects in question are the 225MW power from the Karpower plants, 250MW power from the build-own- operate- transfer AMERI project in Takoradi, 370MW AKSA project also in Takoradi, the 110MW TEI project and the 300MW GE/ENI power project.
President Mahama said those projects were in addition to supply from projects being worked on over the last few years, such as the 220MWKpone generating plant (KTP), which was expected to be completed in November this year and phase II of the Asogli plant project, which would add 360MW to the national grid by the middle of next year.
The event was on the theme, “Ghana in search of reliable energy to power development: The role of the media,” and brought together some of the crème dela crème in the Ghanaian media landscape, Ministers of State, Parliamentarians and representatives of some foreign missions.
It witnessed the recognition of media professionals who had performed creditably in the year under review in four award categories, with Joy FM’s Seth Kwame Boateng clinching the coveted PV Ansah Journalist of the Year award, with his ‘Locked and Forgotten’ expose on the harrowing conditions in the country’s prisons.
The President said that additional capacity in generation should be accompanied by more security in fuel supply.
To this end, he disclosed that in addition to gas from the West African Gas pipeline, Atuabo and the planned gas in the near future from ENI and Kosmos gas reserves, the VRA was also contracting new Floating Storage Reserve Regasification Units (FSRUs) to allow the country to have LNG as another alternative source of fuel.
In response to calls on him to end the power deficit outright, President Mahama, who stressed that the ‘dumsor’ challenge was still a top priority, said “If power supply could very easily be procured off the shelves, I would have resolved this problem long ago.
I don’t appreciate presiding as President over a country in darkness, and as I said, I accept the challenge and not being the one to play the blame game, I will face the challenge head on.”
As to why the power conundrum could not be resolved overnight, Mr. Mahama pointed out that fixing the problem involved complex financial guarantees, saying that there was a lean time for procurement of generators, turbines and other needed equipment.
“Civil works need to be executed in advance of receiving the new plants; the necessary engineering has to be done to the transmission grid to prepare it to receive the power from the new plants that are planned,” he said.
President Mahama made it clear that the country’s current power crisis was a result of multi-faceted challenges such as climate change, effects on the hydro station inflows and strong growth in demand for power between 10 and 12 per cent per annum.
It also stemmed from downtime due to technical challenges on the various plants and equipment, reliability of power supply such as gas from the pipelines and inefficiency of some of the power utility companies.
The President hinted that thermal power would superimpose hydro as the nation’s main source of power supply, explaining that with the change in world climate and lower inflows into the hydro dams, hydro power would increasingly become supplementary supply.
He pointed out that most of the new thermal power generating plants coming on stream was from private sector investment and not state investment.
“The question we must ask ourselves therefore, is after we have resolved ‘dumsor’ with all these new thermal power and investments, can we sustain this with the current inefficiency in downstream distribution, when nearly 30 per cent of power losses stem a lot from power theft and plenty from non-collection of revenues?
Is ECG, wholly state-owned enterprise properly positioned in terms of efficiency, logistics and attitudes to ensure optimal collection of revenue to pay for this new generation we put into the network?”
President Mahama said it was obvious that the whole power supply value chain should be reformed, adding that there should be a reliable power system that keeps in tandem with the fast-growing appetite in demand for power.
“We cannot continue a situation where officials whose responsibility it is to ensure efficient revenue collection for their agencies, accept monies to help clients to consume power at a reduced cost.”
He said the more that situation occurred, the more it became difficult to ensure efficient power supply and the more power supply became expensive for the few who pay.
Mr. Mahama hinted also that the issue of payment of realistic power tariffs to compensate utility power companies for generation should also be seriously considered. “These are the harsh realities and truths we must face or else we may find ourselves back here [dumsor] again in the near future.”
The media, he said, should educate the public on their responsibilities in ensuring sustained power and electricity supply, especially on electricity conservation to protect their income.
He stressed that the media should interrogate the issues on the reforms government intend carrying out in the power sector under the Millennium Challenge Compact to create more reliable and efficient supply in the value chain.
The President expressed appreciation to Ghanaians for bearing with the power outages noting that, despite the discomfort the citizenry had shown fortitude.
He lauded the media for their role in the nation’s democracy and advocated the need to have better regulation for the broadcast media to improve the national discourse.
He also advised on the need for people to be mindful on what they posted on social media platforms about the country, since it was a world-wide web which could project the country positively or negatively.
Mr. Roland Affail Monney, GJA president, observed that the dumsor had affected the operations of several media houses and appealed for urgent relief for media organisations reeling to survive the power crisis.
He indicated that plans to have the association unionized were on course.
He stressed the need for the citizenry to endeavour to pay their TV license fees promptly to enable the state broadcaster to be more efficient in service delivery.
Earlier, Kweku Andoh Awotwi, Principal of the Africa Power System, stressed the need for the media to immerse themselves with critical issues facing the power supply sector so as to bring to the attention of the authorities, the loopholes in the system.
By Samuel Nuamah