Ghanaian Deputy Minister for Energy, Dr. Kwabena Donkor yesterday said if Nigeria wants to tackle the problem of erratic power supply it must show seriousness by separating electricity from partisan politics and make it a national priority.
Speaking in Lagos at the 5th annual lecture of Aelex law firm, with the theme: ‘How Ghana Kept The Lights On,’ the minister identified effective management of the power system and a strong political will to achieve the overall agenda of government as a major ingredient for improving power generation.
“Let me state that keeping the lights on would require an effective management of the power system and a strong political will to ensure adequate, reliable and cost-effective power supply to achieve the overall developmental agenda of the government.
“It would also require a determination of the body politic, devoid of partisanship, to see electrification as a development imperative and access as an economic right,” he said.
Donkor explained that the major reason why Ghana had been able to keep the lights on was the fact that since 1990, every government in Ghana had been committed to the full implementation of power policy, even the military administration.
Disclosing that Ghana’s current access to electricity is about 65 per cent of the population, Donkor said this makes the country one of the countries in sub-Saharan Africa with high rate of accessibility to electricity supply.
The Minister, however, admitted that Ghana had also faced power crisis, in 2006 and 2007, but that immediate measures were taken to mitigate the impact of the crisis on the economy and the people of the country.
He noted that at the inception of his country’s National Electrification Scheme (NES), only 478 communities were connected to the national grid and accessibility was only about 20 per cent. He said well over 4000 towns are connected to the national grid now.
“Supply of adequate, reliable and economically priced power supply is vital for the socio-economic development of every nation. It has been observed that the GDP growth rate of a nation has a direct relationship with the growth in the per capita electricity consumption.
“The development of the various sectors of the economy, such as industry, agriculture, health, education, tourism, etc. depends heavily on reliable, adequate and economically priced power.
“The vision of the energy sector of Ghana is to provide adequate and reliable energy supplies to all sectors of the Ghanaian economy to support socio-economic development, poverty reduction and also for export,” he said.
He advised that rural electrification must be taken seriously, adding that attempts by politicians to extend electricity to the rural areas must not be viewed with political coloration.
He also called for effective revenue generation from electricity and efficient energy conservation programme.
Donkor further revealed that it was important for government to carry out energy efficiency programmes in the energy supply system in order to defer the construction of power plants in the interim and get more mileage out of existing generating assets.
“Even, in the Ministry of Energy, we have had cause to have power outages when our account department is yet to pay for the prepaid meters,” he said.
His words: “As part of the efforts at mitigating the impact of the recent power crisis in Ghana, the Ministry of Energy, in August 2007, launched the National Compact Fluorescent Exchange Programme, which was intended to reduce the national electricity demand by 200-220 MW.
He added that: “A total of about 6 million compact Fluorescent Lights were imported into the country by Government and distributed to government institutions and households free of charge.
Speaking to THISDAY on the reason for the choice of the topic for the lecture, the Managing Partner of the Aelex law firm, Mrs Funke Adekoya (SAN), said, “This year we are talking about power to find out what Ghana did and how they did it and if there is any thing we can learn from them or can we pick anything from them.
“Every year we try to choose a topic that is of interest to the general public and also of interest to the legal profession. Everybody will agree with me that this year, everybody has been talking of the power situation.”