It is Electricity, stupid

Posted by By at 3 December, at 09 : 09 AM Print

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It is Electricity, stupid

 

True leaders make plans, not promises.” – E.J. Mayers

 

We don’t want to kid ourselves that the president of the Republic of Ghana read what we write, or that he takes decision based on what in read in this column.

Nevertheless, it gratifies greatly when few days after we touched on a subject, Mr. President takes actions that suggests that he takes serious what we complain about.

In our very last column, When rulers are totally disconnected from the people they ruled, we had this to say: “So, what exactly is the point in Mr. President junketing around with his retinue? Why inflict additional per diems on an already depleted national purse?

More to the point: which investor will come and invest in a country where the provision of electricity is still a major production?”

So, it was good news indeed when the office of the president announced that the MD of the Electricity Company of Ghana has been sacked.

We repeat what we have said often that we do not take delight in other people’s misfortunes. But we also do not think that people should occupy position of authority where they don’t do what they are supposed and paid to do. It should be most embarrassing to us that close to sixty years of independence, we still struggle with basics like electricity.

The ECG is charged with supplying electricity to Ghanaian consumers. Until it was broken up, the ECG function as one body – it was responsible for the generation and the distribution of electricity. For reasons best known to the powers-that-be, the ECG was broken up into three separate companies (with Gridco owning the transmission lines; VRA generating and ECG distributing).

No one told us the logic that informed that decision. Perhaps, our rulers believe that it is best to, as usual, just follow trend in Western capitalist countries.

Today, ECG charge people money for services not rendered and when consumers want to complain, ECG officials send them to go and complain to Volta River Authority (the generating arm). VRA does not send or collect bills from customers, so it makes sense when they refuse to listen to them.

This was how MyJoyOnline reported it the sacking of the ECG boss’ sacking: “President John Dramani Mahama has sacked former Managing Director, of the Electricity of Ghana Rev. Ing. William Hutton-Mensah, from office.

A statement signed by the Chief of Staff, Prosper Bani said Robert Dwamena will be acting in that capacity.

The decision comes in a wake of an intense load shedding exercise across the country which has left households, companies go off several days without electricity.

Some angry residents in Accra and Kumasi have only recently vented their anger at the ECG. They blocked roads and threatened to beat up ECG officials.” – http://www.myjoyonline.com/news/2014/November-21st/president-appoints-new-managing-director-for-ecg.php

Few short days later, the president also created a new Ministry of Energy. This is how it was reported: “President John Dramani Mahama has nominated Dr. Kwabena Donkor, MP for Pru East and Chairman of the Parliamentary Committee on Energy, as Minister for a newly created Ministry
of Power.

The establishment of the Ministry forms part of a restructuring of the power sector to ensure more stability and security of power.

A statement from the Office of the President and signed by the Chief of Staff, Prosper Bani, said the President expects the new Ministry to bring about a sharper focus on the generation, supply and efficiency of power to match the growth the economy is experiencing.

When approved by parliament, the new Minister will be expected to mobilise all human and material resources available to resolve the current challenges facing the power sector.” – http://www.gbcghana.com/1.1905314

We laud Mr. President’s bold moves and wish him well as he struggle to tackle a problem that must be solved before any of his lofty programmes can be achieved.

The simple truth is that no modern economy can grow which lacks adequate provision of electricity supply.

In several write-ups, we have denounced the lack of vision of those that rule us. We also cited this as the single factor that is driving the country to the ground.

It is one thing for citizens to line up and vote for parliamentarians and for president, but it is entirely another thing for them to vote for a president that is bold and has vision of where he wants to take the country.

It is time we get real and stop deluding ourselves. We have given the presidency of the United States as example of where people do not just occupy to try their luck.

No, those that aspire to rule the United States must be serious and the must be seen to be serious.

Of course, lots of stuffs went behind the scene to choose American leaders, but what is not in doubt is that whoever emerges has several institutions and agencies to help him.

Anyone aspiring to the presidency must be seen to have taken some time to study the problems of the country. He must have assembled technocrats to help him prepare position papers on almost every subject under the sun and beyond. You never know when an intrepid reporter would want to know what your position is on the gravitational force of Mars expending to the polarity of the sun’s corona.

Like a Boy Scout: You simply must be prepared.

What we have in our blessed republic are people who chose to run for office with very little idea about what they want to do when they get there. They remain clueless about where they want to take country. They have no policy on education, health, agriculture or industry.

All they have are their party manifestoes, which invariably are cut and paste jobs.

The result is clear. The lack of adequate preparation is exactly what is responsible for the sorry state of affairs in the country. It is what made it possible for us to appear to take one step forward and twenty steps backward. It is what made it appear that we are wayward, have no sense of direction and apparently no compass to guide us.

It is also what made it possible for us to continue to battle with the provision of basic services for our people.

If a president had come into power with good preparation, and a clear vision of what he wants to do when he got into power, we would not be bereft of ideas and we certainly will not be sleeping in darkness, fifty-seven years after we began to govern ourselves.

For example, how many years does it take to build a power generating plant?

Sorry if we appear to dwell too much on the lack of electricity in the land. But bear with us and try to understand that every modern society today run on electrical power.

The provision of adequate supply of electricity is crucial to every aspect of modern life?

So, why is the simple fact no modern economy can run without electricity eluding those that rule us?

If they are aware of its essentiality, why have they not solve the problem?

Why do we have presidents go around the world asking investors to come and invest in our economy when he knows fully well that he cannot supply them with the electricity to run their business?

These are the serious question we need to pose to those rule us.

Adequate supply of electricity and security top the list of consideration when people consider where to establish factories. So, why after all these years, no leader since Kwame Nkrumah have provided Ghanaians with adequate electricity? People who like to beat around the bush will argue that the population in Nkrumah’s time was far less. I say that it is that type of argument that made us stuck in the mud.

In addition to the Akosombo Dam, Nkrumah set up the Atomic Energy Agency and installed a reactor that would have made the country energy self-sufficient for several decades. It would have, in addition, help our agriculture and health sectors.

That was good planning.

Thinking ahead should be one of the attributes of good leadership. It is sad that we have leaders who continue to look ordinary and appear to be overwhelmed by the responsibility of the office they campaigned to hold.

Sadly, we all bear the brunt and the accompanying humiliation for our leaders’ lack of foresight.

A good example of a leader with a vision for his country is provided by Brother Barack Obama. We have had occasionally to rail against Mr. Obama’s foreign policies where he appears to be continuing the same murderous imperial agenda his country has pursued over the centuries.

But in domestic policy, Mr. Obama performance has been nothing but outstanding. And when the story is written, his energy policy will be described in the superlatives.

Mr. Obama came to power and vowed to wean his country away from dependence on foreign oil. Six years into his presidency, the US has become totally energy self-sufficient, and for the first time in many decades, the US has become a net exporter of oil!

We might contest the ruinous technology used in extracting shale oil, the point here is that a leader came to power with a clear vision, and how to achieve that vision and, within a short time, achieved the vision.

Can we say the same about our leaders?

PS: We surely live in a very funny country. Rather than address core issue, most of us believe in flying useless tangent and end up muddling already muddled waters.

A well-connected lady smuggled 12.5 kilogram of Cocaine out of our dear republic. To put it in perspective, most airlines allow passengers twenty-three kilo of checked-in baggage and 10kg of hand-luggage.

So, what Nayele Ametefeh carried out of the country was more than what is allowed as hand-luggage!

Rather for us to concentrate and ask pertinent questions of how she managed to beat both men and machines at our august airport, Kotoka Airport, our people slung mud over whether she is NDC or NPP. Ah!

What about the serious security implications? What about the country’s image? What about the possible sanctions other serious countries might decide to slap on Ghana over this very security lapse?
What if Nayele Ametefeh, also known as Ruby Mahama, had been carrying a bomb instead of Cocaine?

PSS: Thank you, Mr. President, for promising not to make more promises. The quote by Mayer above says: “Leaders should make plans, not promises.”

 

 

About the Author

Femi Akomolafe is a passionate Pan-Africanist. A columnist for the Accra-based Daily Dispatch newspaper and Correspondent for the New African magazine. Femi lives in both Europe and Africa, and writes regularly on Africa-related issues for various newspapers and magazines.

Femi was the producer of the FOCUS ON AFRICANS TV Interview programme for the MultiTV Station.

He is also the CEO of Alaye Dot Biz Limited Dot Biz, a Kasoa-based Multimedia organisation that specialises in Audio and Video Production. He loves to shoot and edit video documentaries.

His highly-acclaimed books (“Africa: Destroyed by the gods,” “Africa: It shall be well,” “18 African Fables & Moonlight Stories” and “Ghana: Basic Facts + More”) are now available for sales at the following bookshops/offices:

  1. Freedom Bookshop, near Apollo Theatre, Accra.
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Where to buy them online:

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18 African Fables & Moonlight Stories https://goo.gl/Skohtn

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Africa: It shall be well: https://goo.gl/KIMcIm

 

Africa: it shall be well

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on Amazon books: http://goo.gl/QeFxbl

on Lulu Books: https://goo.gl/SQeoKD

 

Africa: Destroyed by the gods

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on Amazon books: http://goo.gl/1z97ND

on Lulu Books: http://goo.gl/KIMcIm

 

My Lulu Books page: http://www.lulu.com/spotlight/FemiAkomolafe

 

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A FREE Chapter of ‘Africa: It shall be well’ could be downloaded here: http://alaye.biz/africa-it-shall-be-well-a-free-chapter/

  1. Africa: Destroyed by the gods (How religiosity destroyed Africa) http://alaye.biz/africa-destroyed-by-the-gods-introduction/

A FREE Chapter of ‘Africa: Destroyed by the gods’ could be downloaded here: http://alaye.biz/africa-destroyed-by-the-gods-free-chapter/

Read a review here

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Comradely,

Femi Akomolafe

 

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