Business News of 2013-12-22

Comment: We’re grateful to China for Bui

Energy, in its right mix, serves as a catalyst for growth in any economy.

Without energy, businesses cannot run and domestic activities will come to a standstill.

Ghana was lucky to be among a few African countries to have developed hydroelectric power in the 1960s.

By the 1970s, Ghana’s power requirement was less than the capacity of the dam, necessitating supplies to Cote d’Ivoire, Togo and Benin. Unfortunately, along the line, the weather pattern did not help very much, resulting in the lowering of the water level in the dam. That also compelled power utility providers such as the Electricity Company of Ghana (ECG), the Volta River Authority (VRA) and Ghana Grid Company (GRIDCo) to ration power to consumers.

The country has, over the years, experienced load-shedding because of shortfalls in power supply, the latest being the period from the middle of last year to as late as this year when the power situation appeared to have stabilised.

It is regrettable that investment in the power sector has not matched demand because of the poor state of our economy and the unattractive power regime that demotivates independent power producers from investing in the power sector.

But this trend ought to change if Ghana is to reap the benefits of a stable and peaceful environment.

Therefore, the steps being taken by the government in recent times to invest more in the power sector must be supported by all stakeholders. We must all be happy that the project initiated by the Kufuor administration in 2008 has been pursued by the Mahama administration to its logical conclusion, thereby adding 400 megawatts to our power sector.

We are indebted to the Chinese government for extending over $600 million (with Ghana government counterpart funding) support to end the perennial load- shedding that has dominated the country’s landscape for more than two decades.

Even with the inauguration of the Bui Dam yesterday, debate over the payment of cost-effective tariffs by majority of our people must go on, as the present tariff regime is prohibitive.

But that is not the end for consumers, as the Public Utilities Regulatory Commission has already hinted of an upward adjustment in tariffs early next year.

The Daily Graphic thinks that tariff adjustments in a competitive economy like ours, where sometimes we have to go to the open market to look for loans to expand our power sector, cannot be avoided.

But there is a silver lining in the horizon with the construction of the gas plant at Atuabo in the Western Region. We are told that when our gas comes on stream, we may not have a challenge with raw materials for the production of affordable electricity.

At the inauguration of the Bui Dam, President John Dramani Mahama said the dam had increased the country's generating capacity and "put us on track to realising the targeted 5,000 MW by 2016".

The Daily Graphic calls on Ghanaians to be prepared to support the power sector and at the same time we urge the utility service providers to be more efficient in power generation.