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National Electrification Programme Or Problems?

Fri, 14 May 2010 Source: Quaye, Stephen A.

[PART 2]

From: Stephen A. Quaye, Toronto-Canada.

Has anybody sat down to ask very critical questions as to why the country Ghana is now suffering serious from energy crisis instead of enjoying what should have by now be described as National Electrification Programme [NEP]?

It used to be a campaign message always on the lips of the former president Mr. Jerry John Rawlings where on each and every campaign platform, you hear him shouting,”ladies and gentlemen under the NEP programme which the government is determined to distribute electricity to all parts of the country, when you vote for the NDC my government will extend electricity to your town”.

At certain points even electricity poles are transported to the town where he was billed to mount the campaign platform a day or a week before his arrival to show how serious the party was in fulfilling that promise only for the poles to lye and got rotten after the election.

Anyone who want to check this history can go on investigation tor staring from Suhum going to Asamankese and check from those towns and villages going to Asamankese where last time I checked in 2007, residents in a town called Anum were decisive they were not going to cast their votes because they have been deceived for a very long.

Apart from the fact that a certain political party used it as a campaign strategy to canvas votes to win a general election, let us look at the exercise itself and see whether it was worth embarking and at what direction or pace should it have taken to avoid the national programme turning out to become a national problem or crisis at the moment.

In a first place, the Akosombo Hydro Electric Dam, which was constructed by the Kaisers in the 1960’s through the vision of Osaagyefo Dr.Kwame Nkrumah, was first and foremost to generate hydro electric power to feed the industries in the country especially Volta Aluminum Company [VALCO] in Tema and other industries preferred as well as certain state institutions.

However after construction and generation of power there excess of hydro electric power apart from what was needed to feed the VALCO company and other companies together with institutions and homes so there was no problem extending power to certain areas which did not have electricity even to the point of exporting it to other neighboring countries with the Ghana suffering from no energy crisis.

Under the National Democratic Congress [NDC] government with former president Jerry John Rawlings as the head of state, the government embarked on what it described as National Electrification Programme [NEP] where electricity was extended to numerous towns and villages because the understanding was they must also enjoy electricity.

The exercise itself had its difficulties because it was not properly explained to the recipients before hooking them to the power where later on the whole thing became a mess. For instance, some residents at a village were told the power was free which saw them jumping and celebrating with their chiefs declaring their support and that of the whole town for the NDC government later to be visited with huge electricity bills for them to clear.

This made many residents in some towns and villages used sticks to disconnect power from poles to their homes by pulling the cables out saying “we thought it was free we have been deceived we do not need any electricity”.

Here do you blame the government which was bringing power or the people who were recipients to the power for the wastage? You are right if the blame was to be put on the residents for failing to subject officials of government for the sources of the power and terms of agreement before accepting the consummation of power.

But even that the government failed to realize that the capacity of the Dam in generating electricity was far getting less therefore the exercise was going to hit a road block and create crisis in the country.

Apart from the fact that Burkina Faso has constructed an irrigation dam on the Volta therefore reducing the free flow of water into the Akosombo Dam, the government was to also know and understand that at certain level the capacity of the Dam was going to be far less thereby creating energy crisis in the country therefore has to be circumspect in distributing electricity in the country.

But because it was bent in convincing the electorate to win their votes emerge the victorious in those two elections, it embarked on the exercise without proper direction and today the country is suffering from energy crisis.

With this typical example, one will say is time various governments embark on certain exercises with much caution in order not to create problems for the country after because proper procedures were not followed.

It is good to extend electricity to every nuke and crane of Ghana but the big question we all need to answer is should we extend electricity to every village just like that? Let us provide that answer to the government to guide them in their future programmes.

Columnist: Quaye, Stephen A.