John Peter Amewu
Energy Minister John Peter Amewu has cautioned against bringing back former President John Mahama and his National Democratic Congress (NDC) to power, saying their return will resurrect the power crisis, aka ‘dumsor’, which Ghanaians endured for about four years during their tenure.
He said emphatically that the return of Mr. Mahama would bring back dumsor due to their incompetent handling of the energy sector, and said the electorates had to keep President Akufo-Addo and the New Patriotic Party (NPP) in power “to keep the lights on at an affordable rate.”
Mr. Amewu, taking his turn at the eighth edition of the Information Ministry’s Nation Building Updates (NBU) in Accra yesterday, said a vote for President Akufo-Addo and the NPP was a vote for reliable, efficient, affordable and uninterrupted power supply; adding, “Ladies and gentlemen, give us four more years for uninterrupted supply of power.”
Speaking under the theme: “Keeping the lights on, Powering our growth”, the Energy Minister, who is also contesting the Hohoe Constituency parliamentary seat in the Volta Region, said the NPP had shown competence in the energy sector by continuing to keep the lights on.
He recounted how the mismanagement of the power sector by Mr. Mahama and his NDC cronies affected economic growth and destroyed many small businesses in particular, and rendered many people jobless, and said voting the NPP out of power would lead to the return of erratic power supply once again.
He said Mr. Mahama lacked sound leadership direction to assemble the various state agencies in the power mix such as National Petroleum Authority (NPA), Volta River Authority (VRA), Electricity Company of Ghana (ECG), Ghana Grid Company Limited (GRIDCo), Ghana National Petroleum Corporation (GNPC) and Ghana National Gas Company Limited (Ghana Gas) to work in a collaborative manner.
According to him, there was no thorough collaboration in the power sector under Mr. Mahama, and people were just signing Power Purchase Agreements.
He said electricity tariff increased by 268 per cent between 2010 and 2016, and energy demand at peak during the dumsor era was about 2,800 megawatts.
He said dumsor was not because there were no power generators since the power generators were not less in demand, adding “at the time that dumsor was at its peak, the generators available could produce at 2,900 megawatts.”
Mr. Amewu stated that the problem was not because there was excess demand for supply, but rather the problem was that supply was in excess but they could not provide the energy needed.
The minister said there were huge energy sector debts under the Mahama government, saying for instance that in 2016, the total amount owed the ECG was over GH¢2 billion, and added that BOST had a backlog of unaudited accounts from 2014 to 2015 and the 2016 audited accounts reflected a total loss of GH¢459 million from BOST operations alone.
He said boldly that it had to take the NPP administration to put proper measures in place to end dumsor upon taking office in 2017.
He said energy tariffs under President Akufo-Addo were far less than they were under former President Mahama.
Mr. Amewu again recounted how the former President could tell Ghanaians to pay more for uninterrupted power supply and in spite of the high tariffs charged Ghanaians continued to sleep in darkness for many years.
He said the NPP government had been able to reduce rural electrification levy from five per cent to three per cent and street lighting levy also reduced from five per cent to two per cent.
According to him, the government has also ensured the “reclassification of consumer categories to protect lifeline and strategic industrial customers.”
He stated that over $100 million had been made available to the ECG to replace its obsolete equipment, saying when completed, “the lights will be brighter, and stable.”
He said the government would ensure the efficient collection of electricity bills.
Mr. Amewu said, “We can only secure the future when the planners, the doers, the framers and the designers are allowed to continue what they are doing. In any design that the designer is not part of construction, there is failure. In any design system that the framers and those who bring together how the architecture will look like are taken out, there will always be failure.
“Any designer who doesn’t take into consideration the input of those who started it, there will always be failure. And so the ideas and rationale that has made it possible that we are today witnessing affordable and uninterrupted supply of power is because there are some competent framers and designers and it is only prudent that in securing the future, we allow those competent people to stay in power.”
Mr. Mahama on a campaign trail at Ashalley Botwe in Accra on Tuesday, insisted that he ended dumsor in 2016 before exiting office on January 7, 2017, and accused the NPP government of using ‘lies’ to claim credit for what he said he did.
He said he brought in the controversial Ameri power plant and the Karpowership which he said helped to end dumsor in December 2015, saying, “Those two new power plants we brought led to an end to dumsor.”
“The NPP thinks Ghanaians aren’t smart enough; they think our memory is blurry. There was no dumsor in 2016,” he said, adding, “There was no power cuts or power rationing in 2016 but if the NPP claims they ended dumsor, I dare them to show me just one power plant they brought into the country to add to the already-existing ones.”
Mr. Mahama claimed the NPP added “Zero megawatt! They have not added even a megawatt to the existing one!”
By Melvin Tarlue