President John Dramnai Mahama has stated that his vision to make Ghana an energy distribution hub in West Africa is on course, following the generation and injection of more power into the national grid.
He said the improved capacity of the Bulk Oil Storage and Transportation Company Limited (BOST) to distribute oil to neighbouring countries such as Burkina Faso and Mali bore testimony to the fact that the country was on course to becoming energy efficient.
Delivering the 2016 State of the Nation Address to Parliament Thursday, the President said the Tema Oil Refinery (TOR) which had not been operating for a long time was back on stream to help improve the energy situation.
This year’s address which lasted almost four hours characteristically saw members of the Minority heckling the President, while the members of the Majority applauded him at some stages of his delivery.
The President touted his achievements in the energy sector with particular emphasis on the progress his government had been making to deal with the power crisis.
He mentioned how crippling the crisis was and expressed delight that the promise he made last year to fix the problem had come true
“I stood before this very august house and promised to fix the power sector deficit that at the time had become a significant constraint to the economic growth and a destruction to Ghanaians both home and at work.
“This was a time of considerable national anxiety. The deficit brought about a severe power rationing, and I was very much concerned. Ghanaians had to sleep in darkness or spend money to fuel generators. Businesses faced challenges, and I expressed my full regret to the nation and that I took full responsibility as President and leader of this nation and Commander in Chief,” he told the legislators.
While admitting that overcoming the challenge was not easy, he nonetheless was excited that the hard work had achieved results.
Cataloguing the government’s achievements in the energy sector, President Mahama indicated that under his administration, the energy sector had witnessed the highest injection of power in the history of the country.
He explained that 800 megawatts of power had been added to the national grid within the shortest possible time, adding that while car power barge had injected 220 megawatts into the grid, the AMERI plant was supplying 250 megawatts.
President Mahama said additional 180 megawatts was expected when gas flow began to feed into phase II of the Asogli Plant.
The President said that although the debilitating energy challenges that hit the country had remarkably improved, more needed to be done to give the country a sustainable power supply.
He said the government would put the necessary interventions in place in ensure that the country did not return to the days of ‘dumsor’, adding that the current low level of water in the Volta Lake called for more thermal generation which in effect brought about high tariffs.
President Mahama expressed the conviction that the country would be energy efficient as the government was working hard to achieve the target of 3,000 megawatts by 2020 to position Ghana as an energy in the sub-region.
Turning the spotlight on the Electricity Company of Ghana (ECG), the President said the company was undergoing a corporate reorganisation to make it more responsive to customer expectations.
He explained that under the new arrangement, the ECG would move to improve customer care among other areas that required improvement to enhance the performance of the company.
President Mahama alluded to the replacement of prepaid metres on all government institutions, saying that the process was still ongoing.
He mentioned that his government had embarked on a massive expansion of electricity coverage and asked the Energy Commission to sensitise the public on the need to conserve power in view of the improved energy delivery situation.
Touching on the recent hikes in utility tariffs, the President remarked that difficult decisions were required to help save the situation, explaining that the indebtedness within the power sector called for such drastic decisions.
Turning to the agriculture sector, the President mentioned the distribution of five million high yielding coffee seedlings free of charge to farmers who want to venture into coffee farming.
He said the government, through the Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD) had initiated a programme to encourage the youth to go into cocoa farming with incentives such as free cocoa seedlings and inputs.
The President called on traditional authorities to provide land to young people who wish to venture into the cultivation of cocoa.
President Mahama announced the government’s intention to initiate a programme for the production of palm oil to create jobs in the sector.
A palm development board, according to the President, would be set up to supervise the programme.
Source: Graphic Online