KT Hammond
KT Hammond

As the debate rages on about possible solutions to the perennial challenges on the energy sector in Ghana, Minister for Energy and Petroleum, Emmanuel Armah-Kofi Buah and the ranking member of Mines and Energy Committee in Parliament, Kobina Tahir Hammond have been busy out-doing each other in a ?blame game? as to which administration did better for the country in terms of energy.

KT Hammond
KT Hammond

The 2015 budget and economic policy of government highlights some achievements of the government on the energy sector as well as its proposed measures to deal with the situation, particularly in the power sector.

The venue was Parliament House, in a follow up debate on the energy sector last week. The two MPs argued their stands strongly, with rebuttals. While Buah, in his argument sought to raise the hopes of the people of Ghana by assuring of brighter times ahead due to the massive investments the government was making in the sector, K.T. Hammond thought the situation was hopeless.

Emmanuel Armah-Kofi Buah
Emmanuel Armah-Kofi Buah

According to the Minister, with the plans and programs being put in place by the government the current energy challenges being experienced in the country should soon be over.

He was hopeful that the medium term arrangements currently ongoing will ensure that the citizenry get adequate supply as they deserved and that it is time for all stakeholders to say ?never again? to the? dumsor dumsor? menace in Ghana.

?We have a hopeful future when it comes to power supply. I am proud to say that if all the plans we have laid takes off, by July 2017 this country would have 300 million standard cubic feet of gas per day for the next 20 years. That is the leadership this government is providing to address the issue of the power sector,? he stated.

He told Parliament that by ushering the country into the gas era as announced by the Minister of Finance, Ghana has made history by? transporting gas 60 km from sea to the gas processing plant and 110 km to Aboadze. ?He said this was historic for this country and must be commended.

?Within a short period we are bringing the gas to a maximum point of 120. We are hoping the second development the TEN Project will bring additional 50 million,? the Minister stated whilecontributing to the debate on the 2015 budget and economic policy of government on the floor of parliament.

According to him, in 2013 the government made it a policy to explain to Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) that electricity, going forward will be very expensive though it was not a major issue in the last 40 years, since they never really paid for it.

?We are saying that in the 21st century and going forward it is going to be thermal generation and other generations that are going to be expensive. We must begin taking responsibility for electricity. We have introduced prepayment meters and we are going forward to strengthen that as well,? he noted.

On the challenges of power distribution he said the government is taking serious steps to strengthen the power distribution sector, reemphasizing the government?s earlier commitments that the MCC Compact II will be exclusively used to transform transmission and distribution.

For Hon. Buah, within the last year, ?government had done a lot to improve the original reliability of power in the country. ?Sunyani main 1km has been completed, Kumasi Bulk supply point has been completed; 151 Tumu-Wa is also 60% complete; all these are to strengthen our distribution system. We are strengthening our distribution sector but we are not stopping there. We are infusing over 500m dollars to transform distribution.?

In reactions to recent comments by some industry players as to why the Independent Power Producers (IPPs) are shying away from establishing in Ghana, the Minister argued: ?They were not coming because our utility institutions are financially weak, too much risk for them to invest in power, but we are changing that completely. ?In this budget is the infrastructure fund, we are taking advantage of the gas era and 2 billion cubic feet of gas which because of good negotiations Ghana had, to create a fund to clean up the indebtedness. That is the vision of President John Dramani Mahama for the power sector,? he stated.

The MCC, according to the Minister, will focus on turning around ECG, and GRIDCo, because, to him the people of Ghana deserves to have utmost customer service. ?We are going to look at areas where private sector can participate and make sure that the future of this country has a strong distribution sector,? he stated.

On the petroleum sector, Buah said ?because of prudent measures this year we have strengthened the upstream sector and empowered local content ; I can talk about how Ghanaians are taking their proper place in the upstream industry; Ghanaians are gradually coming up and taking the driving seat; we have strengthened regulations; ?we are drafting mid-term regulations;, we are drafting safety and health regulations ; we have laid the Exploration and Production Bill that will really address the issues of transparency, strengthen our environment and make sure the issue of local content is tackled. Government is leading the way to make Ghana the hub of oil and exploration in the sub-region.?

The Minister?s pronouncements however did not go down well with K.T. Hammond, a former Deputy Energy Minister under the John Agyekum Kufuor administration. To him the government got it all wrong by stating that the country is being ushered into a gas era.

He took on the Minister for suggesting that the National Democratic Congress (NDC) administration contributed massively to the discovery of oil in commercial quantities.? ?Commerciality of oil was declared in Ghana on the 19th of June 2007 when I was the deputy minister for energy. I have never served under the NDC administration, how come this government is saying that they put the country on the road to the discovery of oil and gas,? he queried.

According to him ?PNDC Law 83 and PNDC Law 64 in 1983 were the ones that started off with GNPC, and the PNDC Law 84 was the one that set into motion Exploration and Production Activities; 20 years down the line they did not discover one teaspoon of oil in this country, it took the ingenuity of John Agyekum Kufuor and his NPP government to undertake the process of meticulously?? going into deep sea offshore, where we made discovery of oil. It does not sit in the mouth of the Minister for Finance or Energy to make the declaration that they have boldly made in this budget?.

He accused the Minister of deliberately peddling untruth on the current generating capacity of the country. ?My colleague started with the Akosombo dam; yes, Kwame Nkrumah started with the Akosombo dam, and the NPP government realized that the turbines at Akosombo needed retrofitting; we retrofitted and in the process increased the capacity of the country by 128 mw.

?The Minister deliberately didn?t mention the Bui project. Even though governor Guggisburg? and others had all talked about it, it took the NPP government to put it into practice to make sure that it was? effectualized, that it became a reality. That was the time I was at the Ministry of Energy, so it doesn?t sit in the mouth of the minister to say that the NPP government has not put in place any measure,? Hammond? argued.

K.T. Hammond said it was the NPP government that took a decision to go for a combined cycle rather than a single cycle, and that was why ?we brought TAQA, which is still in town. I was present with President Kufuor when we brought TAQA to this town, turned TICO for a combined cycle to produce 330mw, nobody is talking about that

?I dared the energy Minister to prove to Ghanaians that apart from the plant that he himself identified and the singular generating capacity of 2 megawatts solar energy identified somewhere in the Northern region, let the NDC government tell this country whatever additional generation capacity they have added to this country?.

Source: Jeorge Wilson Kingson || Spy News Agency

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