On the last day of the just-ended National Policy Summit in Accra, Ghana’s Energy Minister was reported to have announced that if current reforms being carried out in energy sector are successful, the country could be exporting power to some of our neighbors by the close of 2020 (See “Ghana to Export Power by 2020 – Energy Minister” MyJoyOnline.com / Ghanaweb.com 5/16/17).

I find the preceding statement to irritably reflect the sort of smug exuberance that has become typical of the average Ghanaian politician. It is insufferably pedestrian because we have heard the same thing nauseatingly over and over again. It is also inexcusably annoying because we just emerged from a Dumsor funk in which for more than three years, the Mahama-led regime of the National Democratic Congress (NDC) made similar smug and pedestrian propagandistic statements that only saw the majority of small-scale and middle-level businesses totally collapse, and Ghana’s projected target of becoming a lower-middle-income economy – whatever that means – decidedly become a pipe-dream.

Why the quixotic ambition to export energy to our neighbors should become such an obsession beats the most thoughtful and pragmatic imagination. In other words, do politicians like Mr. Boakye-Agyarko ever seriously think about the imperative need of Ghana’s becoming energy self-sufficient before cavalierly presuming to export the same to other countries in the West African sub-region? One only needs to revisit the pronouncements of Ghanaian politicians on the subject of energy overproduction and exportation since the era of the Nkrumah-led Convention People’s Party (CPP) to start throwing up uncontrollably. Couple the preceding with the grotesque regime in which Ghana was exporting energy to some of our neighboring countries and importing energy, at the same time from these same countries, and our priorities could not seem to be more retarded.

You see, what Mr. Boakye-Agyarko needs to be telling the nation is why he is so optimistic that by 2020 Ghana will be generating an excess energy capacity of at least 1,700 Megawatts. Does this mean, for example, that the nation would have reached the fullest expansion of its industrial capacity, with the rate of youthful unemployment at least half of what it is presently? Put another way, exporting energy abroad, wherever this may be, ought not to be counted among the list of items on our development agenda. Stabilizing the sustainability of our energy production must be our priority.

What most Ghanaians want to hear more about are plans to facilitate standby or back-up energy supply for both our privately owned and publicly owned enterprises, in order to drastically reduce production incapacity or limitations in case of an emergency. Long gone is the era when our politicians could afford the hokey luxury of rhetorical pan-Africanism. This is the era of practical reality. In essence, let us first fully focus our talents and resources on feeding everybody, as well as clothing and sheltering everybody in our household, and then we can begin to lucidly think about the needs and aspirations of our neighbors. Of course, we can do a bit of both at the same time; nonetheless, the bulk of our planning and strategizing ought to be focused on ourselves.

For not only must charity begin at home, as the tired old maxim goes, common sense is also inescapably and organically home-brewed. By all means, let us cross the proverbial bridge when we get to the same. Let us equally not carry our ambitions too far ahead of our talents and abilities.

By Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe, Jr., Ph.D.

English Department, SUNY-Nassau

Garden City, New York