Ghana, a Country of Perpetual Power Problems?

 In Monday’s newspaper, new schedules for “lightoff” or power sharing were announced (Unfortunately not yet on LightOffGH). Again? Before the election, we were told that shortages were due to a cut in the gaspipeline from Nigeria, but although that has been fixed apparently power is currently scarce and scheduled to going off every other day, all day or evening! Now, that’s is worse than ever!

The implications of this situation is devastating for growth, business and –  face it  – sleep in a country that keeps to a cosy 30 degrees also at night and offers a darkness full of malaria mosquitoes. Without a fan, life is difficult!

You toss and turn

Then try to lie still as to not work up a sweat

You look over at your window

The curtain hangs as still as was it made from stone

No breeze tonight

You sigh

You close your eyes and think of the beach

Wind in your hair, waves hitting the shore…

…wait, what is that sound…bzz…. a mosquito?

 

I am still to hear about a plan for how Ghana will get out of this energy crisis. The vision offered on the Ministry of Energy’s website seems overtly ambitious: “To enable Ghana become a net exporter of fuel and power”. What is the medium term or even short term plan?

Dear Minister of Energy (do we even have one?), will we continue to live in darkness in 2013?

My Views on ECG in The Mirror

On Saturday, I was interviewed in Ghanaian weekly The Mirror about the ECG scandal revealed and discussed earlier on the blog here.

This is what I said:

“People I talked to yesterday had very similar feelings to my own. We felt disappointed and angry. A state company is supposed to look after the interests of the state, and a state is its citizens. Rather, Anas report revealed, ECG is giving favors to corporations and making it difficult for individuals to even obtain a meter to get on the grid. A new friend even said, knowing it had gone this far, he felt he is losing hope and becoming cynical.

It seems ECG forgot their role of distributing electricity to individuals and companies and collecting money for it. On JoyFM the ECG spokesperson Dr Smart-Yeboah said the role of the company was to help keep companies in business – I disagree with that.

The management of ECG and its board should accept responsibility. The Public Utilities Regulatory Commission (PURC) have been quiet on these issues. Ultimately, in my understanding, the Ministry of Energy is in charge of electricity in Ghana.

I think, except for the changes that ECG will do internally, we all have to help in the solutions. At Ashesi University College we have a course in business ethics that we call Giving Voice to Values. We assume we all have values, we can differentiate right from wrong – the difficulty is to voice those values.
Sometimes just asking a question is a start. Director of Public Affairs at ECG said on JoyFM “I have heard a lot of complaints, ‘they are asking money’, but nobody will tell you who.” Here we the public have to step up. Next time someone asks for bribe, can we ask for their full name? To talk to their manager? Can we call a journalist and ask them to look into the practice? Companies can help us by having hotline numbers and people on the other side of the line who are trained to take such complaints. Name tags for all employees would also be helpful.

I am not the right person to say what ECG should do now. However, this is a very serious blow to the credibility of the company and hence Ghanaians are expecting change.”

Fellow bloggers Edward Tagoe and Obed Sarpong were also interviewed. Click on their names for their blog posts on the scandal. Read more about teaching Giving Voice to Values here.

ECG Corruption Revealed by Anas Aremeyaw: The Reactions on Twitter

Ghana’s favorite (and only?) investigative journalist has done it again – revealing excessive corruption where the general public had a hunch something was fishy. Last time it was the Ports and Harbors (GHAPOHA). This time the Electricity Company of Ghana (ECG) has been monitored over 8 months as Anas Aremeyaw took up work with the company. And what stories!

This morning, as radio station JoyFM carried Anas Aremeyaw’s story, I was first alone to be tweeting on it, but soon the Ghanaian Twitterverse exploded. I’d like to share some of the comments with you here (with a little help from widget BlackBirdPie):

[blackbirdpie url=”https://twitter.com/#!/kajsaha/status/161355926832562176″]

[blackbirdpie url=”https://twitter.com/#!/nautyinaccra/status/161368470578139136″]

[blackbirdpie url=”https://twitter.com/#!/Ghanareporters/status/161371755976474624″]

[blackbirdpie url=”https://twitter.com/#!/SorayaSpeaks/status/161392936909668352″]

[blackbirdpie url=”https://twitter.com/#!/oBiii/status/161393883480207360″]

[blackbirdpie url=”https://twitter.com/#!/manifestive/status/161388592063713280″]

[blackbirdpie url=”https://twitter.com/#!/kinnareads/status/161385070756757504″]

[blackbirdpie url=”https://twitter.com/#!/grahamk5/status/161391241840431104″]

[blackbirdpie url=”https://twitter.com/#!/MacJordaN/status/161389414247972864″]

[blackbirdpie url=”https://twitter.com/#!/Joselyn_Dumas/status/161392577919205376″]

In Ghana, Twitter is quickly gaining ground. I believe social media can be highly useful to create momentum around a topic such as this, as many tweets or short posts, apart from showing the people of Ghana’s rage, also came with suggestions on how to move forward and who to hold accountable.