Ghanaians, Ladies and Gentlemen;
I am delighted to be part of this ground-breaking ceremony to mark the
commencement of the 400-MegaWatt Bridge Power Project.
Mr. Chairman, for the past five years, our experiences with power supply
have been traumatic. All aspects of our lives have been affected. The
economy has been damaged, businesses have been destroyed, individual
and family lives have been put under severe stress and our self-confidence
has been dented.
Yes, in true Ghanaian style, we have tried to make light of a deadly serious
and depressing situation with jokes, but we all know that this is not an
experience we would want to continue an extra day. I am sure all
Ghanaians are agreed that never again should we allow ourselves to get
into a similar situation. As your President, I know that the problem of power
supply is at the top of the list of problems that must be solved.
I am here this afternoon, because this project is consistent with our vision
to make our country self-sufficient in electricity for industrial and domestic
use, to drive the socio-economic development of our nation.
This Bridge Power project would, therefore, be one of several initiatives
that will be introduced along the power supply value chain in order to
achieve a cost effective, efficient and sustainable Energy Sector.
We have come a long way from the Power Sector Reforms that started in
the 1990s to enable Independent Power Producers, like Early Power, also
to contribute to the installed generation capacity of the country.
There are no arguments today about the participation of the private sector
to meet the growing demand for electricity. What arguments and anxieties
there have been have centered around the nature of the agreements that
have been made with private producers. It might well be that many of such
agreements have been negotiated during emergency periods and times of
power shortages. Dare I say, however, that, thus far, it looks like the
Government of Ghana has not fared very well in these negotiations with
Independent Power Producers.
The government I lead is a natural cheerleader for the private sector, but
does so within the framework of protecting the public purse. I see no
contradiction in that. I believe that it is possible for the power producers to
make a reasonable profit with a fair agreement that does not sink the
fortunes of the country. That is wholly acceptable. Let me state it clearly
again here: we shall do all we can to provide the enabling environment for
the private sector to flourish in Ghana, but we shall also protect the public
interest every inch of the way.
Ladies and gentlemen, I note that the Early Power Group is made up of
three industry leaders joining forces to invest nearly a billion dollars in this
project. This project will use state-of-the-art equipment from General
Electric (GE), configured to make the gas engines optimally flexible and
efficient. It will be the first LPG-fired Power Plant in Africa, and the largest
in the world. In the process, Early Power will upgrade TOR’s LPG import
and storage infrastructure.
Mr. Chairman, for us laypersons, our interest in these agreements rests
largely on cost, reliability and flexibility. I am glad to learn the plant will be
able to operate on LPG, natural gas, and diesel, and this flexibility will allow
the plant to continue producing power in times of disruption in the supply of
any one of the fuel types. I am also glad to note that the project has been
specifically designed to switch to Ghana’s own natural gas, once available.
This should help advance our strategy to leverage natural gas as a long-
term source of fuel, central to the operation of the power sector.
Our power needs are high, and our ambitious plans to develop our country
and transform the economy make it imperative that we increase the
generation capacity to the country’s existing stock. But we must be realistic.
We cannot afford overcapacity in our current circumstances and we must
ensure that we procure power competitively. We cannot operate
successfully within an economy in which the energy sector is burdened with
so much debt.
I am looking forward to our working with Early Power Limited to help us
fulfill our vision of creating a modern, efficient, diversified, and financially
sustainable Energy Economy.
I intend to grow this economy industrially, and that can be achieved when
we have adequate, cost effective and sustainable power supply. The
programmes this government has lined up to undertake, such as the “One
District, One Factory”, and the “One Village One Dam” projects, will all
require significant amounts of electricity. The power produced in this
country must be cost effective, efficient and sustainable. I am informed that
the technology of this Early Power project is one of the most efficient types
in the world, and we are happy you chose it for Ghana.
Mr. Chairman, having reliable and affordable power is the top consideration
for capital investment to build or expand a factory or business. It will enable
our dressmakers and tailors stay open during the day; our students do their
homework in the evening; our factories keep running; our hospitals care for
our sick around the clock; and investors, who have been waiting on the
sidelines to build and expand factories and other businesses, which will
create jobs for many, now make their move.
Ladies and Gentlemen, as I stated in the State of the Nation Address some
weeks ago, we have commenced actions that will improve transparency in
tariff setting, and we aim to introduce very soon a new tariff policy that will
reclassify consumer categories in order to protect lifeline and strategic
Whilst we take steps to make electricity available, let us also make sure
that we use it efficiently. Turn off the lights when you leave a room. Switch
off fans when not needed. Iron your clothes in bulk. These are just a few,
simple actions we can all take. Not only will you be saving money for
yourself, but these habits are acts of citizenship and common humanity. For the industrial customers, I urge you to use energy efficient machinery and equipment at your facilities. These human attitudes prove that, even when you have power, you care enough to save what you do not need so others, too, may have.
I promise the private producers of this project that Ghana will be a great place to do business under my watch. The sector ministers will work with you to address any challenges that may arise during the implementation of the project. It is my expectation that they will be able to address these challenges satisfactorily, for they are all very competent in their domain, but, if, indeed, it becomes necessary, which I hope it will not, to go higher up the chain of authority, I want you to know that my doors will always be open. I do, on the other hand, insist that, on your part, you play according to the rules and regulations of the sector and the country as a whole.I wish all stakeholders in the project great success. We are on the threshold of something remarkable in Ghana, and I am pleased to have those involved in the Early Power Project as partners in our country’s exciting, new journey.
Thank you, and may God bless us all and our homeland Ghana, and make her great and strong.