President John 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 onto 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.
President Mahama said the government was working hard to achieve the target of 3,000 megawatts by 2020 to position Ghana as an energy hub in the sub-region.
This year’s address, which lasted for almost four hours, characteristically saw members of the Minority heckling the President while the Majority applauded intermittently.
The President emphasised the progress his government had made in dealing with the power (dumsor) situation.
He 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 at 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,” President Mahama told the legislators.
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 Karpower barge had injected 220 megawatts into the grid, the AMERI plant was supplying 250 megawatts; an additional 180 megawatts was expected when gas flow began to feed into phase II of the Asogli Plant.
According to the President, although the energy challenges had remarkably improved, more needed to be done to give the country a sustainable power supply system.
He indicated that the current low level of water in the Volta Lake called for more thermal power generation.
The President said the Electricity Company of Ghana (ECG) was undergoing a corporate reorganisation to make it more responsive to customer expectations.
He said the government had also embarked on a massive expansion of electricity coverage and asked the Energy Commission to sensitise the public to the need to conserve power.
Touching on the recent hikes in utility tariffs, the President explained that that had become necessary to help save the situation, explaining that the indebtedness within the power sector called for such drastic decisions.
On the agriculture sector, the President mentioned the distribution of five million high-yielding coffee seedlings free of charge to farmers.
He said the government, through the Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD), had also 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 for young people who wished to venture into farming.