…..With his usual tribal bigotry
The African Centre for Energy Policy (ACEP) has rubbished attempt by the Energy Minister to hide behind tribal rhetoric in response to concerns, including inflation of the cost of relocating the 250 megawatts (MW) AMERI power plant, from the Aboadze power enclave in the Western Region to Kumasi in the Ashanti Region by US$10 million.
Matthew Opoku Prempeh alias NAPO, who doubles as the Member of Parliament (MP) for Manhyia South Constituency in the Ashanti Region, had on Accra-based Peace FM on Wednesday, claimed that ACEP was “only against the AMERI plant relocation because it is going to Kumasi.”
The Energy think tank, had on Tuesday at a press conference revealed it had detected some financial anomalies in government’s decision to enter into a sole-sourced agreement with the controversial Greek company Mytilineos Holdings to transport and operate the Ameri power plant.
ACEP disclosed seeing documents in which the Dr. Opoku Prempeh quotes US$35.6 million as the cost of the relocation in a 17th December 2021 letter to Volta River Authority (VRA) although the Greek company had in a proposal put before the ministry demanded $25.48 million for the same job.
It asked “Cabinet and Parliament should assume critical responsibility for the efficient planning of the sector. Government should be transparent about plans to renegotiate power plants” especially so when VRA management and staff insist, they are in a position to do the said job and have written to the Energy Minister to that effect but had been ignored.
But in a response, the Minister of Energy in an interview granted to Peace FM on Kokrokoo Morning Show on Wednesday, August 3, 2022 refused to answer directly to the issues of the inflated cost, why he was prevented the Volta River Authority (VRA) although officials insist they could do the job,”ACEP is inciting agitations and demonstrations against the relocation of the plant among others.
The think in a statement said “it is important to state that ACEP has no direct interest in wherever the Ameri plant is located beyond the public interest”, adding “from the Minister’s interview, he has either not read ACEP’s press statement or was deliberately mischievous because he did not address the substantive issues raised in our statement”.
On the minister’s claim that “ACEP is only against the Ameri plant relocation because it is going to Kumasi”, the statement said his position connotes “a tribal hate of ACEP for the people of Kumasi. ACEP is not against the location of a power plant in any part of Ghana”.
It stated “we analyze the decisions of the Energy Ministry based on their strategic or proprietary fit at a particular time. In our statement, we were emphatic that there may be a need for power generation in the middle belt in the medium to long term. However, with the cash-strapped power sector managed by the same Minister, the most optimal decisions must be prioritized.
“The power sector’s financial situation is worsening every year and requires decisions that, at the barest minimum, reduce the burden and not add on. In 2020 and 2021, the government shouldered total under-recoveries from the sector to over GHS 14 billion (GHS 6.8 billion in 2020, and the cedi equivalent of $1.257 billion in 2021). In addition, the sector’s outstanding payments for gas and IPPs are in excess of $1.2 billion (GHS9.6 billion) for the first half of 2022.
On the minister’s claim that “ACEP sent the statement to the NDC first,” the think tank said “this is completely false. The Minister cannot provide any evidence to back this claim. Our statement was first read at about 10:15 am and broadcasted on Zoom and Facebook in the presence of the media. Any evidence or trace before this time would confirm what the Minister is claiming. It is important to note that our statements are public documents available to the government and the opposition”.
On his claim that “ACEP is inciting agitations and demonstrations against the relocation of the plant,” again ACEP described it as “another false statement”.
It added that “ACEP is neither aware of any demonstrations organized anywhere on Ameri nor have we instigated one. Therefore, we can say authoritatively that the Minister cannot substantiate this claim”.
On the claim that “VRA is leading the negotiations and not the Ministry of Energy”, ACEP refuted this saying “..all the available evidence show that the Ministry, at all times, has been Ghana’s negotiating party. The proposal from Mytilineos SA for $25.48 million was submitted to the Ministry”.
“The Ministry did the negotiations, applied for PPA approval for $71.6 million ($35.6 million for the relocation and $36 million for the operations and maintenance) and sought the legal opinion of the Attorney General’s office for the contract. It was subsequent to these that the VRA Senior Staff Association wrote to protest the negotiations done by the Ministry.
On his claim that “Bui is a peaking plant that only works for 4-5 hours in the day,” ACEP’s stated that “Bui is a peaking plant because Ghana has made it so, not because it has “peaking turbines”. Bui is a 400MW plant, however, the plant cannot generate at that capacity all year round due to limitations with the available volumes of water in a given year”.
“This is why Ghana decided to generate power from Bui at full capacity during the peak hours. The simple point ACEP made in the statement is that, instead of operating 400MW at peak periods, we could reduce the generation to about 150MW for the plant to run 24 hours a day to support generation from the East and Western power enclaves (where we are told there is excess capacity) for a period that gives Ghana a breathing space to address the fiscal challenges in the power sector. Any plant that can start and shut in a matter of minutes can be designated as a peaking plant.
ACEP reiterated that “the challenges of the power sector require the full focus of the Minister of Energy than accusing ACEP of hate for the people of Kumasi, pandering to the opposition and instigating agitations. For Ghana to pay over GHS14 billion in 2020 and 2021 with an outstanding debt of about GHS17.6 billion (GHS9.6 billion for gas and IPP debts and about GHS8 billion from ESLA), the fiscal challenges in the sector are getting to overwhelming levels that require the control of debt accumulation, not personalization and accusations. ACEP remains committed to providing credible policy analysis and alternatives without fear or favor, in the national interest”.
Dr. Opoku Prempeh, who mostly appears not on top of his briefs, has a penchant for throwing tribal jabs in response to very serious national issues.
Last Tuesday in an interview onAsempa FM’s Ekosii Sen on the ongoing issues between the Electricity Company of Ghana (ECG) and residents ofSomanya in the Eastern Region, he remarked that “Akosombo does not belong to Krobo people, for them to refuse to pay bills but rather the Akwamus people.
“No one can claim that they will not pay their electricity bill. With due respect, if ECG and NEDCo supply you with light and you refuse to pay, then you don’t deserve it. Akosombo does not belong to the Krobo people, it belongs to the people of Akwamufie, even the people whose land was used to build the Akosombo Dam are not on strike. They have no legitimate claim for refusing to pay their electricity bills.
“They (sections of Krobo youth) claim Kwame Nkrumah said 50 years after Akosombo, they shouldn’t pay for electricity, that claim is illegitimate,” the Minister stressed.
In December 2021, the same Dr Opoku-Prempeh, while speaking on Asempa FM’s Ekosii Sen where he feels overly comfortable, threatened to lead a demo in the Ashanti Region if the Keta tidal waves are captured in the 2022 Budget.
The demo he claimed was to push for the Ashanti Region to also be included, stating residents have experienced a series of flooding incidents in the year.