Friday, November 28, 2014

Nothing wrong with "selling" the Electricity Company of Ghana (ECG)

Saturday, November 29, 2014
Folks, the removal of William Hutton-Mensah as Managing Director of the Electricity Company of Ghana (ECG) and his re-assignment to the Ministry of Power/Energy by President Mahama has provoked some kind of public discourse and angered a cross-section of workers of the ECG.
Apparently, those objecting to the President's action are raising reasons to suggest that the President's action is misplaced, uncalled-for, and vindictive (because of allegations that Hutton-Mensah couldn't see eye-to-eye with the government on how the ECG should be managed). The cross-section of aggrieved ECG workers have even threatened to take to the streets to register their protest and to hammer home their demand for Hutton-Mensah to be reinstated. President Mahama hasn't budged and won't do so. I respect him for that doggedness as the fount of authority in/of Ghana acting to make change happen.

Some political opponents are even deriding the President for "sacrificing" Mr. Hutton-Mills on the altar of the "Dumsor... Dumsor" albatross as if he is solely responsible for the energy crisis. Others see it as an act of victimization, which won't solve the pertinent problem. No matter what is happening, the fact remains that "Dumsor" is still a long way away from being eradicated. Certainly, the creation of the new Ministry of Power and the justification for moving Mr. Hutton-Mensah there seems to be strong enough a reason to support the President's action. So much for that.
Now, in a new twist of sorts, a Cletus Abaare of the Crystal Clear Lens newspaper has put out a news report to add a different complexion to the matter. According to him, the President removed Mr. Hutton-Mensah from the ECG because he (Mr. Hutton-Mensah) has strongly resisted moves by the government to sell the ECG to an "American company" (name not mentioned).
As the news report says, Mr. Hutton-Mensah refused to sign the volume of documents containing proposals to bring in the American company to take over the management of the ECG.
According to the report, Mr. Hutton-Mensah refused to reason with the government and kicked against the proposals, stating that "we can manage the company better; we do not need any company to come and mange (manage?) it for us".
He also refused to sign a document given him by the government to clear the way for the sale of the ECG. The news report says that the document has been signed by the new acting MD, Mr Robert Dwamena, who was appointed last week to take over the affairs of the company.
The newspaper cited its sources as revealing further that in his vehement protest against the government on the move, Mr. Hutton-Mensah held several meetings with the senior staff of the company and influenced them to fiercely resist the government on going ahead with the sale. (See http://www.ghanaweb.com/GhanaHomePage/NewsArchive/artikel.php?ID=336881)

MY COMMENTS
No matter what lies behind the removal of Mr. Hutton-Mensah from the ECG, I see nothing wrong with the President's action. The energy crisis cannot be blamed on the ECG alone but the fact that it has assumed a huge political coloration suggests that whatever action can be taken to streamline affairs and plug all loopholes should be taken.
The causes of the "Dumsor... Dumsor" problem may not be too difficult to know; and if the ECG (the sole distributor of electricity) is fingered as one of the weak links in the chain, whatever action needs to be taken to right the wrong should be welcomed by all.
Others involved in the energy sector (VRA, GRIDCO, etc.) should also be "touched" for them to do the right thing. Then, the government must also sit up to play its part (if it has to do with policy initiatives and directives). The creation of the Ministry of Power is one major step that should be pursued till the necessary structures are put in place to solve the energy crisis.
The claim by the Crystal Clear Lens newspaper to put an alarming spin on the matter is despicable. I see nothing wrong with "selling" the ECG to anybody or entity anywhere in the world, provided the move will improve operations and provide uninterrupted electricity service to consumers.
I am more than glad to know from the Crystal Clear Len's publication that that the company to take over management of the ECG is an "American" (meaning the United States) one. Electricity generation, distribution, and consumption in the US is perfectly done to boost domestic and industrial life. If such a company can help Ghana solve her electricity problem, why not bring it on board?
Anybody reading any other meaning into what is happening at the ECG may be wasting time and energy for nothing. I will encourage the government to go ahead with whatever plans it has up its sleeves to improve management of the ECG to enhance efficiency and productivity. Let the critics blow hot air as usual.
Did Kufuor not sell Ghana Telecom? And isn't the telecom sector performing better than ever before, regardless of some glitches here and there?
If it is true that the ECG is on line to be sold to an American company, the efforts should not end there. The government must put the other partners in the energy sector on the spot and look for operators from anywhere in the world to take over their affairs if that is what will help solve our energy crisis. For far too long, too much time and attention have been given to idle talk and lazy thinking, which has been our bane. The time for change is now!!
I shall return…
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