By Seibik Bugri
The Executive Director, African Center for Energy Policy (ACEP), Dr Mohammed Amin Adam has advised students reading Political Economy of University of Cape Coast (UCC) to read wide beyond what they have been taught to broaden their horizon to make them more knowledgeable, competitive and versatile on a wide range of issues.
These, he explained will make them think broadly, focused on policy and not politics to assist in fashioning out solutions to the numerous challenges facing African countries he added.
Dr Adam made the call when students from the Sociology Department of UCC paid a study tour of ACEP in Accra as part of their academic activities. Opening day?s forum, he stated that ACEP is a ? Do and Think Tank? Center as it does advocacy in addition to research, training to both public and private officials as well as offering advise on wide range of issues in the oil and gas sector across the Continent.
Africa Power Challenge: the Paradox of Plenty
Addressing the youth, Dr Adam revealed that Africa was a dark continent because of huge infrastructure deficit according to figures from the World Bank despite its abandon energy potential. He noted, how wide disparity between access to energy by urban dwellers and rural consumers in many African countries even when the energy is available. Official figures show that 70% of Ghanaians have access to electricity even in the face of the power crisis. Further, Nigeria gets power cut every 15 minutes; Tanzania and neighboring Ivory Coast all have had difficulties with power availability to their people. In the face of this, the alumnus of UCC suggested that the solution lies in a unified approach rather than individual initiatives. Huge water bodies are available but African Countries cannot make good use them for hydro.
Africa has the largest fossil energy potential and yet it has the least energy compared to Spain a country in Europe. The potential of Hydro power is about 92% untapped and yet Africa is in the dark just as renewal energy has a huge potential as well he added. Energy demand is set to rise heavily as many factories will be opened and population will be growing. Also urbanization will accelerate by 2030 and that demands power.
Educating the level 300 and 400 students, Dr Adam said Africa is not able to attract the needed private capital because the sector is still unattractive. Countries lack capacity to plan, lack private capital well as lacking the political will to deal with the realities on the ground. Building a competitive market to accelerate a sub-regional power pool instead of individual countries seeking to solve their problems should be best solutions the investment challenge and private capital flow into the sector.
Taking his turn, the Director of Operations, Ben Boakye, took them through some basic topics of the industry. Its history, concepts of energy, Policy issues, exploratory and regulatory issues and the Oil management bill. They were also taken through the evolution of Ghana?s laws in the sector and the need to make reforms to enable the country get maximum benefit from the sector. He urged them to show active interest in the sector especially how revenues from the sector is being utilized.
Head of Policy Unit, Dr Ishmeal Ackah told the gathering that one of the major causes of the current power crisis in Ghana is the low water level in the Akosombo Dam. He disclosed that if government does not take a decisive decision regarding the Electricity Company of Ghana (ECG) it will soon grand to a halt. Ghana needs $ 4 billion dollars in the next10 years to fix the energy crisis which is plagued with inefficiencies, old and outdated equipments etc suggesting that management should be on contracts. He said the unrealistic tariffs regime is inhibiting private capital.
Responding, the leader of the students, John Windie Ansah of the Sociology Department, UCC noted the usefulness of the trip was to give them the practical lessons needed as part of the training of the students.