Political parties going into Ghana’s 2016 general election will need to prioritize issues of energy if they are to get the mandate of the electorates to govern.
That is the consensus of a forum on the ‘Citizen Agenda for Energy Sector Development’ held in Kumasi, which attracted industry players, civil society groups, students and the media.
Ghana’s power crisis has over the past five years damaged the country’s economic growth prospects – businesses have collapsed, jobs lost and livelihoods negatively impacted.
Meanwhile, petroleum exploration in the past three-and-half years has generated some Gh3.5billion in revenue, and more revenue is expected with the coming of stream of the TEN and Sankofa projects.
Yet there have been concerns about the prudent management and investment of revenue from the oil and gas sector.
As electioneering 2016 heats up, energy will be an important area of interest, observed Seji Saji of the African Centre for Energy Policy (ACEP).
“The petroleum sector of our country has become so intertwined with our national lives that the wishes of our people will be unfulfilled if we do not make energy an important issue in this year’s election,” he stated.
ACEP, with support from the Ghana Oil and Gas for Inclusive Growth (GOGIG), has therefore set forth a process to engage the public on priority areas in the power and petroleum sectors to inform political parties’ manifestoes in Election 2016.
The discussions to collate public inputs, taking place in the Northern, Ashanti and Western regions, will form the basis of the Citizen’s Energy Manifesto.
Some participants of the citizens’ forum in Kumasi said they will be interested in knowing the management and investments of oil revenue as well as plans of the various political parties to deal with the power crisis.
President of the Ghana Association of Energy Economics, Joshua Sarpong Kumankumah, is interested in seeing some of the energy levies removed on petroleum products as soon as possible.
“I also think our political parties must be bold enough and have in their manifestoes to protect the interest of the energy sector by ensuring that it is not privatized; as it happened to SIC and as it happened to GOIL, I think government can float shares for Ghanaians to own ECG,” he said.
Acting Ashanti Regional Secretary of the Trades Union Congress (TUC), Eric Amoadu-Boateng, said the Union continues to oppose the privatization of state-owned enterprises, including the Electricity Company of Ghana (ECG).
He said recent past experience in the water sector demands caution in the government’s move for private sector involvement in the distribution of power.
“We must be guided by history,” said Mr. Amoadu-Boateng. “It appears that the Millennium Development Authority (MIDA) is unduly influencing the debate; it’s about time that issues of national sovereignty are decided by the people and not Washington-influenced technocrats”.
Head of Policy Unit at ACEP, Dr. Ishmael Ackah, said the ‘Citizen Agenda for Energy Sector Development’ project will serve as an instrument for building political consensus of policies in the energy sector.
The “Citizens Energy Manifesto” will be presented to presidential candidates of political parties, who will be expected to declare their commitments to the citizens’ energy agenda.
Story by Kofi Adu Domfeh | 3news.com