Friday, 8 May 2015

To The Organisers Of The #DumsorMustStop Vigil

Dear #DumsorMustStop vigil organisers,

I shall go straight to the point. After keeping your forthcoming nightly vigil, one hopes that you will be inspired by President Kennedy's advice to young Americans - whom he admonished not to ask what their country could do for them, but to rather search their souls' and  ask themselves what they could do for their country (to paraphrase the late US president).

Speaking as a cantankerous old fogey, most of whose generation's greed and dishonesty  ended up destroying the moral fabric of our dear nation, my humble advice to you, is that as creative types, there is a lot you can use your imagination to do, to help change our country for the better.

To start with, request that President Mahama's government makes the entire renewable energy sector's value-chain tax free - so that roof-top solar power systems will become affordable for many ordinary Ghanaians.

You can, for example, also contact the UK organisation, Practical Action - and suggest to them that they could build micro and mini hydropower plants in Ghana on a build-operate-and-transfer basis, in partnership with reputable Ghanaian companies, such as Genelec Holdings Limited.

The feed-in tariff regime in Ghana, is quite generous to independent renewable power companies, one gathers.

Solar power offers a doable short-term off-grid solution - whiles we wait for the minimum two-years it will probably take to actually resolve the power crisis in Ghana permanently.

And because micro and mini hydropower plants use the kinetic energy of the flow of rivers and streams to produce electricity, there is no need to build super-expensive dams for power generation in their case. Perfect.

Perhaps your two  industry associations - for  film and music - could also partner Practical Action: and fund some of your own film and musical projects from your share of the profits from such a renewable energy joint-venture? Why don't you speak to the British high commissioner to Ghana, about this?

(Contact for Practical Action - Email: enquiries@practical Tel: +441926634400.)

You could also encourage President Mahama's government to invite SolarCity of the US, and M-Kopa of Kenya, to Ghana - with a view to getting them to replicate their roof-top solar power business models here, with Ghanaian partners.

You should also ask President Mahama's administration to ask the government of the Bahamas to give them copies of the proposals for providing power to that nation, which it received from a number of international consortia. The Caribbean Power Company, for instance,  submitted a proposal to the Bahamian government.

And some of those consortia included US companies willing to fund the provision of power barges themselves and also fund the restructuring of the Bahamas Electricity Corporation, the Bahamian equivalent of our Electricity Company of Ghana (ECG). SGI Global Holdings is one such consortium.

They were also willing to sell the power generated by the barges to the Bahamian government, for relatively better-value-for-money sums per kilowatt-hour than we will be paying for the electricity from the Karpowership Company of Ghana, set up by Karedeniz Holdings for their Ghanaian operations. The question is: why the fixation with Karadeniz Holdings?

Some  of us have contacted our hard-of-hearing leaders with this information to offer it to them free of charge  - but as usual it also fell on deaf ears. Pity. Perhaps they will listen to important stars like you, however. One hopes so for Mother Ghana's sake.

If truth be told, dumsor is a collective failure, on the part of all Ghanaians.

For example, millions of Ghanaians failed to join those of us who advised our New Patriotic Party (NPP) rulers at the time, not to go ahead with building the Bui dam and its hydropower plant.

It was our humble view that  as a result of the impact of global climate change on wheather patterns here, the proposed Bui hydropower plant would never be able to produce enough power - because of low water levels the dam would constantly have to grapple with: as a  result of  frequent and prolonged drought periods we would be experiencing in an era of global warming.

The money used to build the Bui hydropower plant could have built a thermal plant instead. All our pleas to the then government, made through our writing, fell on deaf ears, alas. Pity.

And neither did many Ghanaians join those of us who criticised the then government for allowing some of the family members and friends of President Kufuor to engage in egregious profiteering at the expense of the Electricity Company of Ghana (ECG) - in the contracts to supply the ECG with meters that were handed out to them like confetti.

That rip-off did not help improve the company culture of the ECG - as it encouraged the company's staff members to also engage in rip-off schemes of their own: to milk the company dry.

And as we speak, to date, ECG staff rip-off schemes still persist in the company. What are our secret services for, one wonders? Their inaction has meant that today we have dumsor to contend with. Corruption inside the ECG and other public-sector power industry entities has been a contributory factor to the power crisis.

(That is why we must show the National Democratic Congress/New Patriotic Party duopoly the red card in the 2016 presidential and parliamentary elections. Voting for a Paa Kwesi Nduom-Samiah Yaabah Nkrumah ticket is what will rescue Ghana from the doldrums in 2016. But I digress.)

How many Ghanaians report those who steal electricity, for example, I ask? Only heaven knows how many megawatts of lost electricity and revenues that that illegal activity amounts to. We must have a national conversation about this.

Perhaps you could start a media campaign to get Ghanaians to report individuals and companies that steal electricity around the country? Ditto mount a media campaign for energy conservation in homes and sundry buildings that house private businesses and public organisations countrywide?

Finally, not too long ago, it was reported that a Ghanaian living in the US, Sigismund Segbefia, had duped a South Korean steel manufacturer, Dosko  Limited, which was apparently looking to diversify its business, by branching out into the entertainment industry, of US$375,000 - by leading them to think that he could arrange for the US rapper Pharrel, to stage a concert in South Korea.

We must find a way for our nation  to apologise to Dosko Limited's CEO, Mr. Sungdae Cho, and his son David Cho, for Sigismund Segbefia's abominable and unspeakable behaviour - and at the same time seize the opportunity to develop a mutually beneficial relationship between Ghanaian musicians and Dosko Limited.

Why do you not approach the minister of tourism and the creative arts - and suggest that she  asks the South Korean ambassador to Ghana to invite Dosko's executives to Ghana, to meet with Ghanaian musicians:  with a view to collaborating with them to stage concerts in South Korea?

They could wow South Korea's younger generation with their hiplife  dance music - and make azonto popular in that country too.

That would create a new revenue stream for some Ghanaian musicians, would it not  - and help improve our country's balance of payments position? Ditto if Ghanaian filmmakers collaborated with their Diasporan counterparts in the UK, US and  EU? The UK's Abbeam Productions comes readily to mind.

Millions of ordinary people in Ghana are one with you in your #DumsorMustStop campaign. You must take it to another level after the vigil - by campaigning for an end to the theft of electricity: and for Ghanaians to learn to conserve electricity, above all.

Do ignore those shallow-minded and sychophantic types that heap abuse on you for deciding to get off the fence, and pressurise the government into fixing the dumsor destroying businesses and lives in Ghana.

Ghanaians thank all of you for your courageous stand. Peace and blessings to all of you. You are genuine patriots (as far as one can tell, that is).

Good luck with the vigil. #DumsorMustStop!

Yours in the service of Mother Ghana,


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