Gov�t Warned Against 25-year ECG Takeover

Energy and Petroleum think tank, the Africa Centre for Energy Policy (ACEP) is making a strong case for government to go for a shorter term renewable contract in its plans to cede the Electricity Company of Ghana (ECG) to a private concessionaire.

Government is currently considering bids for a private company to take over management of the ECG for up to 25 years; pending an approval by parliament.

So far, 62 concessionaires have put forward their bids with only 18 of them being Ghanaian companies.

Speaking at the first Citizens engagement on the ECG concession forum held in the Ashanti regional capital Kumasi, Head of policy unit with ACEP, Dr Ishmael Ackah indicated that though ACEP supports the idea, the country will be placing itself at a disadvantaged position if it goes in for a long term concession to take over management of the ailing power distributor.

He suggests that government rather goes for a contract renewable over shorter contract spans.

“Though we support the concession, we suggest it should be punctuated and with indicators to be reviewed for renewal every five years. Let’s hold them accountable to reduce distribution losses to a percentage; make profit of a certain amount, reduce commercial losses at this rate; fix all prepaid meters; and at the end of the five years, we evaluate to see if Ghana is benefitting. The country will have that freedom to renew the contracts if it is in our interest. If it is not, we can decide to cancel it,” he explained.

Dr Ackah also called for the Public Utilities Regulatory Commission (PURC) to be strengthened to protect the interest of the consumer from the profit driven agenda of a private concessionaire.

He emphasized that, “PURC per law has that mandate and authority to approve tariffs. But if they are not firm, the consumer may suffer if the company wants to increase tariffs every now and then”

Dr Ishmael Ackah also called for more private companies to form consortiums to win the contract for the concession.

He bemoaned the current trend of Ghanaians loosing contracts to foreign companies making allusion to a contract Ghana lost to the Ivory Coast in the supply of bread and water to the oil rakes in the jubilee fields.

He recommended that Ghanaian companies form a consortium and put together their finances and experiences together to win the concession for Ghana.”

He believes such mergers, is the only strategy local companies can adopt to break the streak of foreign companies winning contracts ahead of their local competitors.