“Ghanaians are undergoing power crisis, but Benin and Togo are in darkness. We are desperate and are pleading with the government to supply both countries with more power,” the Minister of Energy of Benin, Mr Barthelemy D. Kassa, pleaded.
During an interaction with his Ghanaian counterpart, Mr Emmanuel Kofi-Armah Buah, Mr Kassa said, “We know you are in difficulty, but we are more desperate. We are in darkness.”
Mr Kassa, who was the leader of a four-member delegation which held discussions with Mr Buah on Friday evening, acknowledged the fact that Ghana was undergoing energy crisis but noted, “The situation in Benin and Togo is worse.”
Ghana has reduced the contractual supply of power to Benin and Togo from 90 MW to 35 MW after the destruction of a pipeline belonging to the West Africa Gas Pipeline Project (WAGP) in August 2012.
The cut in power supply to the two countries has resulted in massive load shedding and power disruption in Togo and Benin between eight and 12 hours or more daily.
Mr Kassa looked worried, apprehensive and expectant when he pleaded with the minister to compromise and increase the power supply slightly upwards, but Mr Buah was firm and said Ghana could only help when the situation in the country normalised.
Mr Buah’s response created more distress for Mr Kassa and his team, who shoved diplomacy aside and displayed open worry.
Other members of the Beninois delegation were Benin’s Ambassador to Ghana, Mr Assounan Nouhouoi; the Director General of CEB — the power generating company for Togo/Benin — Mr Salifou Djibril, and the Director General of the Electricity Company of Benin, Mr Marius Z. Hounkpatin.
According to Mr Kassa, power rationing in Togo and Benin had caused serious distress to individuals and businesses in those countries, but Mr Buah remained resolute and maintained his position.
Throwing more light on the issue to the Daily Graphic, Mr Djibril, who spoke English, said the situation was so bad that most companies were making losses, adding, “Parliamentary and local elections will be held in both countries and our people are saying, ‘no power, no vote’.”
Mr Buah explained that Ghana had experienced a shortfall in energy supply of about 250 MW as a result of the disruptions in the gas supply by the West Africa Gas Pipeline (WAGP).
He said individuals and businesses in Ghana were currently going through similar distress as a result of the load-shedding programme, but Mr Kassa interjected and stated, “We are desperate and in deeper stress than Ghana.”
Mr Buah said the recent visit by President Mahama to the Takoradi T3 Thermal Plant, the WAGP and the Bui Dam was a clear indication of the government’s resolve to improve the power situation by the end of April.
Explaining the position of Ghana on the issue, he assured his Beninois counterpart that Ghana would restore its full contractual supply to Benin and Togo as soon as gas from WAGP was restored.
To show Ghana’s commitment to assist its neighbours, a communique was signed between the delegation and the Ministry of Energy at the end of the meeting.
As part of the agreement, 15 MW of power out of 132 MW will be supplied to the two countries when the Takoradi T3 Plant goes into commercial operation in the next two weeks.
An additional 15 MW of power will be supplied from the Bui Hydro Plant when it goes into commercial operation with its first unit in May.
“The full contractual quantity of 90 MW continuous will be supplied when the West African Gas Pipeline is back in service,” the communique signed by the two ministers stated.
The delegation expressed concern over the transmission service charge and the meeting agreed that a technical committee comprising officers from the two sides would meet to discuss the details and come up with the necessary recommendations.
Ghana’s team included the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Volta River Authority (VRA), Mr Kweku Awotwi; the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of GRIDCo; Mr C. A. Darku, and the Deputy Director of Power at the Ministry of Energy, Mr Solomon Adjetey.
Other members of the Ghana group were the Manager of GRIDCo’s System Control, Mr Frank Otchere; the Director of Systems Operations, Mr Bernard Modey, and a manager at VRA, Mr Ebow Aquah.
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