ECG not being fully privatised – Robert Jackson

BY: Charles Benoni Okine
Robert Jackson
Robert Jackson

The United States of America (USA) Ambassador to Ghana, Mr Robert Jackson, has once again set the records straight, debunking the assertion that the Electricity Company of Ghana (ECG) will be fully pritavised.

“ECG is not going to be privatised as some are claiming. What is being done is that the company is being released on concession, which means that it is only the management of the company that is going to a private company”, he said.

Speaking to the GRAPHIC BUSINESS in an interview in Accra, he said “the Government of Ghana still owns ECG and therefore, ECG still belongs to the people of Ghana.” “Ghana’s Parliament will soon be considering a concessionaire to operate the ECG that and needs to be in place by September 6 this year under the terms of our bilateral agreement which was signed in 2014”, the Ambassador said.

Mr Jackson said it was already four years since “we signed the compact and providing a private management to ECG will make the company firm”.

“ECG is currently only collecting about 65 per cent of its bills. Moreover, almost 40 per cent of the electricity that is produced in the country never reaches consumers because of the lack of investment in infrastructure”, he said.

He said the investment from the concessionaire would be used to provide electric infrastructure , which among other things are, new solar streetlights, rewiring of the markets in Accra, Kumasi and Tamale. It will help to reduce the losses because there will also be new lines and new substations.

Mr Jackson said collectively, this would lay a foundation for Ghana to industrialise and move beyond the export of crude oil and cocoa which is largely unprocessed. Again if your gold is refined here, it will be essential for this country’s development.

He said the agro industry had a tremendous potential in Ghana “but we cannot build agro industries without having electricity. So I see this as laying the foundation for Ghanaians to have a reliable and affordable electricity for a long period of time and for ECG to become the profitable company that it should be rather than remaining a debt ridden company that has struggled for years for a variety of reasons including it was not able to collect its bills and secondly it not being able to reinvest in infrastructure to provide good service.”  

Jobs and exorbitant pricing

On fears about potential massive jobs losses amidst concerns of the concessionaire charging higher tariffs, Mr Jackson said “President Akuffo Addo has made it very clear that there will be no loss of jobs.”

He has also insisted that the government has agreed with the concessionaire to have Ghanaians own 51 per cent of the concession adding that “It is really important for people to remember that ECG will be owned by the people of Ghana and operated for the people of Ghana”.

He said the setting of tariffs will still have to be approved by the Public Utility Regulatory Commission (PURC). “So I don’t think people need to be worried about loss of jobs, privatisation or increase in tariffs because all of these issues are being addressed or will be addressed. And I am certain that there will be lovely debating in Parliament when it takes a look at this issue. — GB