Former VRA boss blames power crisis on political interference

BY: Timothy Ngnenbe,
Mr Kwaku Andoh Awotwi

A former Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Volta River Authority (VRA), Mr Kwaku Andoh Awotwi, has blamed the erratic power supply in the country on an over-politicised civil service.

According to him, the Public Utilities Regulatory Commission (PURC) lacked the ability to set realistic and cost-reflective tariffs because of strong political interference.

“The continuous change of personnel at the civil service by government, and the power governments have to appoint people to boards of state agencies and other regulatory bodies weaken the structures and power of state institutions to act independently”, he said.

He was delivering the keynote address at the launch of the Abeeku Brew-Hammond (ABH) Memorial Foundation in Accra on the topic: “20 years of Power Sector Reforms.”

Background

The ABH Memorial Foundation was incorporated in May 2014 as a company limited by guarantee. It was established by the Executive Council of the Kumasi Institute of Technology and Environment (KITE) in consultation with the family of Prof. Abeeku Brew-Hammond to honour him after he died in 2013. The mission is to create space for rigorous action to boost the energy sector.

Politicisation

In what he described as “fallacy of electricity affordability”, Mr Awotwi explained that the interference by politicians in the activities of the PURC made it impossible for the latter to charge realistic tariffs.

“The fallacy of electricity affordability is that political leaders think if they keep the price of electricity low, they will get more votes from the public. But, it turns out to be more costly when there is no power and work is halted”, he said.

Way Forward

He said the way forward was for institutions of state and regulatory bodies, especially the PURC, to be made strong devoid of political interference.

The Executive Chairman of Financial Accountability and Transparency – Africa (FAT- Africa), Mr Joe Winful, said there was the need for checks and balances in the energy sector.

“We have allowed politicians to drain the nation. Power seems to be concentrated too much at the top, creating no room for accountability in the management of crucial sectors of the economy. Once the managers, directors, and CEOs are appointed by the government, they would always act according to the dictates of the government”, he said.

He called on the PURC to come out with a payment plan that would guide and regulate future tariff payments in the country.