Senior Presidential Advisor, Yaw Osafo-Maafo, has said that for industry to be able to absorb the teeming unemployed youth in the country, it is necessary for firms to have access to reliable power at an affordable cost, as that will make them competitive.
Speaking on day-3 of the Ghana Economic Forum organised by the B&FT on the theme ‘Africa’s energy sector: ensuring the medium to long-term sustainability of the West Africa sub-region’, the former senior minister described the unemployment situation as scary – but with a well-functioning and competitive energy sector, industries should be able to take up more graduates to reduce the unemployment menace.
“The industrialisation drive by government demands that we pay keen attention to the energy sector if we are to confront head-on the scary unemployment canker challenging our development agenda today in this country.”
“Energy is therefore key in creating employment through industrialisation. You cannot industrialise without energy. It’s not just energy, but energy at a competitive price. If you are taking energy at twice the cost in Nigeria and thrice the cost in Liberia, you cannot then produce anything to sell competitively,” he said.
Mr. Osafo-Maafo emphasised that the energy sector is key and critical in the development discussion of any economy; and more importantly, emerging economies like Ghana have to make energy the backbone of development, hence government has stepped up efforts to ensure this happens.
“This made government deepen the discussion on the Energy Sector Recovery Programme (ESRP) with establishment of the Cabinet inter-ministerial task force on energy with a five-year implementation plan and arrangement from 20218 to 2023 in five priority objective areas: namely the security of supply, competitive tariffs, support for low-income consumers, as well as strategic industrial growth and universal access to electricity and energy.
“These multifaceted priority areas have guided government to make significant investment into the entire energy sector, and equally doing so in recent times with the view of ensuring that there is reliable and sustainable power at competitive and affordable prices to drive government’s industrialisation agenda, including the One District, One Factory initiative,” he said.
In collaboration with the World Bank, government created the ESRP which identifies the policies and actions necessary for the sector to recover its financial footing. The five-year plan runs from 2019 to 2023.
Subsequently, a government negotiating team established under the Energy Sector Recovery Task Force started engagements with Independent Power Producers (IPPs) and gas suppliers under a consultation process to secure more favourable and sustainable agreements for both parties.
According to the Finance Ministry, the ESRP has started to pay dividends, with the announcement that it has so far saved the country’s energy sector US$5billion as of December 2020. This came about by relocating Karpowership and securing agreements with CENIT Power and Cenpower Generation Company.