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Akosombo kanea - reliable electricity and energy at Ghana@50

Posted by abocco on Mon, 03/05/2007 - 22:12 GhanaThink Managing Executive

...Sounds on da ground and seens on the see-ins

I've talked to a lot of Ghanaians back home about the excitement regarding the celebration of Ghana's golden jubilee. A lot of them have complained about the amount of money being spent to celebrate Ghana's golden anniversary of independence when they do not have reliable power (electricity) and constantly have 'lights off'. Ghana has outgrown the Akosombo dam and it cannot produce enough energy for its population. When I heard Obibini Takyi's Akosombo Kanea on radio a week ago, I had found the perfect song for a blog entry about Ghana's energy crisis, a topic I haven't touched yet. What a perfect time to do that in the midst of the Ghana government's promise to give its resident citizens uninterrupted power supply for almost two weeks to commemorate Ghana's 50th anniversary of independence?

The late Obibini Takyi is a very famous highlife musician. His popular songs include Mesi so stamp, Sonson se abrobe, Di yen kan na kyere yen kwan, Alomo Gyata, Soronko, among others. The song Akosombo Nkanea, which means "light from Akosombo", talks about the people who Obibini Takyi loves and those who help him when he is in trouble. It likens his lover to the electricity that comes from the Akosombo dam. He calls people who give him financial and moral support his light from Akosombo, likening them to the services/power the Akosombo dam provides to many Ghanaians. He also talks about how light/electricity from the Akosombo dam enables people to party and enjoy the night. :-)

Many people in Ghana refer to Akosombo kanea as the electricity they use for various things. The Akosombo dam was constructed between 1961 to 1965 under the supervision of Dr. Kwame Nkrumah right after independence to provide hydroelectric power to the country. It ended up creating the largest man-made lake in the world in Lake Volta. It has became a major tourist destination within Ghana and I remember going on an excursion to the dam while I was in secondary school. Even though it has definitely served its purpose well; as the population of Ghana has increased, many more people have lost full access to "Akosombo kanea". The introduction of the Aboadze thermal plant and the Kpong hydroelectric dam have not entirely solved the problem resulting in unreliable power supplies all across the country, even in the major cities of Accra, Kumasi and Takoradi. Ever since Osagyefo Dr. Kwame Nkrumah's initial infrastructural development drive, not much has been done by subsequent governments to keep pace and ensure that the growing population would be served adequately.

The government, reeling from criticism about the $20 million being spent to celebrate Ghana's golden jubilee struck a deal with Nigeria to supply Ghana with more energy (15,000 Megawatts) with Nigeria taking the burden of meeting Togo and Benin's needs (something Ghana had been doing even though it couldn't adequately meet the energy needs of its own people). I suppose that is Ghana's birthday gift - uninterrupted Akosombo Kanea for almost two weeks. Hmm, let's take a look at the timing. We have many guests in Ghana presently joining in the jamborees, bashes and jubilations marking our golden jubilee, so maybe the government realises that for this to be successful, there must be "lights on" 24-7. :-) Did we finally decide to do away with load shedding because we have important visitors? Sounds very much like our culture, doesn't it? We eat the best food and drink the best palm wine only when we are celebrating somebody else.

Obibini Takyi gives us some food for thought when he likens his helpers, mentors and friends to the Akosombo Dam. He calls on Charlie Pee (who has supposedly opened a Ghana bar in Belgium) to help him when he is in need. We've heard this one many times, having our Diasporean Ghanaians sending the remittances home so that we can maintain good standards of living. I always argue that we need more than remittances, we need our professionals to help us solve the inadequacy of the Akosombo kanea and develop new ways to maintain adequate power supply.

Ghana was excited to win independence. There enerally hasn't been much enthusiasm about and hope for the country's future and the patriotism that greeted our nation's birth has waned down, and is saved for the successes of the Black Stars and other national holidays. The level of development the CPP pursued at the beginning of our nation has not been maintained and we find ourselves lamenting how far we've come in these 50 years. We continue to liken our history to Malaysia and South Korea who began their lives with us and are "much more developed" than us. There are more hands on the table sharing the same food, more homes sharing the same Akosombo kanea and more mouths to feed from Charlie Pee's pocket.

We need to improve our energy infrastructure to support the growth of our industries and maintain uninterrupted power supply to enable our homes and businesses to thrive. There are plans to build the Bui dam to help solve the energy crisis and it better produce enough to supplement Akosombo Kanea to fully meet the needs of the present and future generations. We shouldn't depend on only hydroelectric and thermal power, we should explore the possibility of using solar energy for rural electrification and other alternative sources of energy.

I believe 2007 is the beginning of great things for Ghana and we should develop the goodwill, unity, hard work and support to enable our nation develop socially, economically, and physically. Sure, the story could have been better, but as someone said, if we don't have money and we have peace, we want it. In the meantime, let's make full use of "no load-shedding and uniterrupted power supply" to celebrate and jubilate for Ghana is 50 years old. The same people who have lamented the "lights-off" tell me the government has kept its promise and we expect more. We may have all the Akosombo kanea we want, but if we are not able to make use of the facilities, utilities and amenities into making our societies, communities, businesses and industries better, we will have our own selves to blame. Happy 50th anniversary to all Ghanaians and those who feel Ghana runs through their blood.

Full Akosombo Nkanea lyrics
Akosombo Nkanea audio

Related links
Load-shedding exercise to be suspended
Akosombo dam


Comments

Social Hypocrisy

So soon people have forgotten that load shedding from Akosombo dam was in existence long before the current government. And funny how those who did not do anything about it before then saw it fit to use it as propaganda to even go on a demonstration on Ghana's birthday (glad the courts put an injunction on them).

So what seems to be the problem here with the dam? Simple; The population has outgrown the Akosombo dam. These days its not just about TV sets, radios and light bulbs. There are more appliancces in the average home than ever and there is so much the dam can offer in terms of watts. Not forgetting the big issue of global warming and climatic changes which is affecting the globe. It might interest people back home to note that even in Europe water levels in reservoirs are a headache.

This is not the time for Political trickery, biased innuendos, complaints and blames.
The big issue is HOW DO WE SOLVE THE PROBLEM OF NOT HAVING OTHER SOURCES EXCEPT FOR AKOSOMBO DAM? And in this, it is not just down to Presso Kuffour and his administration, it is a national dilemma that needs all aboard irrespective of whatever political affiliations, faiths, tribes or what have you to rally round the current govt and work out a solution.
Solar power, wave energy from the sea, wind and atomic are but a few of the options open to us. Who is going to take the bulls by the horn.

THE CRINGE FACTOR! WHAT MAKES YOU THINK THAT GOD MADE THREE WORLDS AND THAT I COME FROM THE THIRD WORLD. THE ISSUE OF RACE IS GEOGRAPHICAL AND NOT A STATUS SYMBOL AND NEITHER IS MY SKIN BLACK NOR YOURS WHITE.


GhanaThink Managing Executive

The Bui dam is coming!

Load shedding existed but then, it was simply known as lights off. I think it's only recently that we know before-hand that we will have power or not.
So these days, people are organizing their activities around the load shedding. Hence, if Adenta housing would have light Friday evening and not Saturday, then you know to mark your calendars accordingly.
The population has definitely outgrown the Akosombo dam, hence the need for extra energy sources. It seems plans are far advanced to build another dam at Bui in the Brong-Ahafo region.

I know there's an ongoing discussion about sources other than hydro-electric power but what are the implications of the Bui dam? For a start, China is "granting" us money to build a city (or town) for the people who would be displaced. Judging from the way the Akosombo area has turned out, I think this is good news. I hope it becomes more than a town, but a major industrial, social and infrastructural centre for the northern parts of Ghana.

News story here