Comments: How not to deal with the Ameri Power debacle & Grave matters with Ghana’s Electoral Commission

IMANI President, Franklin Cudjoe analyses key issues that have made recent media headlines in Ghana – from power policy to governance at the electoral commission.  


How not to deal with the Ameri Power debacle

  1. So, as we do with serious matters of state, we have earned yet another set of stripes in the league of extraordinary oddity by using police force passing as investigation into a matter that is purely one of legality, negotiation or even diplomacy.
  2. What exactly were the Police looking for from the house of former power minister, Kwabena Donkor by taking away his electronic gadgets? How the extra $150m on the Ameri deal was arrived at or whether that extra money was shared among some supporters of the deal?
  3. Second oddity is the attempt by a member of parliament, Mr. K.T Hammond to introduce a motion in Parliament to reverse the Ameri deal when it had been passed by the previous parliament. Is Parliament able to sidestep a transaction with legal consequences that easily? Wouldn’t either a court one of the best avenues to settle this matter? Or better still as IMANI has always said, negotiation with Ameri since the legal implications are that we are most likely to lose, as we have always done, with similar international litigations.
  4. Don’t we ever learn that such inordinate methods to dealing with such matters send negative signals to the international investor community that in Ghana, when we have problems with international transactions, all we do is to use police force and the law-making body to reverse these transactions?
  5. IMANI painstakingly dismembered what many in Ghana thought was a complex deal that Ameri was. IMANI proved that even under emergency considerations, Ameri’s eventual pricing of power at 63pKWh was too steep when other power plants with more generating capacity were priced averagely at 39KWh.
  6. Let us face it folks, the Ameri deal was simply incompetently done by former government officials who did not exhaust all the market research and analysis to be guided by the price we should have paid. Frankly, we did not need Ameri at all in the deal had we bought the aeroderivative plants for $350m ($220m planta +$140m installing cost) from the Greek Power company, Metka. Ameri’s involvement as a deal maker, who simply took Ghanaian power officials to Metka cost us an extra $150m. Yes, these things happen, but not at the expense of making super abnormal profits of almost half the original price of products. Were it a normal private enterprise deal, the board of a company that approved such a deal would have faced the wrath of shareholders and heads would have rolled. Unfortunately, this type of deal could only be pulled off for a country whose officials are almost all the time in a hurry to please their political power base and in the process parade insufficient men in technical acumen to negotiate simple deals.
  7. We still maintain that the best way out of the Ameri matter is for the government to sit with Ameri and negotiate a reduction in the abnormal profit of $150m that Ameri made. We are yet to hear that such rapprochement has been made and it was rejected by Ameri.
  8. Meanwhile we are advising the current power ministers to be extremely cautious negotiating further power deals with all players in the Ameri deal, Metka included, until we have resolved this matter.
  9. And from all indications it does seem only the President of the Republic will have the final say in the Ameri matter especially as it was a political crucible used during the elections against his opposite number at the time. I will say to the President that it doesn’t hurt to negotiate with Ameri to save Ghana some money even if your opponents might say, you couldn’t jail anyone as was promised. Mr. President, you would have proved to be a better deal maker and the investor community will have more faith in doing legitimate business with your government. Think about these things.

My take aways from the matters playing out at Ghana’s electoral commission

  1. I am very worried that some aspects of our 2016 elections may have been compromised especially as the Chairperson of the Electoral Commission has stated openly that her deputies engaged in illegal transfer of votes.
  2. The illegal transfer of votes could have been necessitated by the discordant demarcation of electoral maps which emanates from the creation of new districts. These districts, socreated, translate into new electoral constituencies, hence the escalating number of MPs and the unnecessary financial burden of caring for them without proper value addition to the governance and economy of this country. There are indications that many more districts will be created as the ruling government plans to create additional regions. At some point, we need to pause and ask ourselves if creating these many administrative districts with their attendant problems is the answer to dealing with poverty. The matter though is one of generating additional resources not more bureaucracies and wasteful bureaucrats. IMANI and STAR GHANA are working to ensure that this message is well delivered to the powers that be.
  3. Procurement practices in our major public institutions have always been against the established rules. Getting procurement right is the real deal in the fight against grand theft. The one sure way to deal with it is for procurement of all goods by public institutions be made to follow the established rules and published as well, notwithstanding the appointment of a minister in charge of procurement.
  4. Public office in Africa has always been the main avenue to appropriate wealth illegally. The politics is so rotten we can only keep speaking about it and hope against hope as politicians with their obeying bureaucrats in civil service have become like mutants, genetically conjoined in masterminding grand theft. Meanwhile, we should be more worried that we may be losing the fight against grand corruption as funds for our development significantly no longer come from donors, (who largely tried to prevent theft) but now generated from within and commercially borrowed, sometimes from countries that do not care about our governance and economic fortunes. Tick tock tick tock, in Africa $4700 gets stolen in a second, yet an African child dies every second of malnutrition, disease and hunger when he needs only $2 a day to survive these shackles.

In addition to affirming my support for all the calls into thorough investigations of the tragic financial and administrative comedies unfolding at the Electoral Commission, it is important to emphasize the need for our elections on the continent to be based on real needs of our people and not on the whims of our bureaucrats in politics and civil service.