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The controversial republic on Africa’s west coast called Ghana is one country where a soothsayer’s apprentice will deem himself fit to give a public lecture at the University of Ghana’s Department of philosophy, on the origins of existentialism.

So, unsurprisingly, the chronic and never-yielding national electricity generation and supply crisis has  revealed what an incredibly huge number of energy experts Ghana is generously blessed with.


They have a depthless wealth of knowledge about energy development, complete with all the technical details, except why the crisis has been galloping so fiercely since the mid-1990s and how to fix it even in the immediate term, employing emergency interventions.

It is now apparent that it is going to be a really very long haul right into 2008, Jomo, and the best we consumers can do is to dig down and wait out the crisis.

We need to conduct a study on the impact of the national electricity generation and supply crisis Every day hundreds of thousands of PCs with dead screens sit atop office tables, advanced technological tools for information processing, rapid communication and fast transaction of business, which have suddenly been rendered useless by the energy crisis.

I was at the in Accra the other day to make some official enquiries. In some departments which had been cut off from power supply, civil servants were grilling slowly like tilapia in the suffocating confines of small offices, morosely fanning themselves with old file covers and sheets of A-4 paper.

In one office, a despondent lady behind a PC waved a delicate hand at the disabled machine and explained apologetically to several people that she was unable to access data and process information they had come to take delivery of, because power had been cut off.

Paying people for no work done and leaving urgent work undone for days means the cost of our power crisis is far higher than we recognise or are willing to admit.

Last week, I went early to the office to complete work on a time-bound research project and found to my horror that power was off: What do I do? I sit and wait for power to be restored. I wait and wait and wait. A couple of hours pass. Nothing happens. I stare at the disabled PC sitting on my desk and can almost sense the hard drive staring back at me from behind the blank, carbon dark screen. I stare at the ceiling instead.

That too gets boring. I pace up and down like a caged tiger, muttering uncomplimentary adjectives about the producers and distributors of electricity in Ghana.

A fat lot of good that does but I am an optimistic one day, the power crisis will go away. It has to! Most annoyingly, that is the way it has always been with our mighty continent and global progress: Advancements in knowledge bring about dramatic improvements in the quality of life and the advanced world takes us along. After only two steps forward with the rest of the world, we fall back to the spot before square one, thanks to the jinx stalking our progress.

We cannot access the full benefits of the new information and communication technologies which provide unbelievable opportunities for socio-economic progress without computer technology, but can we power computers with kerosene and shea butter? That cannot be bad question!

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