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Ghana’s Govt to Take Over Thermal Plant

The Ghanaian government has decided to take over the country’s only thermal plant at a time that the country faces serious energy problems. This follows what the government said was credible information suggesting that CMS Energy, a Michigan-based company that holds shares in the plant, completed the sale of its interest in the plant worth over nine hundred million dollars to another company, without informing the government. Sources say President John Kufuor was upset with the way CMS Energy handled the sale of its shares and has chided the chief executive officer of the company.

Kwaku Kwarteng is the government’s spokesman on finance and economic planning. From the capital Accra, he told VOA that the government’s move was to safeguard the country’s interest.

“It is a government decision that has been precipitated by the manner in which our partner in the joint venture, that is CMS Energy, has sought to dispose of its interest in the joint project and transferred it to a company we are hearing is called TAQA. And we are worried that such a development has threatened our interest in the joint project. And we are seeking to acquire the entire shares of the project in order to protect our own interest,” he said.

Kwarteng denied the government is playing politics with the move in order to take over the thermal plant.

“We have not timed anything. We have been in partnership with CMS energy and then a month ago, we had hints from the media that they (CMS Energy) were having discussions with some company on some take over discussions…we did express our disappointment with the manner in which they have conducted this take over discussions without informing us and in complete disregard for our interest,” Kwarteng pointed out.

He said the government informed CMS Energy of its intention to take over the thermal plant.

“We did hint at a point that we intended to take over the entire Aboadze Plant. And that we were happy to enter into pricing discussions with them,” he said.

Kwarteng said the government is ready for any legal challenges that might be associated with the take over.

“We are looking at all that (legal troubles). I mean there is more to this thing than legalities. Don’t forget there is a background to this project. It was not just a contract between the VRA (Volta River Authority) and CMS Energy. It actually started with discussions between Michigan State and Ghana. And then CMS Energy was nominated for the purpose to partner VRA in its energy delivery. You cannot just wake up and say we didn’t have to inform you and that we’ve transferred our interest to another company. And therefore, you are compelled to partner that company,” Kwarteng said.

He insisted the government’s move was in the interest of the country.

“Ultimately, the idea is to protect our interest in the Aboadze plant. You would be naturally worried if you were going to partner with a company you do not know. It’s been forced on you by your previous partner. We are saying this is not right. So it is in the interest of the country that we in the circumstances take the entire hundred percent shares, and then subsequently, we will sit down and see where the way forward ought to be,” Kwarteng said.