Items filtered by date: Tuesday, 12 November 2019

Electricity is a hot political issue in Ghana. Ghanaians demand access to the electricity grid as a right of citizenship. And, when not connected, they have threatened in the past to boycott national elections with slogans such as: “No light, no vote!”

In 2016, then President Mahama became known as “Mr Power Cut” because of widespread power cuts that plagued his term in office. He was heavily defeated in elections by Nana Addo Dankwa Akuffo-Addo. The next Ghanaian election in 2020 is a rematch between the two.

Politicians are therefore under a lot of pressure to distribute reliable electric power, but concerns about corruption in the power sector persist. The next Ghanaian election in 2020 is a rematch between the two.

Politicians are therefore under a lot of pressure to distribute reliable electric power, but concerns about corruption in the power sector persist.

In a new research paper we examine a programme to distribute solar panels to meet the needs of people without electricity in Ghana. We wanted to find out whether political patronage played a role in decisions about who got the solar panels and who didn’t.

Our broader question was whether civil servants in a developing democracy can resist political capture in the distribution of public goods.

Resisting the opportunity for corruption

A great deal of research has been done on how political patronage works from the perspective of what drives politicians. But service decisions are often made by bureaucrats. That is why we chose to conduct our research by tracking decisions taken by civil servants.

Interviews revealed that the goal of the solar panel programme was to provide electricity for educational, medical and community purposes in places where future grid extension was unlikely. The programme was funded by a European government donor and implemented by the Ghanaian Ministry of Energy.

The civil servants who carried out the programme knew that political corruption was common in Ghana. For example, studies had shown that vote buying was prevalent and that politicians sometimes used the provision of public goods – even the electricity grid – to gain votes.

We found that because of this, civil servants had taken extra precautions to avoid the programme being “captured” by politicians. For example, they relied on grid access data – rather than member of parliament recommendations – to identify communities that needed electricity. They also visited communities to confirm their need.

Our paper asked whether the programme was successful in getting solar panels to the neediest communities, rather than rewarding communities that usually voted for the political party in power.

We found that the considerable efforts to thwart corruption paid off for national-level civil servants. They were able to resist political capture. But only up to a point. Even their best efforts were thwarted when politics seeped into the process at a local level.

Who got the solar panels?

We analysed whether solar panels were more likely to go to isolated communities with limited road infrastructure or to places with political ties to the government. Since grid expansion usually follows road infrastructure, communities with few roads are unlikely to be connected to the grid in the medium term. These communities therefore have a greater need for alternative sources of electricity, like solar panels.

We tracked the distribution of solar panels using statistical analysis of data on solar panel locations. We also interviewed people who made decisions or were affected by the programme.

The programme partially worked: panels were indeed distributed to isolated communities and those in need of electricity, rather than to incumbent strongholds.

But we also found that panels went to areas where voter turnout had been inconsistent over time – in other words where it was likely that voter turnout could be swayed.

This pattern was evident across the country, but was particularly marked in the area around Lake Volta. Analysis of interview responses and historical documents showed that this variation reflected the logistics of space and the historical politics of place.

This could mean that distribution was also influenced by the desire to mobilise people who sometimes, but do not always, vote, by bringing them electricity access.

Politics at local level

Bureaucratic efforts to avoid political influence did succeed in some ways. The most obvious ways for political capture to influence distribution would be to steer more solar panels to communities with the highest support for the incumbent political party or highest voter turnout. This, however, did not happen.

We found, though, that politics seeped into the decision-making process at a local level.

Because it was hard for bureaucrats in the capital to obtain enough data about where to distribute the solar panels, they consulted local actors in communities to learn more about local need. This may have opened up the process to people who had more explicit political agendas than the national bureaucrats. Panels were subtly steered to places that were both needed and politically useful.

African governments have long dealt with the unfortunate stereotype that they distribute goods solely based on clientelism, nepotism, or corruption. Our study of Ghana’s work to distribute solar panels adds to the growing body of evidence that African governments do respond to need. They can resist political influence. They just may not be able to avoid it completely.The Conversation

 

Justin Scott Schon, Post Doctoral Researcher, University of Florida; Elizabeth Baldwin, Arthur F. Bentley Chair and Professor, Department of Political Science, University of Arizona; Jennifer N. Brass, Associate professor, Indiana University, and Lauren M. MacLean, Arthur F. Bentley Chair and Professor of Political Science

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

Published in Opinion & Analysis

The Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) has generated revenue of about N1.002 trillion from January to September 2019.

The data from the Department of Research and Statistics and confirmed by the NCS’s public relations office indicated that the revenue was generated from 32 commands.

The statistics showed that the service recorded the highest revenue of N123.6 billion in the month of July followed by N118.6 billion realised in May.

The data also revealed that the lowest revenue was recorded in the month of February with N86.3 billion.

The low in February’s revenue might have been caused by 2019 general elections due to partial closure of borders within those periods of polls.

According to the data, Apapa area command has the highest revenue of N313.5 billion within the period under review.

The statistics also indicated that immediately after the partial closure of borders, the service recorded N115.6 billion in September, with about N6.1 billion more than what was realised in August before borders were closed.

The revenue was generated from import duty, levy, excise duty and other fees.

There is every possibility, with this statistics, by the end of 2019, NCS revenue will surpass the earning of 2018, which stood at N1.2 trillion.

NAN reports that 2018 revenue by customs was N164.8 billion more than the 2017 collection, which was N1.037 trillion.

Published in Business

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi thanked US President Donald Trump Monday on social media for his support in the trilateral Nile damn negotiations later this week.

Sisi described Trump as being of "unique standing with the power in dealing with conflicts... and finding crucial solutions for them."

He expressed his gratitude to Trump for "his efforts in sponsoring the tripartite negotiations"

The talks scheduled for Wednesday in Washington will bring Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan to the table to discuss Ethiopias Renaissance Dam, which will be fully operational by 2022.

Discussions between the three countries broke down this year prompting Egypt to call for international mediation last month.

ELECTRICITY

Addis Ababa insists its $4 billion hydro-electric barrage is necessary to provide the country with much-needed electricity.

But Egypt fears the mammoth structure could drastically reduce the flow of the Nile, on which it depends for around 90 percent of its water supply.

A US official said earlier this month that Sisi had asked Trump to get involved in the deadlock when they met in September on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly.

Trump agreed to reach out to Ethiopia and offered the "good offices" of Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin to mediate the dispute, the official said on condition of anonymity.

"I reiterate my full confidence in... finding a consensus that assures the rights of all parties within the framework of international law and humanitarian justice," Sisi added in tweets posted late Monday.

'WAR'

Last month, Ethiopias Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed told parliament, in reference to the dam, that "if we are going to war... we can deploy many millions".

Egypts slammed his strident comments as "unacceptable".

Abiy, who won this years Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts to heal tensions with neighbouring Eritrea, emphasised however that negotiations would be the best way to resolve the issue.

Ethiopia and Sudan have confirmed their attendance at the summit after Egypt quickly accepted the US offer to mediate.

The Nile is a lifeline supplying both water and electricity to the 10 countries it traverses.

Its main tributaries, the White and Blue Niles, converge in the Sudanese capital Khartoum before flowing north through Egypt to drain into the Mediterranean Sea.

Analysts fear the three Nile basin countries could be drawn into a conflict if the escalating spat is not resolved before the dam begins operating.

Published in Bank & Finance
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