Kofi Yamoah, MD, GSE
Kofi Yamoah, Managing Director of the Ghana Stock Exchange (GSE), has commended government for planning to list the country’s power companies – Volta River Authority (VRA), Ghana Grid Company (GRIDCo) and Electricity Company of Ghana (ECG) – on the Accra Bourse to raise the needed revenue locally to finance their operations.
Speaking to BUSINESS GUIDE in an interview yesterday in Accra after a presentation by afb Ghana at the ‘Facts Behind The Figures’ session, Mr Yamoah said: “I was very much excited and glad that it came from the highest person of the land. And I want his ministers to take a cue from it so that going forward we will begin to sound as we said and then implement it.”
The Minority in Parliament kicked against government’s plan to list the power companies on the GSE after President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo made the announcement in his maiden State of the Nation Address on Tuesday.
They also said if these companies are privatized, power tariffs would escalate.
But the GSE MD explained: “If they become profitable and they get listed, it’s also an opportunity for pension funds which we all contribute as workers so that these pension funds can invest in very profitable companies and ensure the security of pensioners going forward. So I see it also in that context that yes we must put profitable companies on this market, make it available for pension funds probably to invest in it and ensure the security of pensioners.”
Mr Yamoah added that: “It is also a way of making the market develop generally.”
Brain nerves of the economy
There was also an argument that the power sector formed the brain centers of the economy and therefore privatizing these companies would be a dicey one.
But Mr Yamoah averred: “As far as I am concerned, the brain for the economy in terms of GDP includes the likes of the cocoa, mining and financial services, particularly banks and insurance companies. The cocoa sector is liberalized. We have more than 20 licensed buying companies, and so if a brain sector like cocoa is liberalized, and you have private sector in it, then it stands no reason why you’re saying that electricity is the brain centre of the economy so it shouldn’t be privatized.”
“We have the financial services also as brain centres. There are 32 banks and counting, 26 general insurance companies, and these are all privatized and they are operating in this country.
“The mining companies are private companies and they are operating in this country. They afford us one of key revenues in terms of foreign exchange. So if we have all these sectors that are also called brainy for the economy, privatized and operating already, then what is so brainy about power companies that we cannot put them on the market?
“I discount those ideas. For me it’s a way of making these companies much more efficient and consumers will be better off if these companies are much more efficient.”
Touching on this general area, Mr Yamoah disclosed that “as a country we have not addressed that well.”
“Some of us have even advocated the fact in many of these sectors we need to make the companies there public and listed so that the general Ghanaian public can invest. Pension funds that we all contribute can also invest. That way, when dividends are being paid then part of those dividends remain in this country.
“It’s an advocacy that we have talked about but which we don’t find some of our colleagues in other sectors supporting us but it’s something that is very key. If we allow many of these banks, many of these mining companies, telecoms companies to be owned by Ghanaians, then the dividends that are due to those who are resident in this country will be paid in cedis and will remain in this economy.
“It is unfortunate that when we speak about this advocacy of letting certain sectors of the economy be made to list on the stock exchange, we don’t get the support, but I hope that this signal by His Excellency the President may be extended to such areas.”
By Samuel Boadi