Gabby Otchere Darko, legal practitioner and cousin of President Akufo Addo has exposed his uncle in the rotten Power Distribution Services (PDS) concession deal with the Electricity Company of Ghana (ECG) which has recently been suspended by government.
Secret Whatsapp chats from the group “Thriller in Manila” set up by Gabby has exposed the orchestration of the agreement which saw PDS takeover from ECG as power distributor for the Southern Electricity Zone in the country was masterminded by president Akufo Addo through selected influential individuals.
The chat group created on August 6, 2018, by Gabby Otchere Darko upon the instruction of the president, was used to marshal out plans with which the government sought to have 51% local ownership of the deal.
The local component of the deal comprised four companies, TG Energy Solutions (18%), Santa Baron Ventures Limited (13%), GTS Engineering Services Limited (10%), and TBK Ghana Limited (10%).
Meanwhile, the remaining 49% shares are for two foreign companies, Manila Electric Company Limited (Meralco), a Filipino company with 30% shares and Aenergia, an Angolan company with 19% shares.
These two foreign companies are believed to be the Technical Lead for the Consortium and by extension PDS.
The names behind “Thriller in Manila”
Of the 12-member group, six names have popped up, being the frontiers for the deal which was brokered between PDS and ECG.
They are; Gabby Otchere Darko (Thriller in Manila administrator) Joseph Babatunde Ampah (Vice president of Corporate Finance, Databank Financial Services), and Edward Akufo-Addo (brother of president Akufo-Addo).
The rest are; Kwame Ofosu Bamfo (owner, Alisa Hotels and Sikkens Ghana), Philip Ayensu (Founder and CEO, X-Men – a grooming, wellness, fashion and entertainment company) and Narinder Surae (senior corporate lawyer, Africa Legal Associates, which has Gabby Otchere Darko as a senior partner).
In one of their chats, Gabby Otchere Darko raised concern over conflicting interest by members in the group, indicating that, “the objection to this is totally surprising and frankly unhelpful.”
Gabby went ahead to question the objection by some members of ‘Thriller in Manila’, asking “ are we working for the Philippinos or to ensure that the real intent behind the president’s push for 51% local ownership is realised?”
On the sharing of the ‘bounty,’ Gabby intimated, “we also need full transparency going forward and to control the drafting of the shareholders’ agreement with Meralco.”
President Akufo-Addo (seated, middle) in a group photograph with some Ghanaians in Angola
President Akufo-Addo’s bite on the PDS deal
But, in his address to members of the Ghanaian community in Angola on Thursday, August 8, 2019, the president explained that his government inherited an arrangement in which the United States Government, through the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC), offered the country half a billion dollars of money for the reform of the energy sector.
This, according to President Akufo-Addo, “was decided to incorporate it largely into the reform of the Electricity Corporation of Ghana.”
“One of the conditions of the money was that we should get a private electricity coordinator to partner with the nation to manage our electricity generation and distribution system,” the stressed.
Speaking to the issue of the suspension of the deal between PDS and ECG, President Akufo-Addo, said the decision was made “for the country to know exactly what is going on, and, therefore, hold the government to account for its stewardship.”
As part of the fundamental concession agreement, PSD was required to put up a guarantee to cover some $400 million, but the president, mentioned that, “It turned out that there are problems with this guarantee.”
He went on to say that, “the protection that we should have in the transaction was not really there. The matter came to our notice, and we decided that the first thing to do was to protect the public assets by suspending the agreement with this private sector operator and returning the assets to the control of the ECG whilst a process of investigation was being carried out.”
The takeover of ECG by PDS
A scheduled takeover which was to have occurred on 1st February 2019 was postponed by the Millennium Development Authority (MIDA) due to certain lapses that needed to be clarified to ascertain a smooth handing over of the company.
Although the challenges were not clearly pointed out, on February 27, 2019, PDS eventually took over from ECG, becoming the first private owners and directors of the company.
The expectation of the new management was to improve access to electricity while cutting down on waste in the system to block all leakages that drain the finances of ECG.
The journey to get a private sector player to manage the affairs of the ECG came into fruition when Ghana signed the Power Compact with the United States of America acting through the MCC, at the sidelines of the US Africa Leaders’ Summit in Washington DC on August 5, 2014.