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General News of Tuesday, 10 January 2006

Source: GNA

Energy Ministry explains cause of power outages

Accra, Jan. 10, GNA - The Ministry of Energy has attributed the recent power outages to obsolete equipment being operated by the Volta River Authority (VRA) and the Electricity Company of Ghana (ECG). The power outages on Saturday 7 and Sunday 8 of January were sparked of from a major failure on the Cape Coast - Mallam line, which had a rippling effect by tripping off other sections of the network that affected the Thermal Plant at Takoradi; Accra, Cape Coast, Tema, Kumasi and its environs.

The Sector Minister, Professor Mike Ocquaye told journalists in Accra on Monday that power had since been restored to all parts of the country and that even though the cause of the disturbances have been identified in the initial investigations carried out by the VRA, "the problem underlies the fundamental issues affecting the power sector in Ghana."

The issues border on the need for adequate power generation in the country, the need for rehabilitation and improvement in the transmission and distribution sectors and the need for improvement in the operational efficiency of the power sector.

Prof Ocquaye said to address the issues, the Ministry was in the process of concluding arrangements with the International Finance Corporation (IFC) and other donor partners for an expansion project aimed to add 110 megawatts steam component to existing power supply. The arrangements would enable the Government to access 220 million dollars to further increase the energy capacity beyond the current 1,500 megawatts.

The present energy demands in Ghana is below 1,300 megawatts but adequate measures were being put in place to improve the power supply and distribution systems for both commercial and domestic use. Prof Ocquaye noted that the Government was also implementing a number of policy initiatives to ensure reliable and sufficient energy capacity and sustainable power supply.

The Ministry has begun the implementation of a power reform programme, which is aimed at creating the required environment for private participation in the generation of power so as to reduce the burden on Government.

This is expected to liberalise Ghana's energy sector and by the middle of this year, independent bodies or organisations would have the opportunity to enter the energy market to produce power for sale. The reform would also improve the operational efficiency as well as the technical, commercial and customer service operations of the Electricity Company of Ghana (ECG), the main distributor of electricity.

Meanwhile, a tendering process is ongoing to build the 330 KV Aboadze-Tema transmission lines at a cost of 60 million dollars to improve the security of power supply to the Accra-Tema area. Another ongoing project at the cost of 30 million dollars for the Kumasi-Sunyani 161 KV transmission line would be completed in 2007.