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General News of Thursday, 4 April 2013

Source: The Al-Hajj

Ghana: Best electricity access in Africa - VRA

Even though Ghanaians are facing a power crisis, which has resulted in massive load shedding and power disruptions, Ghana’s energy sector runs high as compared to other African countries in the sub-Saharan belt in terms of electricity access and utilisation, says Mr. Kwaku Awotwe, Chief Executive of the Volta River Authority (VRA).

According to him, in spite of the challenges, Ghana's access to electricity remains one of the highest in Sub-Saharan Africa, adding “access to electricity is currently 74 percent. On average, access to electricity in Ghana is about 60 percent. This compares with Nigeria and Kenya's average of 30 percent.”

Speaking in an interview with The Al-Hajj, Mr. Awotwe noted that, despite the country going through some difficulties in the energy sector, which he promised will soon be a thing of the past, “Ghana is by far ahead of its neighbors on the African continent in the areas of electricity access and utilization".

"Believe it or not, on infrastructure, Ghana is twice as good as in most other African countries. So when you compare to a lot of African countries you may or may not be surprised that the 1020 megawatt (MW) investment in the Akosombo dam that was made in Ghana 50 years ago has set the foundation for a much more developed infrastructure which rates Ghana high in relation to other African countries," Mr. Awotwe stated.

He added that within sub-Saharan Africa, Ghana is second to South Africa in terms of access to electricity.

Citing Nigeria as an example, he stated Nigeria's access to electricity is actually lower than Ghana's, and their consumption per person per year is also lower than Ghana's, noting, in terms of consumption of electricity and access to electricity, Ghana is actually a leader in sub-Saharan Africa.

"In Ghana, we complain when we pay 11 pesewas (8 US cents) per unit of electricity. Our northern neighbors pay 25 US cents and in the case of Liberia they pay 45 US cents and they would love to get some of Ghana's power. So if we can get the gas and get the power generated in Ghana and can get transmission lines built across West Africa, that power will not just provide electricity for Ghana but it will provide electricity for the whole sub-region and as far as the transmission line can go," he added.

He added: “That is the fantastic place Ghana finds itself today. Nigeria or Cote d’Ivoire could play a similar role but the fact on the ground is that Ghana is already playing that role. The government recognizes that for Ghana to play that effective role as the electricity hub of the sub-region, some reform in the power sector will be necessary in order to attract private investors.”

As part of measures to boost power supply in the country, the VRA boss hinted of plans to establish a wind farm that will add between 50 to 80 megawatts of electricity to the national grid. Mr. Awotwe added that, a 10MW solar plant is currently under construction at Kaleo and Lawra.

“Africa has huge energy potential but very few African countries are really using wind energy. The three countries that are using wind energy the most are Egypt, Morocco and Tunisia, but even these countries have been slow to push for more investments in wind energy sector. Currently, Ghana has also built a 2 megawatts solar farm at Navrongo,” Mr. Awotwe stated.

The United States had the second largest installed capacity of wind power, after Germany until 2008, when it surpassed Germany with a wind energy capacity of 21000 MW.

A wind farm is a group of wind turbines in the same location used for production of electric power. A wind farm may be located offshore to take advantage of strong winds blowing over the surface of an ocean or lake.

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