The Export of Electricity from Ghana

Ghana’s electricity situation has improved so much in the recent years that the country is now exporting electricity to its neighbours. Electricity fluctuations and long hours without power are now things of the past. With its gas resources from Jubilee Field and hydroelectric turbines, the country has managed to overcome, to a certain extent, the shortage of electricity it was facing in the 1990s and early 2000s. However, there is still lot to be done.

Ghana Electricity Needs and Electricity Export

The Volta River Authority has six 127 megawatt turbines, which are the main source of electricity in the country. The power plant located at Akosombo is responsible for supplying major bulk of the electricity used in the country, with 60 percent of the electricity produced is bought by Valco for running its smelter. However, this power plant also exports electricity to the neighbouring countries of Benin and Togo.

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The remaining electricity needs of the country are met by the Electricity Corporation of Ghana, which uses diesel to manufacture electricity, as well as a smaller hydroelectric plant at Kpong and mining companies. The Bui Dam located on the Black Volta River is the one that has helped Ghana overcome the deficit. The electricity produced here is also exported to Cote d’Ivoire and Burkina Faso.

The Past

The road to self-sufficiency was not easy, as the country found it difficult to get investment for the 450-megawatt hydroelectric plant at the Bui Dam. However, the World Bank funded a programme under the aegis of the International Development Association and this helped Ghana provide reliable electricity to urban areas as well as the southern parts of the country. Furthermore, in 1989, the national grid was extended to the northern region and this helped the northern part of the country get electricity from Aksombo Dam.

The thermal power plant located close to Takoradi also helped the national grid increase its output by supplying 300 megawatts. With the help of the National Nuclear Research Institute, a nuclear reactor near Accra was also set up to meet electricity shortages in the country.

The Future

Plans are afoot to link the power transmission system in Ghana to all the countries in West Africa, with the aim of having a power pool. This will help all the countries in this region to consolidate their power-generating resources.

The West African nations signed the West African Power Pool (WAPP) agreement in October 2000. The agreement was to develop facilities for energy production in each nation and then interconnect their respective national grid to boost the supply of power.

Furthermore, the government of Ghana has also attracted investments in the energy sector and has managed to garner nearly $4 billion to help increase electricity generation in the country with the help of private companies. This will further help the country meet its rising demand, which is growing at a CAGR of 8 percent. The government is hoping that by 2015, it will become a major exporter of electricity to West Africa, as the country shifts to gas-based power generation in its thermal plants.

Armed with new power sector reforms, Ghana hopes generation, transmission and distribution of electricity around the country and also to the neighbouring countries. Earlier, low electricity tariffs deterred private companies from entering the country’s electricity supply market. But with liberalisation of the market, it is now attracting investments that will help to increase capacity expansion, and streamline management and distribution of electricity. The country hopes to increase its current 2,000 megawatts generation capacity to 5,000 megawatts by 2015.

The Ramifications

While Ghana is exporting electricity to neighbouring countries, like Nigeria and Benin, most of its rural areas still live in darkness. This is primarily because of limited funding, poverty and the cost of renewable energy. So, while urban communities are seeing improvement in the supply of electricity, the poor have not had an improvement in their quality of life.
 

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