The Republic of Ghana has achieved about 85 percent electricity coverage, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Ghana’s power transmission company, GRIDCo, Ing. Jonathan Amoako-Baah has said.
Although the 85 percent coverage is below the actual target, he argued it is commendable.
Mr Amoako-Baah who is also the Chairman of the African Council of Power and Energy Society (PES) made this known at the opening ceremony of the 2019 AFRICON hosted by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), the world’s largest professional association dedicated to advancing engineering and technology for the benefit of humanity at the Ghana Institute of Management and Public Administration (GIMPA).
The Ghana section of IEEE is hosting this year’s 3-day conference on the theme: Powering Africa’s Sustainable Energy for All Agenda: The Role of ICT and Engineering.
He said: “In 1989 Ghana instituted a National Electrification Scheme (NES) with the aim of providing universal access by 2020. Currently Ghana’s electrification rate is about 85%, and although a bit far off the target, it is still commendable considering that we were way below the fiftieth percentile before the scheme began. The scheme has brought electricity to most citizenry and improved their socio-economic status.
“There is a close linkage between the realisation of a Wholesale Electricity Market in Ghana and rural electrification. This is because if Rural Electrification is well addressed governments will feel more comfortable approving the roll – out of the Wholesale Electricity Market.
“I believe that to make the Rural Electrification Scheme strong it has to be set – up into an agency to provide and operate in areas classified as vulnerable and rural. Rural electrification should be addressed separately, by providing sustainable electricity solutions that is subsidised for rural folks.
“The exploitation of this endeavour has other secondary benefits such as curbing rural-urban migration, enhancing supply security, providing local solutions and providing job opportunities.”
He added: “When I started my practice in 1985 the largest companies in the world were energy-based such as Exxon Mobil, General Electronic, Royal Dutch Shell, British Petroleum and Gazprom. However, in today’s world the top five (5) companies are Microsoft, Apple, Amazon, Google and Facebook which are all ICT-based. What does this tell us?
“This is not to say that the need for electricity has reduced or is diminishing, but rather more investment is going into ICT to help holistically address the challenges the world faces today.
“These include energy, food, water and shelter. You will find that in most of our workplaces ICT is increasingly being inculcated into our routine activities. Now let me ask, who in this room doesn’t use a computer in their daily work? or better still let me ask how many of you still use windows 98, vista or even windows 7?
“I bet most of you are using windows 10 now. As for the smart phones, tablets and the internet, the connectivity it has brought to the world cannot be over-estimated. We sit comfortably in our offices today and have conference calls across continents with applications like skype, slack and WhatsApp.
“The result is that discussions and solutions that could take days to reach are achieved in an hour. True Wealth as they say is in Innovation.”
Participants from over 16 countries – Finland, Sweden, Senegal, Slovakia Togo, United States, Germany, Ghana, Botswana, Ethiopia, Lesotho, Malaysia, Netherlands, Nigeria, Benin, and South Africa – are attending the conference.
For his part, the Managing Director of the Electricity Company of Ghana (ECG), Mr Samuel Boakye-Appiah, said private investors have an important role to play in the energy sector in Africa and around the world in order to help the government to constantly supply power for domestic and commercial use.
He said: “Over the past 50 years, ECG has provided quality, safe and reliable electricity distribution services to support the economic growth and development of Ghana. Currently, with over 85% electricity access rate in Ghana, ECG and her sister utilities Volta River Authority, GRIDCo and NEDCo can be proud of our collective achievements. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said of the electricity penetration rate in sub-Saharan Africa”.
“According to a recent Africa Energy Outlook report published by International Energy Agency, ‘More than 620 million people live without access to electricity in Africa and those who do have access to modern energy face very high prices for a supply that is both insufficient and unreliable’.
“The same report adds that, ‘Overall, the energy sector of sub-Saharan Africa is not yet able to meet the needs and aspirations of its citizens’.”
Mr Boakye-Appiah added: “Africa is rising, yes, but Africa can only rise higher and faster on the back of sustainable energy as succinctly and eloquently captured by the theme for this conference. For sustainability in the energy sector to be sustainable, it must satisfy the following components; political acceptability, economic development, social equity and environment protection and affordability.
“Ensuring sustainability in the energy value chain requires huge capital investments to drive scientific research and technological innovations. With most African governments confronted with competing demands, infrastructure projects and social intervention programmes, they are constrained. Therefore, the onus of providing the needed capital investments for the development of sustainable energy resources to power Africa’s development is in the hands of the private sector”, he noted.