Ghana is faced with a slowdown in electricity access. A review of State documents, including the national “Budget Statements and Economic Policies”, the “Electricity Supply Plans”, and the Energy (Supply and Demand) Outlooks for Ghana, confirms the country is struggling to grow electricity access since 2016.

Driven by growth in demographic requirements, increased urbanization with an ever-increasing technological demand, and the aspiration to transform into a middle-income country, Ghana in 1989 devoted itself to a 30-year National Electrification Scheme (NES) to achieve universal access to reliable electricity supply by 2020. But 31 years after the policy was instituted, there still exist a substantial deficit in electricity access in Ghana. Current electrification rate is about 85 percent, a bit far off the target, with no improvement in sight.

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Data from the Energy Commission, and Finance Ministry of Ghana showed that at end 2000 electricity access rate stood at 45 percent, with an annual average growth rate of approximately 2 percent. The decade ending 2010 revealed that the country had achieved an access rate of 67 percent; indicating an annual average growth rate of 2.2 percent from 2000. In the 6 years after 2010, the annual average growth rate as recorded by the Energy Commission was 2.7 percent. The trajectory therefore showed an incremental annual growth in electricity access.

Nevertheless, over the last 3 years the annual access growth rate has seen a substantial decline, from the 2.7 percent recorded before 2017, to a paltry 0.6 percent in the subsequent years. As of end 2019, the country had only obtained a national electricity access rate of 85 percent. Had the country maintained just the annual rate of roughly 2.7 percent, electricity access rate would have been somewhere around 94 percent today – comparable to other countries outside the sub-Saharan African and Asian band.

Under the rural electrification scheme, 1,212 communities were connected to the national grid in 2016 out of the targeted 1,500 communities, increasing the national electricity access rate from 80.5 percent to 83.24 percent.
In 2017, 289 out of a targeted 2,185 communities were connected to the national grid, with other projects said to be at various stages of completion – increasing the national electricity access rate from 83.24 percent in 2016 to 83.62 percent.

In 2018, 1,796 communities was planned to be connected to the national grid. However, just 122 out of a targeted 1,796 communities were connected to the grid, moving the access rate to 84.3 percent at end year. The other projects were also said to be at advanced stages of completion.

In 2019, 1,250 communities were expected to be connected to the national grid. Nevertheless, just 305 communities were connected to the grid, increasing the national electricity access rate from 84.32 percent in 2018 to 84.98 percent at end 2019.

Government has as a result revised its target, seeking to develop new strategies to push the boundaries to achieve the goal of universal access by year 2025, after failing at 2020. To achieve the objective by the new set year, Ghana may be required to grow annual access rate by at least 3 percent, and in tandem with growth in demographic requirements, increased urbanization, and increase in economic growth.

After growing its power generation capacity, and increasing electricity access through grid expansions, it is now time for Ghana to be religious on its policy goal of 100 percent national electrification, using more mini-grids and stand-alone renewable energy systems as catalyst. The deployment of renewable energy to achieve universal electricity access in Ghana is of course vital in the sense that a considerable proportion of the communities awaiting connection to the national electricity grid are currently difficult to access due to the fact that they are lakeside communities, with others planted on islands that require connection by sub-marine cables.

Source: Institute for Energy Security (IES)

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