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By Oxford Business Group

Alternative energy earmarked for growing role in meeting rising demand

Ghana,XX May 2012: Massive infrastructure upgrades under way in Ghana's energy sector will help the country meet rising domestic demand, while ensuring it is well placed to supply power across West Africa when a planned regional grid is introduced, according to the Volta River Authority and the Ghana Grid Company Limited.

The Chief Executive of the Volta River Authority (VRA) Kweku Andoh Awotwi said industrial expansion was already driving up energy consumption, with plans to further develop Ghana's oil and gas sectors expected to produce greater demand for power.

He added that the Bui Dam, which is nearing completion, was set to play a key part in boosting capacity, while other projects being developed would help meet long-term needs. “The Bui Dam is a peaking dam, so won't be able to produce 400 megawatts continuously,” he said. “There is a huge demand for energy that needs to be met. We are expecting projects already underway to produce about a thousand megawatts over the next few years.”

The Chief Executive of the electricity transmission company GRIDCo, Charles A. Darku, agreed that with the current system running close to capacity, upgrading infrastructure across the sector was a must. The firm is currently looking to tap investment for a series of projects worth around $1bn which are being rolled out over the next five years. Its $30m Kintampo Substation will link up with the Bui Dam project once completed later this year.

Mr. Darku also mentioned that the government-backed Shelf Help Electrification Programme (SHEP) which is proceeding steadily requires improvement in the transmission of infrastructure across Ghana. “A major component of making this successful is to get the high voltage network much deeper into the country to reduce both the length of distribution lines and losses across the network,” he said.

Awotwi and Darku were talking to the global publishing, research and consultancy firm Oxford Business Group (OBG) as part of the compilation of research for The Report: Ghana 2012.

OBG's forthcoming guide on the country's economic activity and investment opportunities will include a detailed, sector-by-sector guide for foreign investors, together with a wide range of interviews with the most prominent political, economic and business leaders. It will also put Ghana's extensive plans to upgrade its power supply in the spotlight. Both the VRA, which is tasked with generating Ghana's electricity by developing the hydro potential of the Volta River, and GRIDCo are currently in the midst of major infrastructure upgrades.

Darku believes the country can deepen its lead role in West Africa's plans to connect Ghana, the Ivory Coast, Togo, Benin(already connected together) to Nigeria on the same electricity grid in a few years time. “Ghana can play a really important part in the region's future electricity market,” he said. “There is a big push for Ghanaian local knowledge and local content on the new transmission and generation projects.”

Awotwi added that the setting up of a West African Power Pool connecting countries through high voltage lines would also be of key interest to investors, providing them with opportunities to extend the reach of their business across the region. “In four to five years time, businesses will be able to move power around neighbouring countries,” he said. “For investors, that's interesting. They can build power plants with a larger capacity and consider the whole region as their market.”

He was also upbeat about the prospects for growth in Ghana's alternative energy segment, highlighting a phased, ten-megawatt solar programme earmarked for construction in the North. “We have also awarded our first, 100 megawatt wind project to two European companies,” he said.

The Report: Ghana 2012 will mark the culmination of more than six months of on-the-ground research by a team of analysts from the Group. It will provide information on opportunities for foreign direct investment into the country's economy and will act as a guide to the many facets of the country including its macroeconomics, infrastructure, banking and sectoral developments. The Report: Ghana 2012 will be available in print form or online.

By: akoaso,Hamburg-Germa

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