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27.10.2005 General News

Govt. steps up Bui Dam Project

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Accra, Oct. 28, GNA - Government has stepped up efforts to make the Bui Dam project a reality with the signing of a 500 million-dollar agreement with SINO HYDRO, a Chinese company, that specializes in developing small dams for rural communities.

Professor Mike Ocquaye, Minister of Energy, on behalf of the Ghana Government, signed the Memorandum of Understanding in China during the Minister's recent visit to China and India to consolidate earlier energy agreements for rural communities and hold bilateral talks with his counterparts.

In an interview with the Ghana News Agency, Prof Ocquaye described the visit as most useful and beneficial for the two countries. Other items discussed included the West African Gas Pipeline and the West African Power Pool arrangement.

He said it was government's aim to increase Ghana's energy generation, which was currently hinged on the Akosombo and Kpong dams that between them provided 70 per cent of output.

"We have to ensure that we can provide the extra 30 per cent from thermal and other renewable sources such as wind and solar to make the return of VALCO, for instance, more profitable in terms of providing reliable and cheaper sources of power."

Ghana has 22 sites suitable for the building of small hydro dams for rural communities to reduce the stress on the national grid. He said his delegation included the Directors of Power and Petroleum from the Ministry, an official of the Bui Dam Secretariat and the Director of Engineering from the Electricity of Company of Ghana.

Prof. Ocquaye explained that the delegation was able to initiate discussion on getting the Chinese government to provide a concessionary loan within the 500 million dollars MOU.

"The move falls within the ambit of an earlier agreement signed between the Chinese President and President John Kufuor." He said the delegation also had talks with the EXIM Bank of China for the release of the 500 million dollars.

Prof. Ocquaye said the MOU had a lifespan of one year during which if Ghana agreed to the terms, a final agreement would be signed. He indicated that the Government had earmarked two million dollars and had so far released 150,000 dollars for the environmental impact assessment on the Bui Dam.

The Minister said Dr Maxwell Appiagyei Gyamfi, Director of Petroleum, met with China Oil to explore the possibility of oil exploration in Ghana.

"We are likely to sign an agreement soon on this," he said. In India, Prof. Ocquaye said Ghana was included in Team Nine, a special cooperation group, which had been made up of eight francophone countries and India.

"In this group of cooperation, Ghana managed to raise the highest amount of 60 million dollars from the Indian government." He said 30 million dollars was to be used for rural electrification while the remaining 30 million would be used for the building of a Presidential Complex at the Flagstaff House in Accra. "We are awaiting Parliament and Cabinet to approve the agreement for the building of the Complex. A leading Indian contractor is to construct the complex, drawings of which are already available." Prof. Ocquaye said arrangements were that about 70 per cent of the building would be ready for the celebration of the 50th Independence Anniversary.

He noted that India had so far provided 102 million dollars soft loans to Ghana for Tata buses, tractors and equipment for the Ghana Police Service.