Ghana’s current generation capacity of 2 125MW is made up of about 50% hydro and 50% thermal plants. However, inadequate and unreliable power supply remains a major constraint to future economic growth.

In response to this constraint, President John Dramani Mahama has issued a declaration to end the continuous inconsistent power supply in the country. Most topical among his declarations is for Ghana to become an energy hub in West Africa. This followed his inspection of the Atuabo Gas project which is expected to generate 550MW of power. This addition in power generation is in line with the vision of the government in positioning Ghana as a net exporter of energy.

The Ministry of Energy has revealed that Ghana’s current electricity demand stands at over 2 000MW and further estimates an annual capacity addition of about 200MW.

Current electricity demand in the country is said to be growing at about 10% per annum and Ghana is estimated to require additional capacity of about 200MW to match the increasing demand in the medium to long term.

Ghana’s total installed capacity is 2884.5MW but electricity supplied does not meet demand. This has resulted in the ongoing power rationing.

Gas holding back installed capacity operating at optimal level

Though the commissioning of the Bui Hydro dam, Ghana’s second largest hydro plant, by President Mahama, was believed to have set the country on its way to becoming a major producer of power in West Africa. The dam is currently producing 90MW of electricity despite its installed capacity of 400MW.

Ghana’s power sector is faced with the problem of inability of installed plants to operate at full capacity. This is due mainly to the limitations in fuel supply owing to rising fuel prices and uncertainty in rainfall and water inflows into the hydroelectric power facilities.

The Atuabo gas project in the western region of the country, which is 99.8% complete, will be a game changer for the struggling Ghanaian economy, but most especially, positioning Ghana to be a net exporter of energy. President Mahama believes that when completed, the Atuabo Gas project will drastically reduce the pressure on Ghana’s foreign exchange reserves.

Ghana as an energy hub in West Africa

Atuabo Gas will produce 107 million standard cubic feet of lean gas, 500 tonnes of LPG, 80 tonnes of pentane and 45 tons of condensates daily.

The energy ministry is also investigating the possibility of building up a refining and petrochemical industry. Emmanuel Armah-Kofi Buah, minister of energy and petroleum explains that, ‘we are building capacity in different sectors. We need assistance to partner with our educational institutions, improve infrastructure and improve the training of more petrochemical engineers and more people to study the oil and gas industry. We need to train more geologists and economists and legal people in the industry. We also need the capacity to strengthen our institutions.’

The information further revealed that the project to extend Ghana and West Africa’s power grid is already underway. Currently 67% of Ghana’s residents have access to electricity with the goal of reaching 100% by 2020 is underway.

Power plants are being planned and built, with one at Sunon Asogli recently completed, fuelled from a gas line connecting Nigeria’s oil fields to the new generating station. Transmission lines need to be built to Ghana’s eastern, western and northern neighbours, including Burkina Faso, Mali and Nigeria, and agreements with many of the countries involved have been signed.

Ghana must focus on successful implementation

Inusah Abdulai Fuseini, minister for lands and natural resources is positive about Ghana becoming an energy hub for West Africa, saying that ‘the prospects of tapping into Ghana’s resource base, in particular as regards the energy sector, are huge. We can become market players in the sector and Western Ghana will become an energy hub by producing power and selling to other landlocked countries.’

The goal is to use the country’s petroleum resources to power the planned electrical grid. The government has made great progress in extracting, selling, processing and using the oil, and is also studying closely how to minimise the environmental impact and make sure the wealth generated is put to use by improving the lives of Ghanaians.

The World Bank also believes Ghana has the right power policies but is failing to implement them and run the sector efficiently. According to the Bank, ‘the solutions to the sector’s problems are well known; the challenge is to carry them out. Proactive leadership of the energy sector, with a focus on efficiency and timely delivery is crucial to Ghana’s ambitions for economic growth.’