GRIDCo was created in 2006 as part of the government’s efforts to further liberalize the power sector by separating transmission activities from the national generator. Thanks to this move, competition in the sector has increased. Moving forward, how do you see the sector?
What we would like to do with this liberalization is pretty much the same as what happened in the telecom sector. We are now at the point where the telecom sector was perhaps 10-15 years ago when it began to be liberalized.
Today, you can pick and choose which telephone service provider you want to deal with and you can pay as you go. I think that we are at the point in the power sector where we can transform it into one where there can be some choice on the generation side in order to foster efficiency and bring the cost down.
I am looking more at the future in that respect and making sure that the reforms that we have started are pursued systematically and appropriately to take us to that point where other industries like telecommunications and broadcasting, which have grown significantly in recent years, are.
‘I think that we are at the point in the power sector where we can transform it into one where there can be some choice on the generation side in order to foster efficiency and bring the cost down’
‘Finance is at the heart of what we are doing and we have been able to line up some financing but could certainly do with some more’
Although Ghana is one of the largest electricity generators in the region, penetration is only between 50% and 60%. Also, new investment is needed to build power lines and substations in order to electrify rural Ghana. How is GRIDCo addressing these issues?
The government wants to increase penetration to 85% so there is work to be done and of course opportunities for investment. What we are doing in GRIDCo is to bring the high voltage network closer to the rural communities so that we can deliver quality power right to their doorsteps. We are also upgrading a number of our substations and transmission lines from 34kV to 161kV so that the quality is as high in the most remote parts of the country as it is in Accra. We recently had a meeting with a consortium of lenders in order to raise the money that we needed to fast-track some of these projects.
What role will GRIDCo play in the West African Power Pool (WAPP), which will eventually link the electricity networks of all ECOWAS members?
We think we can play a central role because Ghana is central to the region. It has one of the best interconnected networks in the region. We have the largest hydropower facility in the region and are already connected to our neighbors Togo and Benin to the east and Côte d’Ivoire to the west. We think we can expedite the work on WAPP by making our expertise and resources available to the sub-region and provide some leadership in the evolution of the regional market. These regional markets will offer the economies of scale that would make for even bigger opportunities for investment in the sub-region.
Are you looking for partners?
Finance is at the heart of what we are doing and we have been able to line up some financing but could certainly do with some more. There are definitely opportunities there for us to work together.
On the expertise side we have a fairly good technical staff but in order to keep up with the reforms and the sector’s evolution abroad there is no doubt that collaboration with overseas utilities companies would be useful to us. We could if you like “piggy-back” off the developments in the North American power sector to drive our system in their direction. It is important that we do that because we are also looking at the regional electricity market. Ghana wants to be in a leadership role and some of what we are starting to work on are things in which we can partner with American utilities as well as banks and companies in order to work together and develop the region
Ultimately, I would like for GRIDCo to be like any of the other big transmission companies in the world. We are driving the institution to meet its performance standards in its core business areas as well as support business activity. I am quite pleased with the support I get from staff and I think that the notion that we can work hard to the point where we are seen as one of the world’s top class utilities is one we must pursue.