VRA to deploy mini grids to connect communities
The Chief Executive Officer of the Volta River Authority (VRA), Mr Emmanuel Antwi-Darkwa, has suggested the use of mini-grids as means of connecting the remaining 15 per cent of Ghanaians living in the island and lakeside communities who do not have access to electricity due to physical and infrastructure challenges.
The 2018 Energy Personality of the Year — male category — of the Ghana Energy Awards told the Daily Graphic that connecting these small communities to the national grid had no economic justification since consumption was likely to be low.
“We have been able to connect all the large population areas; what we haven’t been able to do is to connect small villages which are very far away from the national grid, and so sometimes you spend money connecting them to the grid but the consumption there is low,” he stated.
As of the end of 2018, Ghana’s national electrification access had reached 84.32 per cent, with 93 per cent urban and 71 per cent rural coverage as part of efforts to achieve the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) Seven on global universal access target.
However, there is still some 15 per cent of Ghana’s population yet to access electricity.
This percentage constitutes more than 200 island communities and more than 2,000 lakeside communities.
Mr Antwi-Darkwa said the percentage of people who had access to electricity in Ghana was substantial enough, stressing that “this number is very good and it is almost the highest percentage in sub-Saharan Africa”.
According to a 2019 technical report by the Energy Sector Management Assistance Programme of the World Bank which was launched in Accra on June 25, 2019, “a mini grid is an electric power generation and distribution system that provide electricity to just a few customers in a remote settlement or bring power to hundreds of thousands of customers in a town or a city.”
Mini grids, just like any other power generation system, supply power to households, businesses, public institutions and large agricultural processing facilities.
Mr Antwi-Darkwa further noted that since these communities were very sizeable in number, the best way to connect them was through a mini grid.
Mr Antwi-Darkwa said the government had commenced work on providing mini grids to these communities and added that most of the mini grids being provided were on island communities within the Volta Lake.
He also noted that the government had plans of scaling up to other lakeside communities yet to benefit from the mini grid.
“The Ministry of Energy is spearheading that effort and after they are done the Volta River Authority will handle the operations,” he added.