A post-Covid shift for Ghana’s gridJuly 9, 2020
Jonathan Amoako-Baah, CEO of Ghana Grid Company (GRIDCo), talks to The Energy Year about how the company has ensured the continuation of its operations and how local suppliers can benefit from the current downturn. GRIDCo is a transmission asset owner and system operator in Ghana’s power sector.
How has GRIDCo ensured the continuation of its operations during the pandemic?
When the pandemic broke out, we activated our Business Continuity Plan to avoid disruptions in our operations and to continuously provide a reliable power supply to customers and clients. In these uncertain times, we don’t want any customers at home without electricity, so we ensure a reliable national grid 24/7. For this reason, staff on critical assignments are still working either from the office or home while those on non-critical assignments have been asked to stay at home wherever appropriate.
The critical staff’s operational shifts have been extended from eight to 12 hours to reduce the number of workdays and mitigate the risk of spread. We transport them to reduce their exposure to the public. Airports are closed, so nobody can leave the country. Employees who returned from abroad during this period were tested and required to stay in quarantine for 14 days.
As we speak (May 2020), 50% of our workforce is at home, and we have ensured that our employees have access to PPE [personal protective equipment], disinfectant supplies and full medical care. We have provided sanitisers, face masks and disposable gloves and have also enforced social distancing in order to keep the workplace safe.
Has there been any disruption in GRIDCo’s existing developments due to the pandemic?
All our development plans are going on as we speak. We are not travelling, but we have the benefit of technology. In May, we had a meeting with the steering committee on our planned collaboration with Siemens to address the country’s energy and infrastructure challenges. Our technical people are working with Siemens in the background to come up with specifications and everything else needed to bring this collaboration to fruition.
Do you foresee a slowdown in new projects going forward?
I think there will be a slowdown. Orders are not going to be met right now, but when the lockdown is lifted, things will get back to normal. I think we will have less new physical infrastructure and we will renew old infrastructure. Meanwhile, developments will shift more towards the use of technology. We realised we can work without our people being present. We will use systems like the smart grid, where you don’t need human intervention to take action.
How can local suppliers benefit from this downturn?
This period is surely an opportunity for local industry players to come up but it will take some time, as they will need to revamp their systems to provide the volume of supplies that is required. At the moment, I don’t think the domestic industry has that level of sophistication, but as time goes on and Covid-19 passes by, local companies will come up with the innovation that is needed to supply operations.
How confident are you about Ghana emerging out of this crisis stronger?
I think Ghana will come out stronger. Most of our power systems are very small, so the impact on these operations is not very huge. What we need to do is work collaboratively to upgrade and extend Ghana’s transmission infrastructure, and revamp whatever we have. I can foresee that we won’t lose many things. Our economy has been very resilient since Covid-19 started and it will continue to be able to cope with the challenges stemming from the crisis. There has been an impact, but business will bounce back to normal. Investors are free to come and invest, and we have a very strong economy.
- From the field