Ghana’s power transmission gains strengthJanuary 10, 2022
Kwame Agyeman-Budu, managing director of the Electricity Company of Ghana (ECG), talks to The Energy Year about how the company is working to improve and expand Ghana’s electricity transmission while supporting local businesses. State-owned utility ECG is responsible for the distribution of electricity in eight political regions in the southern part of Ghana.
How would you assess the Ghanaian power sector’s capability to continue on its transformational route?
In 2017, Ghana was plunged into a debilitating power crisis. This was before the swearing-in of this new government, which marked a transitional period in our quest to build a stronger energy sector. The government started off by igniting several interventions directed at strengthening the generation, transmission and distribution systems, which have been very stable because of investments and clear policy directions.
ECG is of strategic importance because it is in charge of improving the sub-transmission and distribution. The One District, One Factory (1D1F) agenda of the government means that we should make power available to sites where these initiatives will be in a cost-effective and reliable manner to support the growth of the businesses that will spring up in these areas.
Can you give us an overview of ECG’s recent activities and main projects?
For the first time in the history of ECG, the government of Ghana has cleared all its debts and has made our balance sheet stronger to enable us access financial credit where appropriate to enhance our business. In 2020, the government supported us with over USD 100 million for the replacement of obsolete equipment and introduction of artificial intelligence including drones for vegetation control.
One of the projects we developed was the VIT Feeder Automation Scheme, which reduces outages by automatically identifying and sectionalising specific problem areas on our networks in a co-ordinated manner for prompt and automatic rectification, without having to cut off power supply to wide areas.
We also applied a SCADA system which enables us to remotely monitor and operate our bulk supply points (BSPs) and primary substations on a screen to promptly correct anomalies, without human interventions or having to drive over to rectify faults, which usually prolong outage duration. Another key project is the express 33-kV feeder between Kpando and Hohoe. The completion of this project will bring improved reliability to power supply to the Oti and Volta regions.
What sort of systems have you put in place to minimise power theft in the country?
The Meter Management System (MMS) which integrates all our smart meters onto a common platform for easy monitoring. The platform will make it easy for us to locate faulty meters, monitor the consumption patterns of customers, help customers purchase electricity anywhere in Ghana and most importantly identify customers engaged in power theft.
This will help to reduce our commercial losses and enhance our efficiency because previously our men had to physically visit the meters on the field to check their integrity. It will improve efficiency in the energy sector and overall customer satisfaction. We are of the expectation that by 2024, all meters brought in by our vendors will be MMS compliant.
What is ECG’s role in achieving the president’s target of 100% electricity access?
Currently, electricity accessibility in Ghana is around 85%, and second to South Africa in sub-Saharan Africa. This target means that we service all the customers within the southern sector of Ghana who will get onboard, and we should be ready to serve these customers, after the government is done with the extension of power to these unserved communities by building more district offices and customer service centres.
This will give us the opportunity to increase our sales by selling the excess power to improve our financial fortunes, because the more we sell, the more we generate revenue to improve our efficiency.
What are the latest trends in local content development in Ghana’s power sector?
Local content development is a policy of the government which states that substantial portions of all the materials we need must come from a local source. Hence, most of our cables, meters, poles and other supply needs are sourced locally. We have Ghana Electrometer (GEM), Kabelmetal, Reroy cables and other local manufacturers we do business with.
We have not lost sight of the need to grow our own economy through supporting local businesses and the transfer of knowledge. We help these manufacturers to adjust their specifications to suit international standards and improve on quality. We collaborate with them for a common good.
What are ECG’s objectives for the post-pandemic environment?
The company has a strategic vision to be financially sustainable and customer focused by 2024, which is built on three thematic areas, namely Revenue Growth, Operational Excellence and Customer Value, abbreviated as ROC. To be financially sustainable, there is the need to grow revenue and improve our cashflow.
The enhancement of prosecution processes, procurement of smart prepayment meters, billing of all customers on time and provision of convenience for payment through these new avenues and enhanced technology are expected to improve revenue collection. For operational excellence, we have developed the Geographic Information System (GIS), which provides easy access to geographic locations of customers for debt recovery activities and efficient improvement in service connection management, among other benefits.
With customer value, we focus on satisfying our valued customers by improving customer satisfaction, expanding customer connectivity, enhancing the quality, reliability and safe supply of electricity, and introducing new products and services to the customer. New customer value initiatives will include consultancy, premium services, fibre networking, an electric vehicle charging initiative, photovoltaic (solar) and other products which will be introduced in our business operations.