Bridge energy deficit gap in sub-saharan Africa —Veep

Vice President   Amissah Arthur(inset),addressing the delegates at the conference.Photo; Mercy AmparbengVice President Paa Kwesi Amissah-Arthur yesterday implored power producers to bridge the energy deficit gap in sub Saharan Africa by adopting comprehensive approach to generate more power from new sources.

He said such approach should be broad but feasible enough to explore power from thermal, hydro and renewable energies to meet the demands of consumers at affordable tariff rates.

“We must avoid using haphazard and piecemeal approach to resolve the energy crisis on the continent,” he stressed, while urging producers to recognise the expectations of consumers and be more responsive to them.

Vice President Amissah-Arthur made these comments in Accra yesterday when he addressed participants at the 2016 Annual Meeting of the Association of Power Utilities (APUA).

The three-day high level conference, held on the theme “Energy development through customer management revenue collection and energy efficiency”, brought together power producers, experts in the energy sector, and technocrats to discuss means of enhancing production of power in Sub-Saharan Africa.

It was jointly organiSed by the Volta River Authority (VRA),Ghana Grid Company (GRIDCo), the Electricity Company of Ghana (ECG) and the Northern Electricity Distribution Company (NEDCo) to coincide with the golden jubilee of the APUA.

The association, which is also known in French as ASEA (Association des Sociétésd’Electricitéd’Afrique) was founded on December 4, 2012 during the Extraordinary General Assembly Meeting held in Algiers (Algeria) by the African power utilities members of UPDEA.

UPDEA is the Union of Producers, Transporters and Distributors of Electric Power in Africa created in May 1970 with its headquarters in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire.

According to Vice President Amissah-Arthur, in spite of the strides made over the past few decades in the energy sector, energy development in Africa had not kept pace with increasing demand.

He noted that power consumption on the continent had gone up by three times the rate of capacity in the last decade, attributing it to population growth and the increase access to electricity.

“This challenge has created an energy gap, whose implication affects not just economic growth but also progress in social sector such as education, health and tourism,” he added.

Vice President Amissah Arthur therefore, prescribed five solutions for addressing the issue which included the devising comprehensive approach to develop energy sources, provide affordable tariffs to consumers and engage customers in an open and constructive dialogue on energy matters.

He emphasised on the importance of setting considerable tariff while strategising to enhance revenue collection saying “in many African countries there are large segment of the population that could not afford to pay economic tariff. Their circumstances have to be factored into the tariff regime.”

“If we do not take critical look at this development, power will be a service available for the wealthy and not the poor or rural residents thereby restraining the development of our societies,” he said.

Vice President Amissah Arthur further urged power producers to ensure that tariffs go hand in hand with appropriate collection mechanisms that would contribute to conservation and efficiency in the use of resources.

Commenting on the achievements of Ghana in the sector, he said, the country had been able to expand access to electricity by 80.5 per cent with a strategic plan to increase to 100 per cent by 2020.

That, he explained, would be accomplished through energy programmes including the National Electrification Scheme (NES), Self-Help Electrification Project (SHEP) and Ghana Energy Development and Access Project (GEDAP).

The Chief Executive of VRA, Mr. Isaac Kirk Koffi, admitted that the continent had been experiencing power challenges in recent times but was optimistic that APUA would adopt feasible methods to bridge the deficit and avert any recurrence.

He was also hopeful that the three-day event would help identify the problems faced by power producing sector and critically find solutions to add value to the industry.

Mr. Koffi, however, commended the association for their efforts to strengthen power and utility supply.

By Charles Amankwa and
Helena Ama Cromwell 

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