PRESIDENT John Mahama has asked MEDEF International, a consortium of top French businesses to seriously consider investing in Ghana’s power sector to help bridge the power supply deficit to meet the growing demand.
He particularly suggested joint ventures or partnerships in the proposed power projects with the Ghanaian business community to ensure technology transfer and to give meaning to local content.
President Mahama made the call when he received a delegation from MEDEF International at the Flagstaff House yesterday.
The delegation, which is in the country as a follow-up to President Mahama’s visit to France in May 2013, was led to the Presidency by Mawuena Trebarh, Chief Executive of the Ghana Investment Promotion Council.
Mr. Mahama noted that some members of the delegation was in the business of power supply and therefore, could not have come to the country at a better time.
“The demands of our economy have been growing very fast and therefore, we need to put in more generation to keep up with the growth in demand,” President Mahama said.
Access to electricity in Ghana is 76 per cent and ranked second only to South Africa in the whole of sub-Saharan Africa. But the country is facing a supply gap that has oscillated between 300 and 600Megawatts.
This is as a result of a demand that is growing in excess of 10 per cent per annum, meaning conservatively, that Ghana will have to double its electricity supply capacity every eight years if it is to keep up with demand.
Government has, meanwhile unfurled a five-year plan under which it aims to inject a total of 3,665MW of power into the power transmission grid.
At the inauguration of a 165MVA sub-station at the Tema Free Zones enclave on Tuesday, President Mahama did indicate that he remains resolute to fixing the power conundrum.
“We are making progress in overcoming the power gap and increasingly, power is being fed into the grid and over the last few weeks, at least some 200 Megawatts have been fed into the system.
We will continue to increase power that is being fed into the system until the gap is eliminated completely by the end of the year,” Mr. Mahama was quoted as saying.
He told the French delegation that infrastructure was one of the major areas that they could venture into. The World Bank estimates that Ghana has a funding shortfall in terms of infrastructure investment of $1.5 billion a year, he added.
The President mentioned railways, ports expansion, toll roads, housing and real estate as areas that the country has a huge need for investment.
As a result of the agreement with the IMF, he said innovative ways needed to be found to resolve the deficit in infrastructure since everything could not be put on the public debt because it would result in issues of debt sustainability.
Consequently, he advocated public-private partnerships, build, operate and transfer schemes and other means of innovative financing as a way of meeting the infrastructural need.
President Mahama informed the delegation that plans were underway to build an integrated sub-region where the borders were opened up for goods and services to move freely among sub-regional countries.
Therefore, he said investors should begin to see the sub-region not in terms of the individual countries but in terms of what could be done to assist the project of integrating the economies of the countries.
He mentioned the Lagos-Abidjan highway as one of the integrated projects that sub-regional countries were planning to undertake to cut travelling distance between the five countries that were along that corridor.
President Mahama informed the delegation of plans to expand the Tema port at a cost of $1.5 billion under a pact with the Meridian Port Services and the Accra-Tema Motorway to a six-lane highway.
“It will not only improve business in Ghana but also allow the evacuation of goods to Burkina Faso, Niger and Mali in a much shorter time,” he stated.
The President also mentioned the Lower Volta project between Ghana and Togo to supply water to that country, and a mini-hydro dam project at Juale that would enable Ghana to export power to neigbouring countries.
He called for international partnership with regard to the proposed projects.
Patrick Lucas, Chair of the MEDEF Africa Committee, described Ghana as a country with great potential and stressed the willingness of the French business community to partake in the country’s agenda for transformation.
He described the group as a diversified delegation of top-notch firms and looked forward to partnering with the business community in Ghana in a mutually beneficial manner.
By Samuel Nuamah