President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo on Friday officially cut the sod for the construction of the Pwalugu multi-purpose dam and irrigation project, in the Upper East Region to begin.
The ceremony then paves way for the Synohydro Power, China, a Chinese construction firm to start work on the project which would cost government nearly $1billion ($993 million) and expected to be completed in 50 months.
The Pwalugu multi-purpose dam is located on the White Volta River on the boundary of the Upper East and North East regions.
Speaking at the sod-cutting ceremony at Pwalugu in the Talensi District, President Akufo-Addo explained the Pwalugu multi-purpose dam and irrigation project was the biggest single investment that any government had ever made in northern part of Ghana and it was expected to promote sustained growth and development.
President Akufo-Addo stated that the project consisted of three main components including a dam with an elevation of 165 metres and maximum reservoir of 350 square kilometres.
It would also comprise a hydroelectric power generation house consisting of two turbines with 60 megawatts of installed capacity and 16.5 megawatts of firm continuous capacity as well as an irrigation scheme consisting of 12 metres high weir and canal networks for about 25, 000 hectares of land.
The President said, “on February 21, 2019, when I delivered the message on the State of the Nation to Parliament, I indicated the government must put in place plans to avert the perennial flooding caused by the spillage of the Bagre Dam which often resulted in loss of lives and destruction of property in the northern sector each year.
“I stated that the construction of a dam in Pwalugu would serve as a receptor to hold large volumes of water spill from the Bagre Dam for irrigation purposes and the generation of electricity and would be the permanent solution to the problem of spillage from the Bagre Dam and today we begin the process of realising this pledge.”
The project is expected to boost the growth of the Ghana’s economy through increased solar energy supply, enhanced agriculture production thereby reducing imports and ensure effective perennial flood control especially from the spillage of the Bagre Dam in Burkina Faso which occur at the White Volta Basin during rainy seasons.
He added, “The 60 megawatts hydropower plant and the 50 megawatts of solar power plant would be the very first hydro-solar hybrid system in the country. With the two technologies complementing each other to provide reliable and stable electricity supply to the national grid.”
President Akufo-Addo noted that the irrigation scheme would be the largest in the country and would attract large-scale commercial farming supported by about 15,000 outgrow farmers, adding that the project has the potential to increase annual rice and maize production in the country up to 117,000 tonnes and 49,000 tonnes by reducing imports of these grains by 16 per cent and 32 per cent respectively.
“Additionally, the Pwalugu reservoir can accommodate up to 125,000 cages of 25 square metres each of fish which would continue to boost the aquaculture and fisheries sector and this project would further boost effort to realising the One District One Factory as it would feed the Pwalugu Tomato processing factory.”
President Akufo-Addo explained that the irrigation component of the project would further boost and strengthen the gains already made in government’s flagship programmes such as One Village One Dam and Planting for Food and Jobs.
He stated that government was committed to employing agriculture, agricultural-based industry and infrastructure as key to transforming the fortunes of the northern part of the country, ensuring all year agricultural activities, creating employment to improve food and nutritional securities and reduce poverty.