The Volta River Authority (VRA) was established on April 26, 1961 with the mandate to generate, transmit and distribute electricity under the Volta River Development Act, Act 46 of the Republic of Ghana.
However, following the promulgation of a major amendment to the Act within the context of the Ghana Government Power Sector Reforms in 2005, the VRA's mandate has now been largely restricted to generation of electricity. This amendment has created an enabling environment to attract Independent Power Producers (IPPs) into the Ghana Energy market.
The amendment also hived-off the VRA's transmission function into a separate entity designated the Ghana Grid Company (GRIDCo), while the distribution agency, the Northern Electricity Department (NED), established in April 1987, also evolved into the Northern Electricity Distribution Company (NEDCo), a wholly-owned standalone subsidiary of the VRA.
The VRA has diversified its power generation portfolio to take advantage of available and sustainable sources of energy mainly hydro and natural gas, liquified petroleum products and renewables. The Authority owns and operates a total installed electricity generation capacity of 2,519MW. The two main hydro plants, Akosombo and Kpong Generating Stations both located on the Volta River have 1,020MW and 160MW respectively. These are complemented by a 2.5MW Solar PV Plant at Navrongo in the Upper East Region and a 6.5MW Solar PV Plant at Lawra in the Upper West Region.
The VRA also owns a number of thermal plants located in Aboadze near Takoradi, and the Tema enclave. The Authority’s thermal facilities include the 330MW Takoradi Thermal (T1) Power Station, a 340MW Takoradi International Company Thermal (T2) Power Plant, which is a joint venture (JV) between VRA and TAQA from Abu Dhabi; a 110MW Tema Thermal 1 Power Plant (TT1PP) now designated Station 2, an 80MW Tema Thermal 2 Power Plant (TT2PP) designated as Station 3, a 220MW Kpone Thermal Power Station (KTPS) and a 250MW Ameri Power Plant for which the Authority provides oversight on behalf of the Government.
Power Expansion Activities
As part of the Authority's expansion programme, VRA is exploring the re-powering of the 132MW T3 Plant at Takoradi and converting the existing 220MW Kpone Thermal Power Plant (KTPP) into a combined cycle power plant.
There is the conversion of the Tema TT1PP/TCTPP simple-cycle plants into a combined cycle as a Joint Venture with CENIT Energy Limited (CEL), a subsidiary of the Social Security and National Insurance Trust (SSNIT).
To diversify the Authority’s generation portfolio and assist in achieving the Government’s Renewable Energy (RE) Policy objective, VRA formulated a Renewable Energy (RE) Policy to develop and operate RE plants in an efficient, cost-effective and environmentally sustainable manner. Accordingly, the first phase of the Renewable Energy Development Programme (REDP) instituted from 2011 to 2015, targeted the development of 14.5MW of solar PV and 150MW of Wind Energy. The programme for the second phase was set for 2016 to 2020 with about 100MW of Solar PV and 200MW of Wind Energy. As at the end of 2020, 9.6MW of Solar PV was in commercial operation and 13.0MW was under construction at Kaleo, also in the Upper West region and expected to be completed by the end of 2021. The Kaleo and Lawra solar projects will be expanded from a total of 19.5MW to 35MW under a similar financing arrangement between the Government of Ghana, KfW Development Bank and the Authority. Works commenced in 2021.
Seeking to increase the Authority’s renewable footprint, a Rooftop Solar Photovoltaic and a Solar Car Park Installation with a capacity of 148kWp has been installed at the Head Office, Electro- Volta House. The installation is estimated to reduce electricity consumption by at least 23% while ensuring that some cost-saving is made on electricity use at the Head-office. Plans are underway to implement similar installations in the various VRA operational locations.
The VRA is currently working to develop about 150MW of Wind Power at identified sites in the southern parts of the country. Feasibility Studies, Environmental and Social Impact Assessment (ESIA) and Grid Impact studies have been concluded for the first 75MW Wind Power project at Anloga, Srogbe and Anyanui in the Volta Region, for the project to kick-off in 2022.
In order to ensure reliable plant operations and grid stability, the Government of Ghana and the Authority commenced processes in April 2021, to relocate the Ameri Power Plant from Aboadze to Kumasi, in the Ashanti Region.
His Excellency President of Ghana, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, cut the sod for the Pwalugu Multipurpose Dam Project in November 2019. The project comprises a 60MW hydroelectric power plant, a 50 MW Solar Plant and a 25,000-hectare irrigation scheme. The power component will improve power supply reliability in the northern part of Ghana. The irrigation scheme, managed by the Ghana Irrigation Development Authority, will increase annual rice and maize production by 117,000 tonnes and 49,000 tonnes, respectively. The dam’s construction will reduce the perennial flooding in the White Volta Basin caused by heavy rainfall in the rainy season and the associated spilling of water from the Bagre Dam in Burkina Faso. VRA has completed preliminary project activities, including the Environmental Impact Assessment and Resettlement Action Plan and the construction of road to the site.
Links with Customers and Neighbouring Countries
The VRA reaches its customers in Ghana and neighbouring countries through the Ghana Grid Company’s (GRIDCo) transmission system, which links up with the national electricity grids of Cote d’Ivoire-Compagnie Ivoirienne d’Électricité (CIE), Togo-Communauté Electrique du Benin (CEB), and Burkina Faso (SONABEL). These interconnections serve as part of the transmission network under the West Africa Power Pool (WAPP).
The VRA’s major bulk customers include the following distribution companies; Electricity Company of Ghana (ECG), Northern Electricity Distribution Company Ltd. (NEDCo) and Enclave Power Company (EPC). Power sold to ECG and NEDCo caters mainly for domestic, industrial and commercial concerns in the southern and northern sectors of the country respectively, while power sold to EPC caters for industrial and commercial concerns in the Tema Free Zone. The Authority also makes bulk sales to a number of mining companies, which include AngloGold Ashanti, Newmont Ghana Gold Limited, Goldfields Ghana Limited and Golden Star Resources Group.
Other customers are Aluworks, Akosombo Textiles Limited, Diamond Cement Ghana Limited, Adansi Gold Ghana Limited, Drillworx Limited, Perseus Mining Ghana Limited, New Century Mines, Prestea Sankofa Gold Mine Limited, Great Consolidated Diamond Limited, Ghana Free Zones Board, International Land Development Co. Limited (ILDC), Kpong Farms Limited, Owere Mines Limited and Prestea Gold Resources Limited. The rest are TV3 Network Services (Media General Ghana Ltd), Volta Aluminium Company Limited, Adamus Resources Limited, Nzema Gold Operations, Savanna Diamond Limited, Newmont Golden Ridge Limited, Asanko Gold Ghana Limited, and BlackIvy Ghana Limited.
The VRA is a Foundation Customer in the development of the West Africa Gas Pipeline (WAGP), which guarantees its competitiveness in power delivery in the sub-region. The Authority is also participating in the development of a power pooling mechanism to provide the West Africa subregion with increased accessibility, availability and affordability to electricity under the auspices of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS). The Authority continues to collaborate with the West African Power Pool (WAPP) to provide the West African Sub-Region with increased accessibility, availability and affordability of electricity.
The West Africa Regional Electricity Market was officially launched by West African Power Pool (WAPP) in 2018, with the first phase becoming operational in the year 2020. The market will facilitate and regularize cross-border electricity trade and thus introduce efficiency in both local and regional markets.
The Authority remains a key player in the affairs of the West African Gas Pipeline Company Limited (WAPCo), a limited liability company that owns and operates the 678km West African Gas Pipeline (WAGP). The VRA through the Takoradi Power Company Limited (TAPCO), a wholly owned subsidiary of VRA, holds shares of 16.3% in WAPCo on behalf of the Government of Ghana.
From the Commercial Operations Date (CoD) of November 1, 2011, WAPCo’s main mandate has been to transport natural gas from Nigeria to customers in Benin, Togo and Ghana in a safe, responsible and reliable manner, at prices competitive with other fuel alternatives. Since June 2019, the WAGP now has the capability of delivering gas from Western Ghana (Takoradi) in a reverse flow mode to the East (Tema) as a result of the completion of the Takoradi Tema Interconnection Project (TTIP).
Under the Emergency Power Programme (EPP) in Liberia after years of conflict, the VRA was appointed the principal consulting agency to implement the two-phase construction and operation of the power system in Liberia. VRA, acknowledged by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) for its distinctive competencies, provided a 2.6MVA electric power to a section of Monrovia through the distribution grids in Congo Town and Kru Town.
The VRA is a founding member of the Association of Power Utilities of Africa (APUA), previously known as Union of Producers, Transporters and Distributors of Electric Power in Africa (UPDEA). APUA aims at promoting, integrating and developing the African power sector through active cooperation among its members on one hand and international power sector organizations and donors on the other. APUA is a permanent member of the Executive Council of the African Energy Commission and a preferred partner of the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD).
Relations with Statutory Regulatory Bodies
In pursuance of the Authority’s operations, the VRA has working relations with the following statutory bodies: The Ministry of Energy, the Ministry of Finance, Ministry of Public Enterprises, which play a supervisory role, the Public Utilities Regulatory Commission (PURC) and the Energy Commission (EC) as commercial and technical regulators respectively and the State Interest and Governance Authority (SIGA), which supports in the area of corporate governance.
Non Power Activities
In accordance with Executive Instrument (EI) 42, 1989, the VRA administers and exercises Local Authority functions in the Akosombo Township. It also manages and provides property, facility management, property development and security services the Akosombo township, the VRA community at Akuse and the Aboadze township. The Authority continues to provide and manage first and second cycle schools in Aboadze, Akosombo and Akuse. In addition, VRA provides health care services for staff, their dependents and local communities within its operational areas in Akosombo, Aboadze, Akuse and Accra.
The VRA also carries out a dredging programme at the estuary of the Volta River at Ada to reduce the incidents of Bilharzia, and restore the ecosystem in the area. To ensure the sustainable management of the Akosombo and Kpong Dams, the Authority maintains an aquatic weed harvesting program, which aims at eliminating or reducing the prevalence of Bilharzia, improving the water quality, transforming the livelihoods of the riparian communities in the Lower Volta area and preserving of the ecosystem.
Climate Change Agenda
In response to the global clarion call for a cohesive approach to confronting the challenges of climate change, the VRA in its Renewable Energy Policy, has developed a Carbon Footprint Management Programme (CFMP), which details planned actions towards pollution prevention, waste reduction and sustainable development. The CFMP has guided the development and introduction of climatesmart interventions in the operations of the Authority.
Interventions such as the Volta Gorge Reforestation Programme, Climate Smart Stove Initiative and Corporate initiatives such as the Corporate Waste Segregation Programme and the use of less carbon-intensive fuels in generation activities have been implemented to reduce Greenhouse Gas emission levels of the Authority.
The Authority, has since 2018, operated all its thermal plants on natural gas leading to significant reduction in carbon emissions. Two major tree-planting programmes, the Volta Gorge Reforestation Programme and the Buffer Zone Reforestation Programme, serving as carbon sinks, cover about 5,300 Ha of land in and around the Volta Gorge Area and other parts of the Lake.
In 2021, as part of Government's "Greening Ghana Project", the Authority collaborated with the Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources to plant 600 tree seedlings across all work locations of the Authority. Internally, the Authority has initiated conscious actions to operate sustainably and reduce waste generation through its "Corporate Solid Waste Segregation Programme". The programme is aimed at separating solid wastes into its components at source to facilitate easy recycling. So far 5.9 tons of Office Wastepaper has been transferred for recycling.
The Authority has also incorporated in its workflow, innovations in ICT to ensure business continuity in a paper-less work environment. This includes the introduction of an Electronic Documents & Records Management System and substantial improvement in ICT infrastructure to meet changing trends in sustainable operations in the Energy Sector.
There has also been a shift from the traditional reliance on firewood as domestic fuel with the introduction of fuel-efficient and energy saving improved cook stoves in 2016, termed as "Climate Smart Stoves" (CSS) in the riparian communities. This initiative, which is a collaborative action with the Fisheries Department in the Asuogyaman District has resulted in the construction of 500 stoves. About 1,000 stoves are expected to be constructed by 2024 in other districts.
Corporate Social Responsibility
The Authority is also committed to ensuring that its operations and activities remain relevant, competitive and agile in the power sector. Key to the implementation of this strategy is the championing of viable solutions that ensure the strengthening of existing partnerships between the Authority and impacted communities within our areas of operation.
In 1995, a combined effort between VRA and the Ghana Government realised the establishment of a special fund known as the VRA Resettlement Trust Fund, aimed at providing socio-economic interventions and economic empowerment solutions to 52-resettlement townships as approved by the Managing Trustees. VRA continues to contribute annually an equivalent of five hundred thousand United States Dollars (US$500,000) to the fund towards poverty alleviation initiatives for the people living in the 52-resettlement townships.
In addition to this fund, VRA has devoted extra resources to its CSR programme intended at improving standards of living through the provision of employability and entrepreneurial skills set to persons within the impacted communities. Thus, the Community Relations Unit was established in 2003 to endear a stable relationship with communities affected by the Authority’s operations and provide solutions to problems that were not catered for under the Resettlement Trust Fund.
Community Development Programme (CDP)
In 2012, VRA launched a CSR programme called the Community Development Programme (CDP) in communities impacted by its operations. The CDP represents a common ground for cooperation and partnership between VRA and the communities on the identification and provision of solutions to critical areas that stimulate economic and human capital development. The programme is also aimed at the development and implementation of social and economic activities in all communities and the transformation of these communities into 'opportunity communities'.
The Authority has provided interventions in the areas of:
- Education: Scholarships and internship opportunities have been provided to needy but brilliant students of impacted communities. A total of 315 students have so far benefited from the scholarship, which was instituted in 2011. The number comprised 220 beneficiaries at the Senior High School (SHS) level prior to the introduction of the Government of Ghana’s Free SHS Policy in 2017 and 95 beneficiaries at the tertiary level as at 2020. The Authority is considering the transfer of the SHS scholarship component to support Technical and Vocational Education Training (TVET) due to the free SHS policy.
- Socio-Economic Empowerment: VRA in its efforts to support Communities affected by its operations in riparian areas, provides training in bee-keeping and fruit tree planting through its Poverty Alleviation Programme. As at 2020, the total number of installed bee hives increased from 124 in 2019 to 134 for about 60 members of Community-Based Organisations in 5 impacted communities.
- Sanitation: VRA has provided over 90 biofil sanitation facilities in Central Tongu, South Tongu, Shama and Manya Krobo Districts. These facilities are part of preventive measures deployed towards disease eradication in communities along the Lower Volta Basin. Construction has also begun towards the provision of about 40 biofil sanitation facilities for the Kade Government Hospital in the Kade District and some communities within the Authority’s operational areas. The Authority in collaboration with the Project Maji Foundation has provided solar-powered mechanized borehole water facilities in five communities. Marginal reductions have been recorded in the bilharzia prevalence rates in endemic communities along the Volta Basin due to the provision of the potable water and sanitation facilities.
- Disease Eradication: The Authority maintains collaborative efforts with the Asuogyaman District Health Management Team in the eradication of malaria, bilharzia and other water-borne diseases. These activities are guided by a Memorandum of Understanding that details plans for the eradication of Malaria with support from the Johns Hopkins University Center for Communication. The Authority also provided fumigation and disinfection services for five (5) communities and all work locations as part of efforts in the eradication of the COVID-19 virus.
- Public Health: The Authority through its Schistosomiasis Control Programme undertakes a Mass Drug Administration Programme frequently in communities along the Basin. Studies by the Ghana Health Service in 2018, showed a reduction in the prevalence levels of Urinary schistosomiasis over the previous year in forty-two (42) communities within six districts namely - South, North and Central Tongu, South Dayi, Ada East and Shai Osudoku districts.
The VRA has earned an excellent reputation through its diverse CSR initiatives and activities, which has at its core the intense motivation to help the society while creating and enhancing business value, and increasing power generation through diversity to support the development of the Ghanaian economy. In 2020, the Authority was adjudged “CSR Company of the Year” at the prestigious Ghana Energy Awards. Ianmatsun Global Services Limited, organizers of the Sustainability and Social Investment Awards, also conferred on the Authority, Best Company in Clean Water Provision Project and Best Company in Project Providing Sanitation Facilities in 2020.