On April 26, 1961, the Volta River Authority (VRA) was established with the mandate to generate, transmit and distribute electricity under the Volta River Development Act, Act 46 of the Republic of Ghana. In 2005, following the promulgation of a major amendment to the VRA Act in the context of the Ghana Government Power Sector Reforms, 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.
Following the amendment, the transmission function has been hived off into an entity, designated Ghana Grid Company (GRIDCo) while VRA's distribution agency, the Northern Electricity Department (NED), established in April 1987, has been transformed into the Northern Electricity Distribution Company (NEDCo), a stand-alone, wholly-owned, subsidiary of VRA
The Authority solely operates a total installed electricity generation capacity of 2,600MW, from the Akosombo and Kpong Generation Stations both located on the Volta River with 1,020MW and 160MW respectively; with a complement of 2.5MW Solar PV Plant located at Navrongo.
The VRA also owns a number of thermal plants located in Aboadze near Takoradi, and within the Tema enclave, with a capacity of 1,292MW. These thermal facilities operate on a combined cycle and include, the 330MW Takoradi Thermal 1 (T1) Power Plant, 340MW Takoradi Thermal 2 (T2) Power Plant, which is a Joint Venture (JV) between VRA and TAQA from Abu Dhabi, a 110MW Tema Thermal 1 Power Plant (TT1PP) a 80MW Mines Reserve Plant (MRP), 49.5MW Tema Thermal 2 Power Plant (TT2PP), 38MW Tema Thermal 2 Plant Expansion (TT2PP-X), and a 220MW Kpone Thermal Power Plant (KTPP) and a 250MW Ameri Power Plant.
Power Expansion Activities
As part of the Authority's expansion programme, VRA is exploring the possibility of repowering the 132MW T3 Plant and also converting the existing 220MW Kpone Thermal Power Plant (KTPP) into a combined cycle power plant. The VRA also has plans of replacing the 80MW Mines Reserve Power Plant (MRP) with a new combined cycle technology. Additionally, the development of the 186MW T4 Plant at Aboadze is also being explored.
Other collaborations include the VRA and Beijing Fusing Xiaocheng Electronic Technology Stock Company Ltd for the VRA/BXC Project and the production of 700MW Coal Power Project with Shenzhen Energy.
There is the conversion of the Tema, TT1PP/TCTPP single cycle plants into combined cycle as a Joint Venture with CENIT Energy Limited (CEL) a subsidiary of the Social Securityy and National Insurance Trust (SSNIT).
To diversify the Authority's generation portfolio and assist to achieve the Government of Ghana Renewable Energy (RE) policy, VRA formulated a Renewable Energy Policy to develop and operate RE plants (10% of renewable energy sources) in an efficient, cost effective and environmentally sustainable manner in its generation range.
Accordingly, the first phase of the Renewable Energy Development Programme (REDP) instituted for 2011 to 2015, had a target of developing 14.5MW of Solar PV and 150MW of Wind Energy.
The programme for the second phase set for 2016 to 2020 planned for about 100MW of Solar and 200MW of Wind Energy.
Despite the challenges, the Authority is working with two wind developers, Vestas and El Sewedy, to develop 150MW of wind power at 4 identified sites in the southern part of the country based on wind resource potential; namely, Anloga, Anyanui, Lekpogunu and Akplabanya.
VRA also aims at expanding its 2.5MW Solar PV Plant at Navrongo in the Upper East Region of Ghana to 7.5MW coupled with a proposed construction of a 20MW Solar PV plant at Bongo both in the Upper East Region of Ghana. The Authority in collaboration with the Government of Ghana, is also working with KfW to finance the construction of an additional 12MW Solar PV plants in Kaleo and Lawra in the Upper West Region of Ghana.
In addition, feasibility studies for a 48MW Pwalugu Multipurpose hydro Dam project is progressing steadily. Preliminary feasibility and ESIA by Mott MacDonald Limited / Eviron Engineering Management Consult indicates very high cost, lower rate of returns and significant environmental and social impacts. VRA and the funding agency, Agence Francaise de Development (AFD) have decided to undertake additional studies aimed at mitigating the adverse impact as well as reducing the overall cost of the project. The two entities are in the process of finalizing the agreements for the additional study.
The VRA is committed to renewable energy development to protect the environment and public health, and help reduce emissions that cause global climate change, while ensuring a system of diversity and security in electricity supply.
Links to Customers and Neighbouring Countries
The VRA reaches its customers in Ghana and neighbouring countries through the GRIDCo's transmission system, which covers the entire country and links with the national electricity grids of Cote d'Ivoire, Compagnie Ivoirienne d'Electricité (CIE), Togo, Communauté Electrique du Benin (CEB), and Burkina Faso (SONABEL). These interconnections now serve as part of the arrangement under the West Africa Power Pool (WAPP).
The VRA's major bulk customers are the Electricity Company of Ghana (ECG) and Northern Electricity Distribution Company Limited (NEDCo). Power sold to ECG and NEDCo caters mainly for domestic, industrial and commerical concerns in the southern and northern sectors of the country, respectively. 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.
Others are Aluworks, Akosombo Textile Limited, Diamond Cement Ghana Limited, Adansi Gold Ghana Limited, Drillworx Limited, Perseus Mining Ghana Limited, New Century Mines and Prestea Sankofa Gold Mine Limited, Great Consolidated Diamond Limited, Enclave Power Company, Ghana Free Zones Board, International Land Development Co. Limited (ILDC), Kpong Farms Limited, Owere Mines Limited, and Prestea Gold Resources Limited / Township. The rest are TV3 Network Services Limited, 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 sub-region with increased accessibility, availability and affordability to electricity under the auspices of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS). The 330kV transmission line constructed by GRIDCo from Aboadze to Tema under the West Africa Power Pool Project (WAPP) saw the construction of a 20-inch diameter 600km long natural gas transmission pipeline from Nigeria to Ghana and associated facilities to support the energy requirements of the West Africa sub-region.
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 for 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 electricity serve institutional customers such as hospitals, schools, police stations, and social and community facilities and for street lighting along the main route of the Grid.
The VRA is a founding member of the Association of Power Utilities of Africa (APUA), previously known as UPDEA.
APUA aims to promote the integration and development of the Africa power sector through active cooperation among its members on one hand and all international power sector organizations and donors on the other hand. 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, VRA has working relations with the following statutory bodies: the Ministry of Energy (MoE), which plays a supervisory role, the Public Utilities Regulatory Commission (PURC) and the Energy Commission (EC) as regulators.
Non Power Activities
VRA also administers Local Authority functions in Akosombo Township in accordance with Executive Instrument (EI) 42, 1989, the VRA administers and exercises Local Authority functions in Akosombo Township. It also manages and provides property, facility management, property development and security services to the Akosombo Township and the VRA community (Township) at Akuse.
The Authority continues to manage its first and second cycle schools located at Aboadze, Akosombo and Akuse as well as provide for the health needs of staff, their dependents and local communities within its operational areas; Akosombo, Aboadze, Akuse and Accra.
VRA has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Asuogyaman District Health Management Team (DHMT) to provide services to communities along the Volta Lake in the fight against Malaria, Bilharzia and other water-borne diseases. In addition, the VRA with the assistance of the John Hopkins University Center for Communication has developed a Strategy document for malaria control. The document sets out the framework for action by VRA to create a malaria-free environment for its workforce, their families and the surrounding communities.
VRA also maintains a dredging programme at the estuary of the Volta River at Ada to reduce the incidence of Bilharzia, and to restore the ecosystem in the area. Furthermore, VRA runs afforestation programmes aimed at reducing siltation of the Volta Lake through the restoration of permanent vegetative cover on the slopes bordering the Lake.
Corporate Social Responsibility
In 1995, the VRA, in collaboration with the Ghana Government, represented by the then Ministry of Mines and Energy, established a special fund known as the VRA Resettlement Trust Fund. The mission of the Fund was to contribute to the improvement of the quality of life in the 52-resettlement townships. The fund was mandated to carry out socio-economic projects such as the provision of educational, social, health and sanitation facilities, reliable and potable water supply as well as the economic empowerment of the people through income generating activities and any other projects and needs that are 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 expected to alleviate poverty and improve employability of the people living in the 52-resettlement townships.
In addition to this fund, VRA devotes extra resources to a CSR programme, which has been at the heart of its business in most communities that are impacted by its operations. The Authority has made no secret its main motivation for its very prominent CSR focus, which is to help the society, while creating and enhancing business value, and improving and raising the living standards of people in the impacted communities.
As part of the VRA's CSR strategy, it established a Community Relations Unit in 2003 to improve its relationship with communities affected by its operations and not catered for under the Resettlement Trust Fund. In consonance with its values and principles, VRA also becaome a signatory to the United Nations on 26th July, 2000. The Compact sought to promote responsible corporate citizenship so that business could become part of the solution to the challenges of globalization, and help to realize a more sustainable and inclusive global economy (United Nations Global Compact 2011).
Community Development Initiatives
In 2012, the VRA launched a CSR programme called the Community Development Programme in the communities impacted by its operations. It was an initiative that sought to invest in the enhancement of human capital with the support of the communities. The programme also aimed to develop and implement social and economic activities in all communities, and turn them into notable 'opportunity communities'.
Under the Community Development Programme (CDP), there is a Scholarship Scheme for Senior High School and tertiary beneficiaries of the impacted communities.
The VRA further affirms that, its Community Development Initiative (CDI) represents the common grounds for cooperation and partnership agreed between VRA and the communities, and VRa is committing resources to critical areas of support identified together with the communities to help build capacity and stimulate economic development.
Over the past 20 years, the VRA has undertaken various CSR activities including the following:
- sponsored national priority programmes on health, water resources, education, capacity building, culture, governance and rural electrification.
- commissioned the University of Ghana to conduct research into the maximization of the benefits and mitigation of the problems of the Volta Basin; and collaborating with a number of agencies to implement appropriate socio-economic programmes to enhance the quality of life of the communities in the Lower Volta Basin.
The VRA has earned an excellent reputation and respect through its diverse CSR intitatives and activities, and has made no secret of its main motivation for this very prominent CSR focus, which is to help the society, while creating and enhancing business value, and increasing power generation through diversity to support the development of the Ghanaian economy.