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Profile of the Volta River Authority

The Volta River Authority (VRA) was established on April 26, 1961 under the Volta River Development Act, Act 46 of the Republic of Ghana, as a body corporate with the mandate to operate mainly as a power generation, transmission and distribution utility. 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. The amendment has a key function of creating the requisite environment to attract independent power producers (IPPs) onto the Ghana energy market.

Through the resultant amendment, the transmission function has been separated into an entity, designated Ghana Grid Company (GRIDCo) while the VRA's distribution agency, the Northern Electricity Department (NED), has been transformed into the Northern Electricity Distribution Company (NEDCo), a stand-alone, wholly-owned, subsidiary of VRA.

Power Activities
The Authority operates a total installed electricity generation capacity of 2,434 MW. This is made up of two hydroelectric plants on the Volta River, with installed capacities of 1,020 MW and 160 MW at the Akosombo and Kpong Generating Stations respectively, and complemented by a 330 MW Combined Cycle Thermal Plant at Aboadze, near Takoradi. A further 330 MW combined cycle Thermal Plant, Takoradi International Company (TICO) is owned as a joint venture with TAQA, from Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates. An additional development of 132 MW (T3) Magellan plant at the same site at Aboadze was commissioned in 2012.

The VRA has also developed a number of plants in Tema. These include a 110 MW Tema Thermal 1 Power Plant, an 80 MW Mines Reserve Plant, both commissioned in 2008. A 50 MW Tema Thermal 2 Power Plant commissioned in 2010; and additional development of a 220 MW Thermal Plant located at Kpone, near Tema. (Click here for more information about VRA's total installed generation capacity)

The Authority is also planning additional development of 100-150 MW of wind power, commenced in 2012 at locations in the southern part of the country where conditions are favourable – and up to 12 MW of solar power generation in the next three years in the northern part of the country, where the resource is abundant – beginning with the construction of the first 2 MW solar plant, commissioned in 2012.

The Authority has begun feasibility studies for the development of 140 MW of hydro dams at Pwalugu and Juale in the Northern Region.

The VRA has a strong commitment to renewable energy development to protect the environment and public health and help reduce emissions that cause climate change, while ensuring a system of diversity and security in electricity supply. A renewable energy development programme is one of the most constructive, cost effective ways to address the challenges of high energy prices, energy security, air pollution, and global climate change. Hydroelectric power is currently the largest producer of renewable energy in Ghana. Hydro generation currently accounts for 60 percent of the total system supply.

The VRA, through the Northern Electricity Distribution Company Ltd. (NEDCo), is the sole distributor of electricity in the Brong-Ahafo, Northern, Upper East, Upper West, and parts of Ashanti and Volta Regions of Ghana. Originally, NED was developed as an integral part of the larger Northern Electrification and System Reinforcement Project (NESRP) to extend the national electricity grid to northern Ghana. The new subsidiary company, NEDCo, has a customer population of over 400,000 and a load demand of about 140MW.

Customers
The VRA's major bulk customer is the Electricity Company of Ghana (ECG). Power sold to ECG caters mainly for domestic, industrial and commercial concerns. Bulk sales are also made to a number of mining companies, including AngloGold Ashanti, Newmont Ghana Gold Ltd., Goldfields Ghana Ltd., Golden Star Resources Group. Others are Aluworks, Akosombo Textile Ltd., and Diamond Cement Ghana Ltd.

International energy sales to neighbouring countries include Togo, Benin and Burkina Faso.


Links to Customers and Neighbouring Countries

The VRA reaches its customers in Ghana and neighbouring countries through the Ghana Grid Company Limited (GRIDCo). GRIDCo's transmission system covers the entire country, and is also connected with the national electricity grids of Cote d'lvoire, 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).

Regional Cooperation
The VRA is participating in the development of a power pooling mechanism to provide the West Africa sub-region increased accessibility, availability and affordability to electricity under the auspices of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS). In this context, GRIDCo has constructed the Ghana component of a new 330kV transmission line, which starts from Aboadze to Tema, and then to Momehagou (Togo) under the West Africa Power Pool Project. The Aboadze to Tema transmission line was commissioned in 2014.

The VRA is the major foundation customer of the West African Gas Pipeline Project (WAGP), which involves the construction of a 20 - inch 600km long natural gas transmission pipeline from Nigeria to Ghana and associated facilities to support the energy requirements of the West Africa sub-region. The objective of the VRA's participation in the WAGP is to obtain natural gas from Nigeria to operate its thermal facilities, and thereby reduce significantly the cost of thermal generation, while increasing electricity availability, accessibility and affordability and protecting the environment. The project has been completed and gas is now being supplied to the VRA thermal facilities. Occasionally, accidental damage to the pipeline disrupts gas supply to thermal facilities and exposes the plants to power generation and financial risks.

Recognizing the VRA's distinctive competencies in power system operations, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), appointed the VRA as the principal consulting agency for the implementation of an Emergency Power Programme (EPP) in Liberia after years of conflict. Consequently, the VRA embarked on a power construction scheme to restore power to Monrovia and other critical institutions.

The VRA is a founding member of the Association of Power Utilities of Africa (APUA). APUA aims to promote the integration and development of the African power sector through active cooperation among its members and also between 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).

Commercialization Initiatives
The Authority has also embarked on a programme to turn its portfolio of non-power operations into progressively self-financing subsidiaries. The aim is to inject greater efficiency into the operations of these important but non-core activities of the VRA while the Authority focuses more effectively on power generation, and thereby enhance its competitive advantage in the West African sub-region.

These operating subsidiaries are the Akosombo Hotels Limited, and the Volta Lake Transport Company, and Kpong Farms Limited. The Schools; the Health Services; and the Real Estate department, have all been incorporated as limited liability companies. The VRA continues to demonstrate its social responsiveness through various programmes designed to enhance the socio-economic and physical environment of the lakeside and downstream communities.

Corporate Social Responsibility
This social investment includes annual commitment of the cedi equivalent of US$500,000.00 to a Resettlement Trust Fund to support development initiatives in 52 resettlement towns. The fund is used to support projects for environmental improvement, social welfare, public health, education, electricity, potable water supply and sanitation. In addition, VRA has introduced a new Community Development Programme (CDP). The CDP sets out a framework for guiding the process of support for the development of all communities impacted by the operations of the Authority. The CDP also seeks to improve the previous Community Development Initiative (CDI) Framework Document. It aims at promoting the empowerment of the communities to take action for development.

The VRA's hospitals in Accra, Akosombo and Aboadze, equipped with excellent facilities have now been converted into limited liability companies. However, the VRA continues to provide free specialist and general medical care to communities along the Volta Lake accessible only by boat, through its medical boat christened MV ONIPA NUA.

Malaria has become endemic with economic consequences. To make a total effort to increase the effectiveness of malaria control and prevention, the VRA has enlisted the support of other institutions. As an alternative to the VRA medical boat services, the Authority has in a joint effort signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Asuogyaman District Health Management Team (DHMT) to provide services to communities along the Volta Lake to fight malaria, Bilharzia and other water-borne diseases. The VRA with the assistance of The Johns Hopkins University Center for Communication Programs Voices for a Malaria-free Future Project has developed a Strategy Document for malaria control. This document sets out the framework for action by the VRA in creating a Malaria-free environment for its workforce, workers' families and their surrounding communities.

The Authority 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. VRA also runs afforestation programmes aimed at reducing siltation of the Volta Lake through the restoration of permanent vegetative cover on the slopes bordering the Lake.

The VRA runs first and second cycle schools for children of staff and others living in Akosombo, Akuse and Aboadze. It also administers Local Authority functions in the Akosombo Township.

Relations with Statutory Regulatory Bodies
The relevant regulatory environment of the energy sub sector consists of the Ministry of Energy and Petroleum, and Ministry of Power, Energy Commission, and the Public Utilities and Regulatory Commission (PURC).

  • Ministry of Power – Supervisory Ministry responsible for formulating, monitoring, and evaluating policies, programmes and projects for the energy sector.
  • Public Utilities Regulatory Commission (PURC) – An independent regulatory commission with oversight responsibility for tariff and rate setting, and provision of the highest quality of electricity to consumers.
  • Energy Commission - Provides advice to the Government of Ghana on energy planning and policy, conducts indicative planning/least cost expansion planning of wholesale supply of electricity, regulates licenses, establishes and monitors standards of performance as well as industry rules of practice for electric utilities.

Ghana occupies a unique place on the energy map of the West African Region.  Recent finds of natural gas offshore have positioned Ghana to supply inexpensive gas fired power to its neighbours on a large scale. 

We invite strategic investors to partner the VRA to take advantage of these opportunities.