THE desire of President John Mahama to increase the country’s electric energy capacity to 5,000 megawatts by the end of 2016, to ensure reliable supply of power to consumers in Ghana and beyond, has received a major boost, with the announcement by Mr. Jay Ireland, Global President and Chief Executive Officer of General Electric (GE), that his company plans to build a 1,000 megawatt power generating plant in Ghana to support the government’s efforts at increasing the nation’s generating capacity.
Whilst breaking the grounds for the expansion of the Aboadze Thermal Plant in Takoradi on Monday, President Mahama announced the determination of his government to produce 5,000 megawatts of energy, which would exceed domestic need, and create room for Ghana to export power to the neighbouring countries.
He noted that while 133 megawatts from the Takoradi Three Thermal Plants had already been released into the national pool, an additional 133 megawatts would also be released in the next three weeks from the Bui hydro dam.
The President, who previously announced that he could not sleep due to the power problem the country was facing, hoped the measures being put in place by his government would help to solve the energy crisis once and for all.
The plans by GE, which has now joined the list of companies wanting to build thermal plants in the country, come on the heels of recent agreements in other West African countries like Nigeria, whose government has signed agreements on power generation, transport and healthcare.
GE plans to ultimately generate at least 1.5GW on new power generation in the next five years across West and Central Africa. Already, the MacBaron Group has indicated its intention to build a 2,000 megawatts plant in the Ketu area of the Volta Region, and are currently working with the chiefs for the release of land.
Mr. Ireland said this during a short visit to Ghana, as his first stop, on his West Africa tour on April 4, 2013.
In a statement released in Accra, he said there was huge potential in Ghana’s power sector, and this, among other reasons, was what had stirred the company’s interest in making investments in the country.
During the tour, Mr. Ireland also paid a courtesy call on President John Dramani Mahama at the Flagstaff House in Accra. Mr. Ireland led a team of top management officers from General Electric to visit the Minister of Energy and Petroleum, Mr. Emmanuel Kofi Armah Buah, to discuss GE’s infrastructure investment plans for Ghana, and share the scope of the company’s involvement in a number of current and planned projects.
Mr. Ireland said: ‘We, at GE, are excited about the opportunities existing in Ghana’s power sector, and we have plans to become a part of this growing industry.’ He said beyond the proposition of GE entering into the Ghanaian market, the company also had the capacity to bring in other investors, in a bid to lead public private partnership (PPP) in the energy sector.
Mr. Ireland said his company was already liaising with some institutions to develop programmes for implementation, and also working with some private partners for project development.
Mr. Emmanuel Kofi Armah Buah, on his part, said: ‘It is a great development to know that General Electric is reaching out and making these efforts, as these plans are also in line with the government’s vision of achieving 5,000MW of power by the end of 2016.’
He said Ghana was creating the necessary structures and enabling environment to attract investors to ensure that the country had a constant supply of power for economic growth.
He said having been part of Ghana’s infrastructural growth for some time now, it was only prudent for GE to fully venture into power production, adding that the right environment awaited them.
Meanwhile, President John Dramani Mahama has extended Ghana’s heartfelt condolences to the United Kingdom (UK) and bereaved family of the late Baroness Margaret Thatcher, former British Prime Minister.
A statement signed by Mr. Mahama Ayariga, Minister of Information and Media Relations, and copied to the Ghana News Agency in Accra on Thursday, said the country joins the international community to mourn the former British Prime Minister.
‘Ghana considers [the] late Thatcher as one of the greatest British Prime Ministers of the 20 th Century. The UK has lost a remarkable and iconic leader, whose steely courage and singleness of purpose will always be remembered. Her strong belief in individual liberties, and the market reforms she introduced, resulted in a more dynamic and robust British economy,’ the statement stated.
It said, notwithstanding the economic challenges of the 1980s, the government of Ghana recalls with appreciation the continuity of British support during Lady Thatcher’s premiership.
The former British Prime Minister died on Monday April 8 at the age of 87.