Ghana Energy Situation

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Republic of Ghana
Capital Accra (5° 33′ 0″ N, 0° 15′ 0″ W)
Official Languages(s)


Government Constitutional Presidential Republic
President Dr. John Dramani Mahama
'Total Area '( km²) 238,535
Population 24,233,431 (2010 estimate)
Rural Population (year)
GDP (Nominal) $50 billion (2014 estimate)[1]
GDP Per Capita $1,902.9[2]
Currency Ghana cedi (GH₵) (GHS)
Time Zone GMT (UTC0)
Summer (DST) GMT (UTC0)
Calling Code +233
Electricity Generation TWh/year (year)
Access to Electricity
Wind energy (installed capacity) MW (year)
Solar Energy (installed capacity) MW (year)


Electricity in Ghana is a key determinant of the country’s continued economic growth, but supply has recently struggled to keep up with demand. Sustained demand growth of over 6 percent per year has strained the already overburdened electricity system. A major power crisis in 2006–7 is estimated to have reduced GDP growth by one percent.[1]

The Government of Ghana, with the help of international donors, has sought to strengthen the electricity sector in response to this challenge. The Government has outlined two key objectives for solving existing problems in the sector and allowing it to power sustainable, inclusive economic growth in the future: (i) double installed generation capacity by 2015; and (ii) extend universal access to electricity by 2020.[2]

The sections below provide an overview of the following:

  • State of the electricity sector (2)
  • Institutions that govern the electricity sector (3)
  • Major policies, laws, and regulations that affect the electricity sector (4).

The last section summarizes the efforts of donor agencies to improve outcomes in the electricity sector.

[1] “Energizing Economic Growth: Making the Power and Petroleum Sectors Rise to the Challenge.” World Bank, June 2013 P.1

[2] “National Energy Policy.” Ghanaian Ministry of Energy. February 2010

State of Ghana’s Electricity Sector

The Ghanaian electricity sector is in a period of transition. The Government is attempting to attract more private sector participation in the sector. Independent Power Producers (IPPs) have begun to enter the electricity generation market, previously dominated by the public sector. The state still owns both electricity distribution companies, as well as the electricity transmission company. Key problems in the sector include demand outstripping supply, poor state of transmission and distribution, and tariffs that have not covered costs.

Installed Generation Capacity in Ghana

Ghana’s electricity generation has traditionally been dominated by hydro assets; however, in recent years hydro has been complemented by fossil fuel generation to meet rapidly growing demand. Total installed capacity to date is about 2,703.5MW. 50 percent of installed capacity comes from hydropower installations, with the rest coming from thermal plants burning Natural Gas (NG), Light Crude Oil (LCO), or diesel. The generating units are owned and operated primarily by the Volta River Authority (VRA); however, some IPPs have begun to enter the market.

The table below shows the mix of thermal generation assets and hydro generation assets in GHana. Each thermal generation unit can use NG, which is less expensive than LCO or diesel. However, due to an ongoing interruption in the West African Gas Pipeline (WAGP), all thermal units are currently operating using diesel or LCO (as listed in column ‘Fuel 2’) except for Sunon Asogli. Sunon Asogli can only run on NG.

Table 1: Installed Capacity in Ghana



Phase Out (Year)

Installed Capacity (MW)

Reliable Capacity (MW)

Fuel 1

Fuel 2



















Aboadze T1







Aboadze T2 (TICo)







Tema TT1PP





















Tokaradi 3







Tema Mine Reserve Plant







Sunon Asogli






VRA = Volta River Authority; BPA = Bui River Authority; IPP = Independent Power Producer

The Volta River Authority

The VRA, established in 1961 by the Volta River Development Act (Act 46), is the state-owned electricity utility responsible for generating electricity in Ghana and supplying electricity in bulk to Ghana Grid Company Limited (GridCo). VRA owns and operates the Akosombo hydro power station, the Kpong hydro power station, the Aboadze T1 plant, the Tema TT1PP plant, and the Takoradi Thermal Power Plant (T3) located at Aboadze. VRA is also a minority joint partner with TAQA, which owns and operates the Takoradi International Power Company (TICO) thermal power plant also located at Aboadze. In addition to the plants that VRA owns, VRA also operates the Tema TT2PP plant and Mine Reserves plant for their respective owners.[1]

In recent years, VRA’s role in the Ghanaian power sector has evolved significantly from generation, transmission, and distribution to focus on generation. In 2006, VRA ceded its transmission responsibilities to GridCo. In May 2012, VRA restructured its distribution department, Northern Electricity Distribution (NED), into a semi-independent, wholly owned subsidiary company of VRA, known as Northern Electricity Distribution Company of Ghana (NEDCo). Finally, VRA’s responsibility for all hydro resources within the Volta Basin—which includes the White Volta, Black Volta, and Red Volta rivers—was curtailed by the Bui Power Authority (BPA). BPA, a state-owned enterprise, was created to develop a hydroelectric plant at Bui, which lies within on the Black Volta.[2]

[1] Tractabel Engineering. “Generation Master Plan Study for Ghana.” GridCo., November 2011 2013

[2] “Energizing Economic Growth: Making the Power and Petroleum Sectors Rise to the Challenge.” World Bank, June 2013

Independent Power Producers

Three IPPs have developed conventional generation units in Ghana, and more are planning to do so—including for renewable energy. The three IPPs operating in Ghana are:

  • Takoradi International Company (TICo)—owned by the Abu Dhabi National Energy Company (TAQA)
  • Sunon Asogli Power Plant—owned by the Shenzhen Group of China
  • CENIT—owned by CENIT Energy Limited, a special purpose vehicle created to develop the IPP.

In addition, a Government Consent and Support Agreement for a fourth IPP, Cenpower, received Parliamentary approval in October 2012.[1]

[1] Kunateh, M. “Gov’t Cenpower Sign Agreement.” The Chronicle, November 27, 2012 Accessed on January 13, 2014 at:

Transmission and Distribution Network

The transmissions and distribution network in Ghana is operated by three state-owned enterprises. There are one transmission company, GridCo, and two distribution companies. The two distribution companies are divided by geographic region. Electricity Company of Ghana (ECG) covers southern Ghana and NEDCo covers Northern Ghana.

Ghana Grid Company Limited

Ghana Grid Company Limited (GridCo) is an independent transmission system operator formed in accordance with the Energy Commission Act, 1997 (Act 541)[1] and the Volta River Development Act, 2005 (Act 692). GridCo was formed in December 2006, and took over VRA’s transmission functions and assets in 2008.

GridCo is responsible for the operation and maintenance (O&M) of all transmission lines throughout Ghana. To carry out this responsibility Grid Co is also in charge of:

  • Undertaking economic dispatch and transmission of electricity from wholesale suppliers (generating companies) to bulk customers and distribution companies
  • Providing fair and non-discriminatory transmission services to all power market participants
  • Providing metering and billing services to bulk customers
  • Carrying out transmission system planning, investing to provide the capacity to reliably transmit electric energy, and managing the wholesale power market.
GridCo funds all of its operations through a transmission service charge levied on electricity delivered to distribution companies and through electricity sold directly to bulk customers. GridCo has successfully turned a profit the last three years.[2]

[1] “National Energy Policy.” Ghanaian Ministry of Energy. February 2010

[2] “Energizing Economic Growth: Making the Power and Petroleum Sectors Rise to the Challenge.” World Bank, June 2013

Electricity Company of Ghana

The Electricity Company of Ghana (ECG) is a limited liability company wholly owned by the Government of Ghana and operating under the Ministry of Energy. Known as the Electricity Department when it was founded in 1947, it was converted into the Electricity Corporation of Ghana by Decree 125 in 1967 and incorporated under the Companies Code in February 1997.[1]

ECG is responsible for distributing electricity in the southern part of Ghana. This includes the Ashanti, Central, Eastern, Greater Accra, Volta, and Western regions. Within those regions, ECG has 1.8 million customers and distributes 90 percent of all electricity sold in Ghana. In 2013, ECG’s customer base consisted of:

  • Lifeline consumers that consume less than 50kWh per month—they represent 51 percent of ECG’s customers, 6 percent of consumption, and 1 percent of sales revenue
  • Non-residential consumers—these customers represent 12 percent of energy consumption and 56 percent of sales revenue
  • Non-lifeline residential consumer—these consumers represent 34 percent of energy consumption and 36 percent of sales revenue
  • Special Load Tariff and high-voltage mines—these customers represent 48 percent of consumption and seven percent of sales revenue.
ECG has registered losses of US$16 million in 2011, US$44 million in 2012 and US$60 million in 2013.[2]

[1] “About US.” ECG Accessed on January 10, 2014 at:

[2] “Energizing Economic Growth: Making the Power and Petroleum Sectors Rise to the Challenge.” World Bank, June 2013

Northern Electricity Distribution Company of Ghana

NEDCo is a wholly owned subsidiary of VRA responsible for the distribution of electricity in the northern part of Ghana. NEDCo serves the Northern, Upper West, Upper East, Brong-Ahafo, Sunyani, and Techiman regions. In those regions, which have an average electrification rate of 36 percent, NEDCo has 420,000 customers. These regions represent about 64 percent of the landmass of Ghana, but only 10 percent of power demand, with a peak load of 120MW.[1]

[1] “About Us.” NEDCo Accessed on January 10, 2014 at:

Key Problems of the Energy Sector

In the last two decades the demand for electricity has been growing by 10-15 % annually. The expanding commercial and industrial sectors are, together with the high population growth, the main drivers of this process. In order to meet the demand and promote the decentralisation of economic growth and to support the development of small industries outside the main growth centres in the capital and along the coast, it is necessary to build additional generation capacity, and also to provide urgently needed transmission and distribution facilities for productive use. Even where there is sufficient generation capacity to serve the demand of commercial customers, the electricity company has problems to provide enough equipment (meters, transformers etc.) to connect commercial users and the costs for the installation exceed the financial capacities of most enterprises. Moreover, individual business people have hardly any influence and means to push their interests and applications vis-à-vis the electricity company.

Other problems include:

  • Much of the country’s high voltage transmission system is ageing badly and increasingly unreliable; the risk of outages remains significant as electricity demand continues to rise faster than the rate of economic growth. Upgrading of the transmission system is a clear investment priority for the sector.
  • The electricity distribution sub-sector (ECG and NED) suffers from poor commercial and operational performance, with high losses due to old and overloaded networks in many areas, combined with problems of metering, billing, electricity theft and inadequate revenue collection.

Both issues are being addressed under the WB/AfDB/SECO Energy Access & Development Project (GEDAP) (USD 200m).

Policy Framework, Laws and Regulations

National Energy Policy

A national energy policy was approved by Cabinet in late 2009 and is being pursued by the GoG. A key objective of the Government‘s energy policy focus is to ensure universal access to electricity particular for the rural communities in a reasonable time period. The Ghanaian government also embarked on a project to extend electrification to more than 5 communities in every district of the country. The government projects to achieve universal access by 2015, but this seems hardly realistic. Due to their poor financial situation both VRA and ECG have no funds to connect new residential areas and industrial zones.

To realise connections three financial schemes apply:

  • Government Projects: The Government (Ministry of Energy) allocates budget for new connections, the distribution companies will carry out the projects.
  • Self Help Electrification: The self help electrification project (SHEP), requires communities use own budget to build a distribution network (poles) while lines and controls are financed by the ministry to install hardware to connect their distribution network to the grid. 
  • Private investment: Households or companies fully finance the hardware and installation to be connected to the grid.

The same financial constrains apply to connecting new industrial zones to the grid. In situations where the entrepreneurs (or others) provide and install all the necessary equipment, VRA-NED or ECG will connect the area to the grid.

The broad policy objectives of the government as outlined in the Medium Term Development Framework (MTDPF) include the following:

  • Improving and sustaining macroeconomic stability,
  • Expanding productive infrastructure,
  • Accelerating agriculture modernization and agro-based industrial development,
  • Developing human resources for national development,
  • Ensuring transparent and accountable governance,
  • Reducing poverty and income inequalities.

There is a clear focus on:

  • Energy supply – To ensure increased access of households and industry to reliable and adequate electricity. This will involve diversifying the national energy mix, including the use of indigenous sources of energy and ensuring efficient management of the energy sector.
  • Poverty Reduction – To promote income generation opportunities for the poor and vulnerable including food crop farmers; facilitate and enhance the empowerment of the poor in terms of their economic, social and human rights and environmental protection and security; promote inclusive development processes through decentralization and gender equity; develop and enhance social protection for the poor by ensuring fair and equitable distribution of national wealth.

Another key element of the governmental policy is the Private Sector Development Strategy (PSDS II). The objective of the PSDS is to foster the development of sustainable corporate strategies for enterprise growth and job creation. The Endev 2 intervention has been planned within the framework established by the Second Private Sector Development Strategy (PSDS II) Concept Document of the Ministry of Trade and Industry (Lead Executing Agency). This concept document was recently affirmed by the President. The concept paper sets out the framework for the design and development of the second phase of the Medium-term Private Sector Development Strategy (PSDS II). The GTZ-supported Programme for Sustainable Economic Development (PSED) will provide support for the implementation of the PSDS II. EnDev Ghana activities will be incorporated into the structure of the bi-lateral Programme for Sustainable Economic Development to ensure alignment. There is a draft National Renewable Energy Strategy together with a draft Strategic National Energy Plan 2006 – 2020. The strategy set the target to achieve 10% of renewable energy (not including large hydro power) in the energy mix by 2020, including wind, mini-hydro, modern biomass resources and solar-PV. Ghana has significant potential for hydropower, biomass, wind and solar power. A renewable energy law is under preparation and yet to be finalised. The objective is to develop and enforce standards and codes for renewable energy technologies. This will include standards for bio-fuels, solar lighting and solar water heaters. This draft renewable energy bill was ready for submission to Cabinet as of December 2008. It has to be reviewed again by the new administration to reflect their vision for the energy sector. As the national policies and strategies on renewable energy are still being established, EnDev Ghana will for the time being continue to focus on the energy for productive use interventions started under EnDev I and not include further activities in the field of renewable energy. There are plans under World Bank co-funded GEDAP to create a new institutional and policy platform from which to launch an innovative, multi-faceted approach for expanding electrification in Ghana. This includes the establishment of an independent Rural Electrification Agency (REA), which will coordinate all rural electrification programmes and determine areas to receive electrification based on transparent eligibility criteria and commercial principles.

Renewable Energy Strategies and Laws

A renewable energy law is in parliament and is expected to be passed soon. The BMZ is prepared to support the implementation of the law and establishment of appropriate legislative instruments such as a feed-in tariff. As the national policies and strategies on renewable energy are still being established, EnDev Ghana will continue to focus on the energy for productive use interventions. Support the use of renewable energy for productive use for example in the wood-working sector or in agro-processing could be considered once the RE law is implemented,

Electricity Access and Rural Electrification

The EnDev intervention is consistent with current GOG activities to intensify rural electrification and the Productive Uses of Electricity (PUE) Programme, which is being implemented by the Ministry of Energy (MoEn). The project will continue to work within the existing framework to rollout the extension of electricity to selected industrial zones. The project will also liaise with the MOEn and others to seek further collaboration in the area of Productive Use of Electricity.

Institutional Set Up in the Energy Sector, Activities of Other Donors

The electricity sector in Ghana is run through 6 institutions:

  • Ministry of Energy (MoE):

The MoE is the body responsible for the formulation, coordination, monitoring and review of policies and programmes for the overall development and utilisation of energy resources in Ghana.

  • Volta River Authority (VRA):

VRA is the state-owned electricity utility responsible for the generation and transmission of electricity in Ghana and supplies electricity in bulk to its subsidiary NED, and to ECG.

  • Northern Electricity Department (NED):

NED is the subsidiary of VRA responsible for the distribution of electricity in the northern part of Ghana.

  • Electricity Company of Ghana (ECG):

ECG is the utility responsible for the distribution of electricity in the southern part of Ghana. According to the provisions of the Statutory Corporations (Conversion to Companies) Act, 1993 VRA and ECG have been converted into companies under the Companies Code.

  • Ghana Grid Company (GRIDCO):

GRIDCO is a Power Transmission Utility company formed as part of the Power Sector Reforms to be responsible for the Operation and Maintenance of all Transmission Lines. This was to enable the VRA to focus on its core task of generation. The objective is to ensure an open access to national grid by all generators of electricity, particularly Independent Power Producers (IPPs). This provides a level playing field for both private and public sector investors in the electric power generation to be able to enter into power purchase agreements with consumers.

The current regulatory framework for the electricity industry is provided by Acts 538 and 541 which established the Public Utilities Regulatory Commission and Energy Commission (EC) respectively; to ensure the proper functioning of all players in the electricity sector and to create the required environment for stakeholders and for private investment in the sector.

Licensing decisions rendered by the EC are subject to appeals to the Minister of Energy or the courts, but tariff decisions are not subject to appeal.

Public Utilities Regulatory Commission (PURC)

PURC has been set up as a fully independent body to regulate the setting of tariffs for and enforcement of customer service obligations of all public utilities. The PURC‘s regulatory mandates are:

  • To provide guidelines on rates chargeable for electricity services. These guidelines provide a transparent and predictable mechanism for setting rates. An Automatic Adjustment Formula has been introduced to allow for quarterly revision of tariffs to reflect fluctuations in crude oil prices and foreign exchange rates, the hydro-thermal generation mix and changes in the consumer price index. Major tariff reviews take place every four years. The tariff review process is quite transparent and the public and consumers are involved through the public hearings system. Nevertheless, there has been a fair degree of political interference in the tariff setting process in the past years. In 2008, a dispute between government and PURC over the setting of end-user electricity prices led to the resignation of the then PURC president,
  • To examine and approve the tariffs,
  • To protect the interests of consumers and providers of public utility services,
  • To monitor the standard of performance of these utilities,
  • To promote fair competition among service providers in electricity, as well as in water.

Energy Commission (EC) The EC‘s regulatory mandates are:

  • Advise the Minister on national policies for the efficient, economical, and safe supply of electricity, natural gas and petroleum products having due regard to the national economy,
  • To receive and assess applications and grant licenses to utilities for the transmission, wholesale supply and distribution of electricity, and to qualified operators in the energy sector,
  • To establish and enforce, in consultation with PURC, standards of performance for the relevant utilities,
  • To promote and ensure uniform rules of practice for the transmission, wholesale supply and distribution of electricity.

Energy Foundation (EF)

The Energy Foundation Ghana is a non-profit, public-private partnership institution, devoted to the promotion of energy efficiency and renewable energy, as a key strategy to managing Ghana's growing energy needs in a sustainable manner. It was established in November 1997, by the Private Enterprise Foundation in collaboration with the Government of Ghana to promote sustainable development and efficient consumption of energy in all of its forms in Ghana.

Activities of Donors

A number of donors are providing financial and technical support to the Government of Ghana through her implementing agencies. These include the World Bank (IDA), African Development Bank (AfDB), Global Environmental Fund (GEF), Switzerland, Japan, France, Spain, India and China. The biggest energy sector project which is running currently is the Ghana Energy Access and Development Project (GEDAP) which consolidates funding from Multilateral, Bilateral and Government.

Within this framework, the participating donors are providing support in the areas of

(1) national level institutional, policy development, organisation and capacity building;

(2) Generation sub-sector organisation, capacity building and upgrading of facilities;

(3) Transmission sub-sector organisation, capacity building and upgrading of facilities;

(4) rural electrification and renewable energy development, institution, policy, organisation, business model and new facilities.

The coordination of donor support takes place within the framework of the Donor Sector Group, established under the Multi Donor Budget Support (MDBS) framework. The Energy Sector group meets every other month to coordinate activities within the sector. Donors that are very active in the sector group include: The World Bank (Sector Lead), France (AFD), Switzerland, African Development Bank, Japan (JICA). To a very large extent there is division of labour. The EnDev Team in Ghana attends the Sector Group Meetings as observers to share information and to ensure that interventions are in line with current policy and programmes of the MoE. The EnDev Team will continue to participate in the Sector Group Meetings and will coordinate activities with donor colleagues and policy makers at the MoE with regard to the Productive Uses of Energy.

Short explanation to which degree EnDev will be in line with capacity development needs of the partner

Capacity Development for local governments:

  • Local governments recognize the need for small industrial development through the planning and dialogue sessions, this will improve their internal planning and budgeting processes; Local governments will improve private sector involvement in participatory planning processes. They will also appreciate of the needs of the micro small businesses and re-orient themselves towards meeting these need by pursuing local economic development vigorously and improving the public services delivered to businesses,
  • Local physical planning units will gain experience in providing space for local economic development activities,
  • Local governments will also gain understanding of the (electricity) infrastructure needs of enterprises and customers and seek to provide them alongside other social infrastructure. Hitherto infrastructure development in the local area was mainly to meet the social needs to the neglect of productive infrastructure, and
  • Local Governments will learn how to use synergies between larger infrastructure interventions and EnDev.

Capacity Development for business associations:

  • Members of local business associations will be supported to improve their general business skills, especially in cash-flow-management and book-keeping. This is achieved through a tailor-made adaptation of the CEFE methodology, taking into account the special needs of the pre-dominantly illiterate target group,
  • Business associations will develop the capacity to adequately manage the industrial areas in an economically and environmentally sustainable way,
  • Local businesses are enabled to better voice out their needs and concerns towards the local administration through public-private dialogue.

Capacity Development on national level:

  • The Ministry of Trade and Industry will use the industrial zones as an example for a decentralized economic growth strategy. The project will assist the Ministry in using the experiences for the development of national policies and strategies,
  • The Ministry of Energy will be supported in better addressing small enterprises‘ needs within its Energy for Productive Uses Project, The Ghana Environmental Protection Agency is being supported in tackling environmental issues, resource and energy efficiency in MSMEs in a business friendly manner, through a series of educational materials. So far, only large enterprises have been within the focus of EPA‘s activities.

Other Activities of BMZ and DGIS

Apart from EnDev, neither Germany, nor the Netherlands are supporting the Energy Sector in Ghana.

Under its Multi-Annual-Strategic Plan, the Dutch Embassy supports Ghana in the following sectors and priority themes:

  • general budget support
  • health/HIV Aids,
  • environment/natural resources,
  • education and school meals,
  • water and sanitation,
  • gender,
  • good governance.

BMZ has defined the following focal areas for the development cooperation with Ghana:

  • Agriculture,
  • Good Governance and Decentralization,
  • Sustainable economic development
  • Employment-Oriented Private Sector Development.

Within these focal areas, EnDev Ghana is closely co-operating with the BMZ financed Programme for Sustainable Economic Development (PSED). EnDev is part of PSED‘s activities in the field of local and regional economic development.

Further Information