President John Mahama Thursday has commissioned Ghana’s second largest hydroelectric generating plant at Bui in the Brong Ahafo Region, and declared that the country is on its way to become a major producer of power in West Africa.
The $622 million Bui Hydroelectric Dam project will provide the country with an additional 400 megawatts of electricity. The Dam is built on the Black Volta River at the Bui Gorge located at the southern end of Bui National Park.
President Mahama said two private sector power generators have signed a power purchasing agreement with the Electricity Company of Ghana to supply about 100 megawatts solar power to the national grid.
He said the Volta River Authority has started feeding in solar power into the country’s transmission grid from its Navraongo solar power plant.
He announced that 15,000 stand-alone solar systems have been distributed to public institutions to reduce their reliance on national transmission grid.
In addition, the President said, the Energy Ministry has also distributed solar lanterns to off-grid communities that are yet to be connected to the national grid, promising that more would be given out to other remote communities.
President Mahama indicated that the government has invested a lot of resources to strengthen the national transmission grid, citing the inauguration of the new Kintampo power sub-station in May, which he said has improved power supply to the northern sector of the country.
“All these developments make our vision of becoming a major power producer in West Africa clearly possible.”
The President acknowledged that the Bui project created thousands of jobs as well as transfer of knowledge and skills to a plethora of young engineers.
He also commended the Bui Power Authority for a great job done including resettling indigenes of the area and dealing with issues of livelihood empowerment.
Minister of Energy Emmanuel Armah Kofi Buah said the Bui Dam would add 20% to the country’s energy generation.
“It will boost the current generation capacity by 20 percent and enhance reliability and quality of electricity supply nationwide”.
He announced that the Dam has a unique feature which makes it possible to operate without the use of water, and can be sustained all year round irrespective of change in weather.
The Minister said efforts have been put in place to ensure transmission losses are reduced in order to make power generated are put to maximum use.
Chief Executive of the Bui Power Authority, Jabesh Amissah Arthur also promised to efficiently manage the power project.
Below is a summarised history of the Bui Hydroelectric Dam project culled out of state’s owned broadcaster, Ghana Broadcastind Corporation’s website.
In May this year, President Mahama inaugurated one of the generating units for trial and to also cushion Ghanaians against power rationing which became known as “dumso dumso”.
The Bui Dam is built on the Black Volta River at the Bui Gorge, at the southern end of Bui National Park.
The project is a collaboration between the government of Ghana and Sino Hydro, a Chinese construction company.
In 2008, former President J.A Kufuor cut the sod for work to begin on the dam.
Construction of the main dam began in December 2009. The Bui hydro-electric dam had first been envisaged in 1925 by the British-Australian geologist and naturalist Albert Ernest Kitson when he visited the Bui Gorge.
The dam had been on the drawing board since the 1960s, when Ghana’s largest dam, the Akosombo Dam, was built further downstream on the Volta River.
By 1978, planning for the Bui Dam was advanced with support from Australia and the World Bank.
In 1992, the project was revived and a first feasibility study was conducted by the French firm Coyne et Bellier. Seven years later, the Volta River Authority signed an agreement with the US firms Halliburton and Brown and Root to build the dam without issuing a competitive bid.
The Kufuor administration which had taken over power in January 2001, shelved the project.
However, in 2002 the project was revived.
An international call for tender was issued, but only a single company submitted a bid and the tender was cancelled.
In 2005, the Chinese company Sinohydro submitted an unsolicited bid for the dam together with funding from the Chinese Exim Bank.
The government accepted the bid and the Ministry of Energy signed contracts for an environmental impact assessment in December 2005, as well as for an updated feasibility study in October 2007.
The government created the Bui Power Authority in August 2007 to oversee the construction and operation of the project and the associated resettlement.
Responsibility for the dam was thus transferred from the Volta River Authority, which until then had been responsible for the development and operation of all power projects in Ghana.
In January 2008, preparatory construction began and in December 2008 the river was diverted and a year later construction on the main part of the dam began.
The Bui Dam is a gravity roller-compacted concrete-type with a height of 108 m (354 ft) above foundation and 90 m (295 ft) above the riverbed.
The crest of the dam is 492m (1,614 ft) meters long and sits at an elevation of 185 m (607 ft) above sea level.
The main dam's structural volume is 1,000,000 m3 (35,314,667 cu ft). The total project cost is 622 million dollars.
It is being financed by the government of Ghana's own resources of 60 million dollars and two credits facilities by the China Exim Bank: a concessional loan of $ 270 million at 2% interest and a commercial loan of $ 292 million.
Both loans have a grace period of five years and an amortization period of 20 years.
The proceeds of 30 tons per year of Ghana’s cocoa exports to China, which are placed in an escrow account at the Exim Bank, serve as collateral for the loan.
Once the dam becomes operational, 85% of the proceeds of electricity sales from the hydropower plant will go to the escrow account.
If not all the proceeds are needed to service the loan, the remainder reverts to the government of Ghana.