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Mere Power Nzema Limited has announced plans to build Africa’s largest solar photovoltaic (PV) power plant in Ghana.
The 155 megawatt plant, which will be situated at Aiwiaso in the East Nzema District, is expected to increase Ghana’s current generating capacity by 6 percent.
UK-based renewable energy investor and developer, Blue Energy, the parent company of Mere Power Nzema announced this last week.
Mere Power Nzema will commence construction of the $400 million plant in 2013, and will start generating power in the fourth quarter of 2013 with full commercial operation by mid-2015.
The project will create 500 jobs over the two-year construction period and 200 permanent jobs. It is also expected to stimulate another 2100 jobs in the local economy.
Last month, Energy Minister, Joe Oteng-Adjei announced he was seeking $1 billion of private investment to help Ghana achieve its target of generating 10 percent of electricity from renewable sources by 2020.
The Nzema project will meet 20 percent of this generation target.
Chris Dean, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Blue Energy said: “The Nzema project is a serious investor response to Ghana’s effort to build a sustainable low-carbon energy economy which reliably powers industry and households for jobs and wealth creation. Blue Energy and our consultants HML Marine Power and Energy Ltd. have enjoyed working with the Ghana government to achieve this milestone.”
He commented: “Ghana’s forward-thinking strategy puts it in a strong position to lead the renewable energy revolution in sub-Saharan Africa. Nzema is a case study in how governments can unlock the huge potential for solar energy in Africa. We are delighted that it will make a strong contribution to the national economy, provide much needed generating capacity and help develop the skills of the future.”
Vodafone Ghana has indicated it would no more invest in communities where its communication gadgets and underground cables have been stolen.
Tagging such places as ‘no go’ areas, the company said it would spend money to improve communication in communities that were prepared to proffer protection and surveillance at its installations.
Kyle Whitehill, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Vodafone Ghana, who disclosed this to journalists in Accra recently during a tour of some of his outfit’s sites, said perpetrators of the act include unscrupulous contractors and former employees who have an agenda to sabotage the company’s efforts at expanding coverage to effectively serve its customers.
Vodafone Ghana’s fixed underground mega cables, which were mostly the target of the thieves, could carry about 2,500 smaller cables each representing a customer.
In August, this year, the company lost 34 of its mega cables as a result of the activities of thieves.
About 28 percent of Vodafone Ghana’s installations which are dotted around the country are susceptible to theft, and this has resulted in about 2,000 customers being denied fixed line services for close to a month.
Certain places in Tamale, according to Mr Whitehill, have been designated as ‘no go’ areas because such areas are inhabited by hardened criminals.
At these places, the presence of the police does not scare criminals who cut and steal the company’s cables.
Mr Whitehill stated that the thieves steal the mega cables because they are expensive on the market.
The company loses close to GH¢2 million every year as a result of cable theft and damage by road construction companies.
In order to avert the activities of thieves, Mr Whitehill said Vodafone Ghana had invested in new technology which is commonly referred to as Multi Service Access Nodes (M-SANs).
Expected to provide high speed internet browsing, the cost to the telecommunications company is GH¢50 million.
About 60 percent of Vodafone’s fixed line subscribers have currently been migrated to the new technology pending the migration of the rest (40 percent) of customers.
Some four years ago, Vodafone Ghana could only boast of 5,000 fixed broadband customers. Today, as many as 79,000 customers enjoy the service.
Leading telecommunications provider, MTN Ghana has commissioned a state-of-the-art Information and Communications Technology (ICT) centre for the Ghana College of Physicians and Surgeons (GCPS) at a cost of GH¢ 338, 610.75.
The project, which forms part of MTN Ghana Foundation’s key Corporate Social Investment include total upgrade of the server room into a data center with a complete set of equipment including servers, storage systems, cooling systems, fire suppression, power systems and environmental monitoring devices.
There is also an ultramodern video conferencing system.
The project gives access to residents and fellows of the college in Accra, Kumasi and Tamale.
Presenting the facility to the College in Accra, Michael Ikpoki, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of MTN stated that “the main purpose of the facility is to promote a more collaborative and reference centre for surgeons and physicians through the use of advanced ICT, which promotes best practices in the medical field.”
He added that the facility will also enhance the concept of telemedicine innovation in the country’s health care delivery.
It helps eliminate distant barriers and can improve access to medical services that would often not be consistently available in distant rural communities.
He expressed the hope that more than 3,000 medical practitioners, who would benefit from the facility “would have an easy access to information and share digital communication experience with colleagues and professionals within the country and outside the country.”
Professor Marian Addy, Chairperson of Council of the GCPS, on behalf of the college, thanked MTN for the facility and expressed the hope that the relationship between the two entities would grow.
By Esther Awuah
Zoomlion Ghana Limited and its sister companies under the Jospong Group of Companies say they are currently managing about 250,000 staff under various modules and programmes across the country.
The achievement, according to Dr Joseph Siaw Agyepong, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Jospong Group of Companies, is due to effective public-private-partnership.
This was made know when thousands of employees of Zoomlion Ghana Limited and Jospong Group of Companies gathered to observe a week-long thanksgiving service to show appreciation to God for a successful year.
Through out the week, management and staff from across the country joined hands to worship in the event, which was themed, “Our God who began it will accomplished it” at the headquarters of the company in Accra.
Government officials, Members of Parliament (MPs), Mayor of Accra, Ministers of God and other dignitaries in the financial sector took part in the celebration, which attracted family and friends of the company.
Speaking at the end of the week-long thanksgiving service, Dr Agyepong said, “We are grateful to government for the tremendous private sector support that we have received till date in this endeavour.”
In the area of education, he stated the company has, in collaboration with the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology and the University of Western Ontario in Canada, established a tertiary institution for sanitation and waste management.
The company, he said, continues to pursue its plans of extending its tentacles to other countries.
“On the international scene, we have also stepped out of our shores and comfort zone to other countries such as Dubai, Sierra Leone, Togo, Liberia, Angola, Zambia and Equatorial Guinea while plans are far advanced for other countries such as Southern Sudan and Qatar.”
On the December 7, 2012, Dr Agyapong passionately appealed to Ghanaians, especially the youth to heed the numerous advice of National Peace Council, Christian and Moslem leaders, eminent chiefs to ensure peace.
“We, at Zoomlion and the Jospong Group, passionately appeal to you to heed these words of wisdom so that we will continue to live in peace before, during and after the elections.”
Apostle D.K. Noble Atsu (Rtd) predicted that the Jospong Group would double its present size in the years ahead.
“Greater things are yet to happen. The 36 companies will move to 60 and over.”
In the sermon titled “beware of little foxes”, Apostle Atsu (rtd) noted there are little things which people do not regard but end up affecting their lives and they should be watched.
He named vain talk, pride and weak spiritual life as hindrances that could affect one’s work.
“One’s spiritual standing can affect his or her work.
He said, “Inability to cope with prosperity when God blesses us and pulling our colleagues down when they are promoted at the workplace is not a good practice.”
Later prayers were said for the nation, chief executive and workers of Jospong Group after seasoned gospel musicians, Elder Mereku Jnr and Cecilia Marfo treated the gathering to scintillating music.
Proceeds from the thanksgiving ceremony would be donated to the needy in the country.
By Emelia Ennin Abbey
Government is in talks with the European Union (EU) to enhance the capacity of Ghana’s private sector to produce compost from water weeds to boost banana production.
Sherry Ayitey, Minister of Environment, Science & Technology, said the move is part of initiatives to create a value chain that would attract investment to transform harvested water weeds into compost to boost agriculture in the country.
She said the assistance from the European Union would enhance the capacity of the private sector to produce compost from harvested aquatic weeds.
The minister disclosed this to BUSINESS GUIDE shortly after commissioning two harvesters and transport badges valued at $2,588,000 to control the growth of aquatic weeds in the Lower Volta which is threatening the livelihood of fishing community.
To her, the support from the European partners would improve the competitiveness of the banana sector on the international market.
The presence of aquatic weeds in most water bodies in Ghana is worrisome.
A 2009 survey by the EPA estimated that between 15 and 40 per cent of open water surface of most reservoirs are infested with weeds.
“It is government’s desire to transform the water weed menace into an opportunity for enhancing livelihoods and income generation,” she said.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has trained some members of communities along water bodies to compost harvested weeds for crop production.
As part of the integrated management of invasive Aquatic Weeds Project, the EPA, through the Ministry of Environment Science and Technology, secured financing from the African Development Bank to procure the weed harvesters and transport badges to control the growth of aquatic weeds in the Tano and Volta Rivers.
The two weed harvesters, which are like water mowers have been named Animati and Pediato after two traditional leaders in the lower Volta Area who championed the removal of aquatic weeds.
The transport badges have been named Yaakwabia and Manyaklo after the first female Executive Secretary of the then Environmental Protection Council and the people of the area respectively.
Daniel Amlalo, Acting Director of the Environmental Protection Agency, speaking before the commission, noted that the battle against the invasion of water weeds started two decades ago and as at 2006 about 6,066 hectares of the Lower Volta, Kpong Head Pond, Oti and Tano Rivers and Lagoon Complex were covered with weeds.
“The infestations of the water weeds have severely compromised the use of these water bodies by obstructing water supply, river transport, fishing, threatening hydropower generation and also increasing the prevalence of water-borne diseases such as Bilharzia.”
Marie-Laure Akin–Olugbade, Resident Representative of the African Development bank in Ghana, explained that the Bank supported Ghana with a concessionary loan of $2,588,000 and a grant component of $323, 500 under a five-year project to enhance aquatic weeds removal.
With the mechanical harvesting, she said, it is expected that the critical mass of weed infestation would be reduced.
“It is expected that the Government of Ghana will continue to support and strengthen the achievements made through this project by expanding the scale of harvesting of the invasive aquatic weeds while ensuring that the harvested areas are not re-infested.”
The Volta River Authority (VRA) is expected to manage the Weed harvesters and the transport badges.
Kweku Botwe, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the VRA, in a speech read on his behalf, gave assurance that his outfit would operate and maintain the harvesters in a professional and responsible manner so as to make optimum use of the equipment.
By Emelia Ennin Abbey
At the recent presidential debate organized by the Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA) in Accra, four presidential candidates for the December polls outlined their vision for the country’s oil and gas sector.
Dr. Abu Sakara, flagbearer of the Convention People’s Party (CPP), who was first to comment on the sector, described the absence of appropriate legislations to govern the country’s oil and gas industry as erroneous.
He said when voted into power, he would ensure the passage of local content bill and other relevant laws that were needed to regulate the oil and gas sector.
“We will, with a sense of urgency, pass and implement all laws regulating the oil and gas sector because we cannot be exploring an industry without the appropriate framework to govern it.”
Two laws governing the sector – Petroleum Revenue Management Act 2011 and the Petroleum Commission Act 2011 – have been passed while the Petroleum Exploration and Production Bill, the Local Content and Local Participation Bill and a National Gas Policy are yet to be passed.
Dr. Sakara added that “setting up the Petroleum Commission as an institution without the instruments for it to carry out its duties and functions is not sufficient. Therefore, we will ensure that subsequent bills are passed quickly.”
Hassan Ayariga, flagbearer of the People’s National Convention (PNC), said he would also develop the oil and gas sector by reviewing all oil contracts and agreements.
That, he said, would help create more oil revenue so Ghanaians can adequately benefit from the resource.
“I will review all agreements to favour Ghanaians, and let no one tell me that it cannot be done. I will also expand the exploration of oil and gas to cover other coastal areas, which will go a long way to increase the production of oil and gas and generate more revenue.”
Nana Akufo-Addo, the New Patriotic Party’s (NPP) presidential candidate indicated that “we are not going to be able to get the best value from the oil if critical decisions are not made, especially in terms of passing laws.” He pledged that his administration would take steps to pass all the appropriate laws on the sector.
He stated the oil revenue should be used to develop the education and health care sectors to benefit all Ghanaians.
He said “if these two sectors are well developed at the time that the oil resources runs out, we will have a transformed educated populace and have access to good health care.”
President John Dramani Mahama, presidential candidate of the ruling National Democratic Congress (NDC), said “since 2009 16 new discoveries of oil had been made.
He noted that “the industry would be predictable and attractive to investors who have the technology and the capital to put into it.”
He said the exploration and production bill had gone through the Cabinet level and was currently awaiting parliamentary approval.
He therefore appealed to members of parliament to try and get it passed “because that covers the various steps in oil industry, which are production, regulation and revenue management.”
By Esther Awuah
Golden STAR Bogoso/ Prestea Limited (GSBPL), a gold mining company in the Western region, has awarded 143 of its long service employees at a ceremony in Bogoso.
The award scheme, instituted in 2006, is organized annually to motivate and retain dedicated staff. The occasion was themed ‘Redefining Labour’s Contribution to the Business.’
This year, 53 employees of GSBPL, who have served five years in the company, each received a refrigerator with a certificate while 90 workers who have served 10 years, received 10 bags of cement each, a packet of roofing sheets and a certificate.
Neale Laffin, General Manager of GSBPL, in a speech, noted that since the company instituted the long service award, about 980 employees, constituting 94 per cent of the workforce, had benefitted.
He disclosed that the amount spent so far on the award scheme was about $650,000 and that the awards demonstrated the company’s commitment to retaining its talents to support the growth and future expansion of the business.
He indicated that the company had opened a new chapter in the company-community relations by signing three corporate social responsibility agreements with its catchment communities.
“I am appealing to all employees to bring to the attention of management, the communities’ concerns and offer suggestions for the improvement and continued success of our business,” he added.
Mr. Laffin called on all workers to play leadership roles in safety, production and effective cost management, adding that the leadership role should not only be from the management staff but senior and junior staffs as well.
“The continuous improvement of the business ultimately depends on efforts and contributions of the employees and their creativity, innovation, speed and desire to go the extra mile are critical for the success of the business,” he stressed.
On his part, the Human Resource Manager of GSPBL, Francis Eduku admitted that employees’ strength, skills and knowledge constitute the main driving force for organizational success.
He therefore called on the workers to continue to work hard and act as good ambassadors for the company.
“We cannot afford to do what others are doing because if we do that we’ll get the same results. We must do things differently to make a positive difference,” he urged the workers.
From Emmanuel Opoku, Bogoso
Per the arrangement, LPG would be discharged from the ship directly into BRVs.
This is collaboration between the Ministry of Energy, National Petroleum Authority and Fuel Trade, a bulk distribution company.
After some initial hitches, the project took off with a test run from Thursday, November 1 to Saturday, November 3, 2012 with 1,200 metric tonnes.
This is anticipated to serve the western and central regions, and a consignment of 1,200metric tones will arrive in Takoradi every week to serve the Western and Central regions.
This is going to continue until government is able to put into use the two facilities at Tema that is the Redfins’ floating barge and Fuel Trade’s storage and loading gantry next year.
The success of the three day test run is an indication of the observance of all safety protocols and regimes that has been put in place for the safe operation of the ship to BRV operation.
The peculiar nature of Ghana’s LPG supply cycle is such that a disruption of two (2) days to the cycles causes shortages of five to seven days. This is the reason why even though products are being supplied to the market currently, pockets of shortage still exist in some parts of the country.
As part of remedial measures taken by the NPA to mitigate the shortage and its effects on consumers, NPA has issued licenses to private firms to resolve the LPG problem.
There are also a number of medium to long term measures underway.
Currently under construction is a 4,000mt capacity tank farm and gantry that can supply 1000mt a day in Tema by Fuel Trade. It is expected to be completed in the second quarter of 2013.
The Ghana Gas Company’s Processing Plant is also expected to come on stream by the third quarter of 2013.
A business desk report
Workers of the Volta Lake Transport Company (VLTC) Limited, a subsidiary of the Volta River Authority (VRA), say they have detected plans by the Executive Director of the Bulk Oil Storage & Transport (BOST) and the Board chairman to vanquish VLTC.
The angry workers, who made this known in a press statement issued in Accra and signed by Victor Amoah, Local Union Chairman of the Marine and Dry Dock Workers Union of TUC, mentioned that if Dr Akoto and Alhaji Hudu Yahaya do not stay away from their company’s business, they would be forced to do the unthinkable.
“It has now been established that the management of BOST is making every move to liquidate the VLTC by secretly constructing a barge at Debre in the Central Gonja District in the Northern region.”
Noting that VLTC was established in 1971 by Act of Parliament, the workers said “if BOST wants to operate conveyance of petroleum products in its barges instead the of the VLTC preserved operation, then BOST should be ready to run all the other ferries of the VLTC and pay them their full entitlement of their engagement to date within twenty four hours including all other entitlement including housing and transportation of every worker of VLTC to their destinations.”
Addressing workers of the VLTC in Akosombo, Mr Amoah said after thorough investigations, it was established that BOST chairman Alhaji Hudu Yaya, Dr. Akoto and some few other BOST executives were operating under the color of the NDC office to liquidate a well established VLTC and throw them out of job at a time the NDC administration claims it was seeking to create jobs for the ordinary Ghanaian.
The workers further indicated that a South Korean ship builder, Worcon, was operating under the umbrella of BOST without paying any tax to the government and the people of Ghana.
This, according to the workers, was totally contrary to the work of BOST and VLTC, which has been mandated by law to convey petroleum products on a barge on the Volta Lake to Buipe for distribution to the three Northern regions including Burkina Faso by VLTC.
It said whereas BOST was to carry petroleum products from the Tema Oil Refinery through it underground pipelines to Maame Water near Atimpoku for onward pumping to Akosombo port and on barges for VLTC to convey them to Buipe, BOST has clandestinely refused to repair a broken pipeline for the past three years, thereby allowing private petrol tankers, most of which belong to them, to make money at the expense of the taxpayer.
“These among other things suggest atrocious manner and condition under which BOST wants to place the VLTC. It will be recalled that after the creation of the man-made lake at the end of the construction of the Akosombo dam, some German ship builders, well vested in building of barges to convey petroleum products on water established VLTC with the consent of the Volta River Authority which became the owner the VLTC. The successful operation on the lake with ferries by VLTC necessitated the VRA to put the matter before Parliament. As a result, a law was enacted to give VLTC the mandate to operate other ferries on the Volta Lake for the conveyance of numerous passengers along the banks of the lake and various island communities as well all on the Volta Lake in 1971.
Since then, VLTC and VRA have initiated several plans to offer ferry services and cutting of food items as well as cargo including tourist ferries on the lake.
A business desk report
Some Israeli companies are cajoling government to adopt renewable energy to diversify Ghana’s energy mix so as to mitigate dependence on the Akosombo Dam.
VRA’s renewable energy policy plan aims at attaining 10 percent renewable energy of the country’s energy portfolio over the next eight years.
Eyal Lampert, Deputy Chief of Mission of the Israeli Embassy, who disclosed this to the media in Accra recently, said his outfit was currently championing Eilat-Eilot’s Renewable Energy initiative, which assembles Israel’s renewable energy producers to Ghana to collaborate and explore the huge potential in the renewable energy sector.
Davidovich-Banet, Founder of Eilat-Eilot Renewable Energy Initiative, told BUSINESS GUIDE that Ghana needs to adopt renewable energy as part of its policy decisions without wasting time because Israel has only sun and the desert.
She said her country was not endowed with many river bodies.
Ms. Davidovich-Banet added that renewable energy generation was expensive, but explained that in the long-term it was cheaper and cleaner than other sources of energy.
Continuing, she said though Photovoltaic (PV) solar systems could generate the country’s energy needs for Ghana’s energy supply situation to improve, the hybrid off-grid solar systems could be linked to rural communities.
The cost of electricity production and transmission in Ghana is about 15 cents per unit.
Last year, government passed the Renewable Energy Bill into law.
This introduces a feed-in-tariff into the power sector in a move to bait investors to go into renewable energy supply.
The feed-in tariffs obligate electricity companies to pay their clients an amount.
A further payment will be made for any electricity fed into the grid and this is expected to spur the usage of renewable energy, especially solar PV roofs.
By Samuel Boadi