Guaranteeing power supply in Awudome Kwanta.
The power grid in Ghana is highly unreliable and unsure. Power failures that might last for hours up to days are happening on a regular basis. Also the power is being rationed since not enough for the whole population is produced. Especially for the inhabitants of the villages the connection to the power grid is highly important to ensure unrestricted teaching and the use of a public computer at the Awudome Kwanta Library. Hence a big concern of our organization was to ensure the power supply especially for that particular building.
In February 2017 Gudrun Bruckner and a group of motivated students travelled to Ghana to install a photo voltaic power plant on the roof of the library. They were supported by an experienced solar panel expert from Austria. Through frequent contact with a company in Ghana the photo voltaic modules could be purchased locally to ensure economic sustainability as well as to use the producers skills and experience with developing heat resistant modules specifically for the climate in Ghana. The technical realization for that is definitely there in Ghana – however it is barely accessible and too expensive for the broad population.
Important to us was not just to guarantee access to power for the community of Awudome Kwanta but to also pass on the knowledge necessary to keep the installation running and to even install further elements in the future. Furthermore, we aimed to strenghten the awareness of the population for renewable energy sources.
Ghana is an developing country with a positive outlook because there is high potential and can serve as a pioneer for other African states. Unfortunately, the economy within west African countries is weakened by daily power outs. The government is rationing the power supply in every region sector by sector. Within the capital of Accra, which over two million people call their home, district by district is cut off from the power supply for twelve hours. The inhabitants have adapted to the regular power outs but also spontaneous ones are common which make daily life a lot harder.
The reasons for the on lasting energy crisis in Ghana are diverse and can not be defined. The government claims that the Nigerian gasoline supply is too short and that the gas fields of Ghana can not yet be exploited due to lack of infrastructure. Another issue is posed by the fair rain in the region. More than half of all power usage in Ghana is covered by the Volta reservoir, the larges artificially constructed reservoir worldwide. The waterpower plant Akosombo is unable to produce enough energy since the water levels are too low. The self-produced energy is partially being sold to neighboring countries by the government to rise profitability. Consequently, the demand for power is on the rise in Ghana and it is faster than its production. The government has failed to implement critical measures to counteract the issue on time and is now facing a critical state.
Even if the country was successful in developing a properly interlinked power grid and connecting public facilities and homes it can not be used efficiently. Especially small businesses and production sites suffer under the current conditions. A regular worktime rhythm is not possible due to spontaneous power cuts that can last, especially in rural regions, up to entire days. Within the modern world of work the supply of power is irreplaceable. Machines are put to a stop, cooling chains are interrupted and schools are powerless, work is put to a rest and the lack of power is therefore posing a serious threat to many businesses. Larger companies have implemented diesel generators but those are loud, not CO2 neutral and especially expensive and therefore inaccessible to a lot of smaller businesses. The economy and development is suffering under these conditions, especially in rural areas.
Since the frustration with the current situation is rising and hope for the government to finally take action is shrinking, the people are looking for alternative solutions. Those who have the financial means produce their own electricity by generator or even with renewable resources but that does not solve the issue for villages and cities as a whole. However, more and more private persons as well as organizations recognize the high potential in natural energy sources such as water, sun, wind and biomass which are all present in Ghana.