Powering Ghana and Creating Jobs

»» Almost a thousand wooden canoes huddle together to form an intricate puzzle on the shore of Tema in Ghana. Colourful flags flutter everywhere and the dock is bristling with activity as the fishermen offload their catch. Tema is one of the biggest fishing villages in Ghana, making fishing the sole source of income for many families. However, massive power shortages almost immobilised the industry.

Fisherman, Nii Odametey, animatedly exclaims that power cuts were so prevalent that they even coined a word for it. Dumsor is a popular Ghanaian term describing persistent, irregular and unpredictable electrical power outages. Without a consistent refrigeration system, buyers were hesitant to purchase fish in bulk, seriously affecting the fishermen’s income. At the height of the crisis, people would have to endure blackouts for up to 24-hours, affecting the whole nation both economically and socially.

A significant partnership between the government of Ghana and Karpowership, a subsidiary of Turkish company Karadeniz Holdings, has solved the energy crisis in a unique and inventive way. A massive floating power plant – a powership – now graces the coast of Tema. Reminiscent of an apartment building, with 12 power-producing engines, it supplies non-stop electricity to Ghana in a cost-effective way.

Finding it impossible to contain their excitement, the people of Tema followed the progress of the powership on the radio as it travelled down the coast. On its arrival, it was welcomed by hundreds of cellphones filming its entry into port. Tema chief, Nii Adjei Kraku II, was there to ensure that the appropriate customs and rituals were performed at the shore.

The 142-metre long powership is delivered as a ready power plant, a “plug-and-play”, that delivers electricity within days of its arrival. The Grid Company of Ghana teamed up with Karpower to construct an eight-kilometre transmission line from the port to the nearest substation. The powership delivers baseload electricity 24/7, whilst also reducing the average cost of electricity, thereby ensuring that the whole community benefits. No one has to contend with dumsor anymore, and people can focus on growing their businesses.

Apart from the improvement in fishing and other industries, the powership also provided jobs to locals. Pearl Arokwah, the only female engineer on the ship, works at ensuring the water quality of the freshwater generators, boilers and steam turbines. She says it was a dream come true, walking onto that ship. It was a dream come true for many Ghanaians. Nii Odametey says they love seeing the lights on the ship illuminating the night sky. They cherish it, as it’s a symbol of what their community looks like now, and the potential it has enabled.