Alhaji Issahaku Salia, the Upper West Regional Minister, has identified inadequate number of sales and payment services points as one of the difficulties faced by customers of the Volta River Authority (VRA) in the Wa Municipality.
He said the way people, especially pre-paid customers, queue at the few centres to pay or buy power, encouraged people to engage in illegal connections which subsequently led to the loss in revenue to the VRA.
Alhaji Salia who made the call during the launch of the VRA Golden Jubilee Open Day Celebrations on Tuesday, called on the VRA to open more service centres.
He also noted that there was a misunderstanding of how the pre-paid meters worked, and many people felt cheated.
Alhaji Salia urged the management of VRA to help address the misconception by carrying out more consumer education campaigns to help the consuming public to understand how VRA works.
He asked consumers to understand that power generation was very expensive and that the lifeline of VRA was the revenue it generated.
He advised those who had the habit of stealing from the system to desist from the practice or be prepared to face the law when caught.
Alhaji Salia said Ghana’s discovery of gas offshore, the completion of the West African Gas Pipeline coupled with the deregulation of the energy sector had undoubtedly injected competition into energy production.
He said he was confident that VRA would rise up to the challenge to reposition itself to power Ghana to the status of a developed state.
Alhaji Salia said the government had given its approval for VRA to source funding through United Nations Kyoto Agreement for the development of renewable energy particularly solar and wind.
He appealed to VRA to consider the Upper West Region as the preferred destination for solar energy as the region was blessed with adequate sunshine.
Alhaji Salia urged the management of VRA to use the Golden Jubilee celebrations to reflect on their successes and challenges and chart a way forward towards producing sustainable energy that would bring in more revenue.
Meanwhile the VRA has promised to increase electricity supply in the country.
Mr Kwaku A. Awortwi, Chief Executive Officer (CEO), of the Volta River Authority (VRA), has assured Ghanaians that plans were far advanced to increase the current, 60 percent access of electricity, to 90 percent in the next five years.
He said in many West African countries, where electricity access average were less that 30 percent compared to Ghana’s percentage of 60 percent, VRA saw enormous potential for growth, and great prospects for those utilities that were efficient, competitive and competent.
Mr Awortwi said currently the access to electricity in the urban areas was 70 percent and for rural areas it was little above 30 percent, adding that, this would increase soon, based on the expansion of the rural electrification project.
Speaking at the Open Day, as part of activities marking the 50th anniversary ceremony of the construction of the Dam, Mr Awortwi assured that they would do all they could to make their services accessible to every Ghanaian.
The CEO said the establishment of the VRA set the foundation for newly independent Ghana’s economic and industrial policy.
He announced VRA’s readiness for a deregulated electricity market where there was likely to be keen competition.
Mr Awortwi said VRA’s position was not to prevent competition but to position itself to thrive and become even more successful in the emerging new environment.
He said the discovery of Oil and Gas in commercial quantities had set a good fortune for the authority in that it would be used to fuel VRA’s thermal plants and this would make the cost of electricity production lower for all.
Furthermore, the CEO said the formation of the West African Pool, aimed at interconnecting the sub-region, would ensure improved availability of electricity and economic growth for all.
“I have no doubt in my mind that over the next fifty years, in the emerging competitive environment in Ghana and the opening of the West Africa sub-region, through the West African Power Pool, the VRA would play a vital role in the continued socio- economic development of the country and have a huge impact on the wider West African sub-region” he emphasized.
He assured consumers of a new commitment to power the economy, bring value to lives and raise the living standards of the people.