Vice President Kwesi Amissah-Arthur has called on power utility operators in Africa to ensure that energy development on the continent keeps pace with increasing public demand for power.
He said over the last decade power consumption in Africa has increased three times more than the rate of its capacity growth.
Vice President Amissah-Arthur said this at the opening of the 2016 Annual Meeting of the Association of Power Utilities of Africa (APUA) in Accra.
The four-day conference which is the 50th Annual Meeting of the Association is being attended by all the 56 African Power Utility Operators as well as foreign organizations in the power sector.
This year’s meeting on the theme: “Energy development through customer management, revenue collection and energy efficiency”, is being jointly hosted by the Volta River Authority (VRA), GRIDCO and the Electricity Company of Ghana (ECG).
It is expected that the conference would bring together the continent’s power utility operators to exchange ideas and seek to improve the operations of this critical sector.
Vice President Amissah-Arthur said the increasing energy gap on the continent does not only have implications for economic growth but progress in the social sector, education, health, tourism among others.
He called for a comprehensive approach in developing the various energy sources by embracing thermal, hydro and renewables.
He said the power utility operators must recognize that customer expectations keep rising and that reliable and affordable power is very important to them.
Vice President Amissah-Arthur called for regular customer engagement adding that an open and constructive dialogue between customers and the service providers was very important.
He said tariffs charged by the power utility operators should be affordable since large segments of the populations on the continent cannot afford to pay economic tariffs.
He said the tariffs charge should go hand in hand with appropriate collection mechanisms that contribute to conservation and efficiency in resource use.
Vice President Amissah-Arthur also announced that in line with National Energy strategy, government has put in place mechanisms to ensure that by 2020 there would be universal access to electricity.
He said government is also taking the needed initiatives to ensure a drastic reduction in technical and commercial losses by improving system infrastructure and through regulatory enforcements.
Mr Kirk Koffie, Chief Executive of the VRA, said APUA was established to promote development and integration of African power systems through network interconnections, exchange of experiences and knowledge as well as pulling of energy in a win-win approach for all.
He said the power sector in most part of the continent is confronted with challenges including low accessibility, insufficient capacity, poor reliability and high tariff.
He said Ghana in the past three years has had its fair share of the energy problems and that to avert future reoccurrence the country is pursuing various rehabilitations and expansion programmes on the generation, transmission and distribution infrastructure as each segment has responsibility to add value to the industry
Mr Kirk Koffie said as service providers’ customer satisfaction should the hallmark of their performance.
He expressed the hope that at the end of the conference the participants would have been able to identify strategies critical for the successful development of the energy sector as well as effective engagement with their customers to improve revenue collection and enhance energy efficiency.