VRA raises Ghana’s flag high
There is no doubt that the Volta River Authority (VRA), Ghana’s flagship public utility company
has become one of most highly respected and well-known energy producing company worldwide
because of its efficiency.
The company’s great sense of ingenuity, professionalism and technical competence transcended
beyond the borders of Ghana thus opening opportunities for the export of its services.
In short VRA is placing Ghana on the map of international trade as far as the tertiary sector is
Following, a recent accomplished success in restoring electricity to the people of Liberia, the
Authority’s recognition has received another boost with many commendations that it continued to
earn from countries, especially in the West African sub-region and other parts of Africa.
The Authority has received among others, invitations from the governments of Sierra Leone and
Guinea to assist them in restructuring their electricity sub-sector. Some of the countries have
requested even for management contract with the VRA and other auxiliary services of power
generation and distribution. This is how far VRA has reached in its 47 years of service.
VRA was established in 1961 to build at that time what was regarded as Ghana’s largest
development project: the hydroelectric dam across the Volta River at Akosombo. Since the
project’s completion in 1965, VRA has operated the dam, selling electric power to Ghana’s
electricity company, an aluminium smelter, and neighbouring countries.
It is a well-run state company that cares for its employees, providing housing, transportation,
education, and health care. The VRA is closely connected with the legacy of resettlement and the
construction of modern, model townships.
In the early 1960s, the VRA resettled 70,000 people into 52 towns in the Volta Basin; some fifteen
years later, when the smaller Kpong Dam was built, the VRA created another six towns. It also
owns and administers two modern townships erected for the workers and engineers who built the
dams: Akosombo and Akuse Township.
Commenting on VRA’s international recognition, Major General Francis Adu-Amanfro, Ghana’s
Ambassador to Liberia during the official closing ceremony to commemorate Ghana’s
participation in the Emergency Power Programme (EPP) in Monrovia said: “the interest
demonstrated by Ghana speaks of us and the kind of expertise in Ghana as well as making
Ghana a shining star in Africa.”
The Liberians, he said: “Initially doubted that the VRA officials could execute the job and even
meet the deadline of July 26, 2006 and bring light to Monrovia as promised by their President.
“But the joy of the first day of light in Congo Town in Monrovia is now a memory that many
Liberians will cherish for a long time.
“Today any one who visits Monrovia would not only see the restoration of life in the people and
businesses as a result of the electricity provided, but would also hear that the VRA has become a
household name especially in the LEC.”
In appreciation to what VRA did in Monrovia, Ghana's historic participation in the restoration of
electricity was climaxed at a colourful ceremony. The gratitude to Ghana and, in particular, to the
officials of the VRA, was echoed in various speeches at the ceremony as well as at other
functions held to host the Ghanaian delegation in Liberia.
The Liberian Vice President, Joseph Nyumah Boakai said: "The VRA has done a splendid job not
only in installing new power generators and new distribution lines, but also providing the
manpower required for the Liberian Electricity Company (LEC) staff."
He said, two years ago when the Liberian President, Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf promised to bring
back electricity in six months, little did she knew that the task was a daunting one, but hope was
uplifted when President John Agyekum Kufuor promised to help and appointed VRA as the
Vice President Boakai said the 14 years of civil war left Liberia in total ruins, as electricity
equipment from transmission to distribution lines were completely destroyed in Monrovia and
other parts of the country.
“Monrovia was indeed a dark city for many years, and now we have to rebuild everything from
scratch," he said and noted that power had been restored through the concerted effort of a
people (Ghana) that was committed and loving.
"This is truly a relationship with a meaning. Thank you for the African spirit of brotherhood. In fact
VRA has become another regional example in the area of cooperation," he said.
The first phase of the Emergency Power Programme, comprised the procurement, design and
installation of four new diesel-generating sets with a total capacity of 3.3 megawatts. About 45
Ghanaians worked directly on the construction works in Monrovia with about 200 people in
Ghana responsible for the engineering design, planning, logistics, consolidation and packaging of
distribution materials and equipment used for the project.
Ghana’s Deputy Minister of Energy, Mr. Kwame Amporfo-Twumasi, who led a delegation to
witness the closing ceremony in Monrovia, said the EPP I has created the platform for growth of
the Liberian power sector and commended the Liberian government for initiating the development
of a new energy policy.
He said Ghana was ever ready to lend its support in engineering, training and strategic policy to
Liberia as it made efforts to rebuild its hydroelectric station, which was totally destroyed during
A visit to the country hydro power station, called the ‘Mount Coffee Hydroelectric Station’ by the
Ghanaian delegation showed that the plant has to be rebuilt with experts putting the cost at 250
Mr Amporfo-Twumasi said: "Ghana stands ready to share the lessons from our National
Electrification Programme, and the Rural and Self-Help Electrification Programmes as well as our
power sector reforms that have, among other things led to the creation and institutionalisation of
The Deputy Minister urged the Liberian people to ensure that the beautiful ceremony lived
beyond its symbolism, saying: "May it remind all of us that, we have a duty to build upon what we
have started and a duty to protect these critical infrastructure that are very central to the
development and functional growth of any nation".
Dr. Eugene Shannon, Liberia's Minister of Energy, Lands and Mines, described Ghana's role as
an accomplishment, which carried with it a clear showpiece of building healthy relationship that
must be emulated by all to move the continent forward.
Mr Harry T. Yuah, Managing Director of the LEC, said the cooperation between the VRA and LEC
was widely known and appreciated by many in Liberia today.
The phase I of the EPP restored electricity to three main areas of the City of Monrovia, namely,
Congo, Kru and Paynesville Towns. VRA experts undertook the construction engineering for both
civil and electro-mechanical works as well as the responsibility for the implementation of the
The programme began in 2006, following an assurance by President John Agyekum Kufuor,
Ghana’s President to the Liberian Government to assist in her reconstruction programme
especially with the restoration of power.
At the sod-cutting ceremony for the project, Ghana News Agency's report from Monrovia quoted
President Sirleaf-Johnson as saying: "The three partners, Ghana, US, EC have stood with
Liberia, even in the thick and thin, during the difficult times of the conflict. And in our
reconstruction today they are the key partners to help us start our economic construction."
On July 26, 2006, which marked the country's independence anniversary, President Kufuor
visited Liberia and together with President Ellen Sirleaf-Johnson turned the lights on for the first
Government of Ghana with funding from the European Commission committed 3.1 million dollars
to the 7.2 million-dollar-project that covered two suburbs in Monrovia - Congo and Kru towns.
It is important to note that before the restoration of power, night Monrovia at was described as
place that sounded like a symphony from an orchestra of locomotive engines.
A GNA Feature by Lawrence Quartey