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Chinese investment eases water & power shortages


Ghana has one of the strongest economies in West Africa, but many of its cities and towns have been suffering from water and power shortages for years. A growing number of Chinese investors are now cooperating with local enterprises and governments, in projects which have largely eased the shortages.

Jafar Nasir Larri is a driver, living with his family in the Matina district of Ghana’s capital Accra. Jafar’s and 5 other families share this yard. Most of the women stay at home, looking after the children and preparing meals. Jafar says most Ghanaian families in this area have big water tanks, because they don’t have tap water yet and have to rely on mobile water trucks.

"First we are having difficulty in having water, and the quality was not good at all. Now since the completion of the government water supply project, the water quality was greatly improved, and the changing of the water price is now a little bit," Accra resident Jafar Nasir Larri said.

Jafar says a generator is also necessary, because the electricity is always cut off for half the day.

"It switches sometimes. It used to come day, sometimes it comes at night. It is balancing," Larri said.

In order to address these shortages, the Ghanaian government has worked on attracting foreign investors.

The government and the Export-Import Bank of China co-funded the Kapong Water supply expansion project. It was built by China’s Gezhouba Group.

After 4 years' construction, the project’s Phase One was handed over to the local water plant this February. It's the largest water supply project in the country.

"This is the water-intake of the Kapong project. The raw water is pumped through here to the water plant. There are 4 pumps here. Each day’s water-intake capacity is around 200-thousand tons," Zhou Jiangtao, manager of Gezhouba Kapong Water Supply Expansion Project, said.

ABP Consult Company also participated in the project. Chief Executive Albert Ogyiri says it's largely relieved the water shortage for over 3 million residents in Accra and people are looking forward to Phase Two.

"In Accra at the moment, the city is expanding and growing at a very fast pace. So the water supply has to catch up with the pace, otherwise the prove that has been made in Phase One will not be felt anymore, because there will be more people who demand water. so phase two is what we are eagerly waiting and we are hoping that will be done as early as possible," Albert Ogyiri, chief executive of ABP Cousult Ltd., said.

There's also a growing number of Chinese companies investing in Ghana’s power projects, including hydro and natural gas power plants.Sunon Asogli Power is the largest natural gas fuel power plant. It's a joint venture of China’s Shenzhen Energy Group and the China-Africa Development Fund. It was established in 2007 and started commercial operation in 2010, with a 200 MW power capacity.In addition to around 15% of the total power supply contribution to Ghana in 2014, CEO Li Xiaohai says his company has more to offer.

"First, we provide Ghana with power; second, we have trained and cultivated many talents in power technology, and offer good experience in management for local power plants, because compared with them, our plant is much more stable and reliable. So we have brought the technology and experience they need," Li Xiaohai, chairman of Sunon Asogli Power, said.

With the second phase of Sunon Asogli to supply another 360 Megawatts of electricity, the company is also planning to invest more in other clean energy projects.

The Sunon Asogli’s Phase Two project is expected to be finished around the middle of next year. In addition to this natural gas power plant, the company also plans to invest in a coal-fired plant and a wind farm project in the next few years. These projects are expected to provide a safe, stable and affordable power supply to the Ghanaian people, and bring the power cooperation between China and Ghana into a higher level.

"And I believe that shows the cordiality of the cooperation between the government of Ghana and the government of the People ’s Republic of China. But also more importantly, it showcases the quality of Chinese investment in Ghana, and very receptive investment climate we have here. Sunon Asoli is one of those companies that I am proud of in the power sector," Ghanaian Minister of Power Dr. Kwabena Donkor said.

Ghana’s fast economic growth will require more infrastructure supply like power and water. And many Chinese investors are seeking to relocate their production lines and technologies in Ghana. Both sides believe Ghanaian people will benefit from the growing production capacity cooperation between the two countries in the future.