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The State Of The Akosombo Dam

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NEWS COMMENTARY ON THE STATE OF THE AKOSOMBO DAM AND THE WAY FORWARD

The fact that the Akosombo hydroelectric dam is a strategic national asset cannot be discounted.

Built-in 1965 at the cost of 130 million dollars, the rock-filled dam has helped greatly in the industrial development of the country and is currently considered as the cheapest source of power in Ghana.

With an initial installed capacity of 912 megawatts and subsequently increased to one thousand and 20 megawatts after retrofitting, the Akosombo dam has faithfully served the country and met its power needs with an excess generation being supplied to neighbouring countries.

Initially, the dam supplied electricity to the Valco Aluminium Smelter at Tema.

The construction of the dam flooded parts of the Volta River basin and led to the subsequent creation of the Volta Lake which serves as a fishing source to many people.

Recently water in the dam fell drastically below operating levels due to poor rainfall thereby affecting electricity supply to the country leading to what has now become known as Dumsor.

This compelled the then government to resort to the use of power barges to supplement electricity generation.

Thankfully ‘today’, water in the Akosombo dam has stabilised rising to normal levels.

A recent publication by an Accra daily quoting the Director of Climate Tracker, an environmental group, Christ Wright alleging that an average lifespan of a hydro dam is 50 years.

The publication was very disturbing given the fact that the Akosombo Dam is more than 50 years.

Mr. Wright in an interview argued that after 50 years the quality of the water in the dam becomes so poor that it puts the surrounding communities downstream at risk. In such circumstances, the only option left is to decommission the dam.

In this regard, the Ghana Journalists Association in collaboration with the Volta River Authority sent some journalists on a tour of the Akosombo dam to verify things for themselves.

On the tour, the Director of Hydro of VRA, Ken Arthur debunked the allegations by Mr. Wright saying a dam can last hundreds of years provided it is maintained regularly.

According to him, the Akosombo dam has one of the best maintenance schedules globally.

These are at times performed by foreign experts to guarantee its structural integrity.

Also, the dam has been retrofitted to suit present demands.

He said the independent dam review report gives Akosombo a clean bill of health and shows no sign of collapsing.

Whatever it is, VRA has an onerous obligation to ensure that the Akosombo dam lives longer to recoup the investments made in it.

As the largest man-made lake in terms of surface area, the Akosombo Dam is a national relic and must be safeguarded.

It is trite knowledge that hydroelectricity is cleaner energy and a more preferable and renewable source than thermal.

Government must do well to build more of such dams to increase the country energy sources.

It is good dams like Bui and Kpong have been added to the country’s stock of dams since Akosombo was constructed.

With the country’s rapid growth and industrialisation drive, we need more energy sources for accelerated development.

The Ghana Journalists Association and VRA must not rest on their oars but intensify education on such sensitive issues like power generation.

This will equip the media and public to counter any misinformation that can ignite fear and panic as far as hydropower generation is concerned in the country.

BY JUSTICE MINGLE, A JOURNALIST.

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