GRIDCo to use assets for telecom services (Sept 27, 2013) pg 20

Mr Samuel Jinapor(2nd left), the deputy minister of Energy, addressing members of the GRIDCO Board at their annual general meeting in Accra. Those with him on the dais are Mr Emmanuel Appiah Korang (2nd right), Chairman of the GRIDCO Board, Mr Suraj Omoro(left), Director, Network Performance, and Mrs Monica Senanu, Board Secretary, both of GRIDCO. Picture: EMMNAUEL BAAHMr Samuel Jinapor(2nd left), the deputy minister of Energy, addressing members of the GRIDCO Board at their annual general meeting in Accra. Those with him on the dais are Mr Emmanuel Appiah Korang (2nd right), Chairman of the GRIDCO Board, Mr Suraj Omoro(left), Director, Network Performance, and Mrs Monica Senanu, Board Secretary, both of GRIDCO. Picture: EMMNAUEL BAAHThe government has given approval for the Ghana Grid Company (GRIDCo) to use its transmission assets to carry out general commercial telecommunication and other related services.

This means that the GRIDCo’s transmission towers, spread across the country, could become useful as telecom cell sites.

The company’s fibre optic cables that are used in managing its systems could also be made available for Internet services.

Last year, the shareholders - the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning and the Ministry of Energy- declined to amend the mandate of the company to include telecom services with fears that it could distract its core operations.

While endorsing the project at the fourth annual general meeting (AGM) of the company in Accra, officials of the two shareholders urged the company to concentrate its energy on its core mandate- transmission services.

But the board chairman of GRIDCo, Mr Emmanuel Appiah Korang, said the company had been approached by other companies that had the technology to develop the GRIDCo towers to cell sites.

“We ourselves are not going to do that; we have been approached by companies who have the technology and can do this to improve communication in the country for everyone, but at the same time, GRIDCo would also earn some revenue,” he said.

With telecommunication companies struggling to meet the quality of service standards because of their inability to cover the entire country, the GRIDCo board chairman said, “If we play our role well, we can enhance Internet connectivity throughout the country because our transmission lines go everywhere and this is one area we are looking at to earn extra income.”

Having obtained the approval of the shareholders, the board chairman said the next action was to do due diligence and conduct some researches since every tower could not be used for the purpose.

Performance

While the GRIDCo transmitted 11,587 gigawatt hours of energy in 2012 compared to 10,800 gigawatt hours in 2011, the company’s end of year after tax profit stood at GH¢7,039, 000, as against GH¢833,851,000 in 2011.

The huge difference in profit between 2011 and 2012 was because in 2011, the company did not pay tax on its income but had to do so in 2012.

Mr Korang said the implementation of the company’s corporate strategies and a five-year investment plan in the last three to four years, had helped to set it on the path of modernisation and expansion of its transmission infrastructure.

He said the company had initiated a $20 million substation upgrade project which would be handled by Ghanaian contractors as part of its local content drive.

Projections

According to GRIDCo projections, demand for energy in the country was expected to jump from 1728.9 megawatts in 2012 to 2,106 megawatts in 2013 because of emerging spot loads including Newmont New Abirem gold mining operations and Sentuo Steel Limited.

On-going network expansion works and improvement in the quality of distribution service by the Electricity Company of Ghana (ECG) and the Northern Electricity Distribution Company are also expected to culminate in an increase of domestic customers.

With the country recovering from an epileptic power supply mainly as a result of the challenges from the West Africa Gas Pipeline, Mr Suraj Omoro Amadu, the GRIDCo Director of Network Performance said in spite of the difficulties, GRIDCo made some giant strides.

In the period under review, he listed a number of projects that had been completed including a new system control centre and network improvement studies. Mr Amadu read the Chief Executive’s statement.

A deputy Minister of Energy and Petroleum, Mr John Abu Jinapor, said the government appreciated GRIDCo’s impressive profit, in spite of its challenges.

He, however, urged the company to work harder and pay dividend to the government since no investor would pump funds into a project that would not yield profit.

Writer’s email: seth.bokpe@graphic.com.gh

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