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Ghana's energy minister hopes to encourage investment on China trip

Ghana's minister for energy and petroleum hopes to encourage new investment in the country's energy sector during an official visit to China, according to a government statement. 

Emmanuel Armah-Kofi Buah, who left Accra for China at the weekend, is meeting important figures in China’s energy industry in a bid to expand existing Chinese involvement in Ghana’s power supply and woo new power producers.

Ghana’s Ministry for Energy and Petroleum said Buah would hold talks with firms including the Shenzhen Energy Group Company Ltd, the parent company of Sunon Asogli Power (Ghana) Ltd.

“The construction of a coal-fired power plant in Ghana is also high on the agenda at the meeting with Shenzhen Energy,” the ministry said in a statement

Buah will visit the Heyuan coal-fired plant in Guangdong province – a joint venture between a subsidiary of Hopewell Holdings and Shenzhen Energy. Hopewell says the plant, the first in China to be equipped with a flue gas desulphurisation wastewater treatment system, is “one of the province's most efficient and environmentally-friendly coal-fired power plants”.

In addition, Buah will hold talks with Hunan Electric Power (HEP) on proposals to build a 500-megawatt (MW) combined-cycle plant in Ghana’s Western Region. The talks will follow-up on proposals announced by Ghana in October 2013, following high-level talks with HEP and the Hunan Construction Engineering Group Corporation.

Representatives of the Electricity Company of Ghana Ltd and the county’s Volta River Authority are accompanying Buah on his visit, which will include tours of electricity generating plants in the special economic zones of Shanghai and Shenzhen.

Buah said recently that around 90% of communities in Ghana will be connected to the national grid by 2016.

Africa expert Akshai Fofaria of Pinsent Masons, the law firm behind Out-Law, said that Chinese investment in Ghanian power infrastructure would be welcome.

In August 2013, the minister told a visiting Chinese delegation that Ghana was on course to achieve its 5,000 MW domestic power generation target by 2016. The country was also poised to achieve gas-based generation for 80% of the country’s thermal power plants by 2015, the minister said.

"The challenge with the Ghanaian power sector has been the difficulty of being able to finance independent power projects at tariff rates which are economic for private funders, particularly given the cost of fuel, and the resulting need for government subsidies," he said. "The possibility of Chinese investment into the sector may help to solve the government's dilemma."

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