The Sahara Group, an energy conglomerate based primarily in Nigeria, has disclosed plans to build a 2,000 megawatt (MW) thermal plant in neighbouring West African country, Ghana, in order to improve the generation capacity of the country.

Sources indicate that talks have been held between the company’s Ghana office and the Volta River Authority (VRA). Since 2001 when the Nigerian company first lifted crude oil for the Tema Oil Refinery, the company had remained fully operational in Ghana. The company had also built the largest thermal plant in Nigeria.

“We just completed the plant in Nigeria. As it has been our trademark, we want to complete all the learning process before we replicate it here in Ghana,” a source said.

Indeed, the company prides itself on replicating successful Nigerian models in other countries. Through its subsidiary, it owns a 70 percent stake in Lagos’s Egbin thermal power plant with current generating capacity of about 1,320MW and planned expansion to 2,640MW. This is one such model the company aims to replicate in Ghana in the near future. The Egbin plant is Nigeria’s largest thermal power distributor.

A force to reckon with in the Nigerian power sector, the group also holds a 60 percent interest in the Ikeja Electricity Distribution Company, Nigeria’s largest power distributor, which delivers power to over 600,000 homes; a 70 percent stake in First Independent Power Ltd located in Rivers State, Nigeria, which comprises four power plants with total capacity of 721MW.

Based on this controlling interests, the Sahara Group is the single largest power producer in Africa’s largest economy, and has a solid track record justifying it’s spread to other geographies. It is expected that the Group would aim to also become the single largest producer of power in Ghana by leveraging its expertise and successes from Nigeria. In Ghana, the group has evolved from oil lifting to building retail outlets in strategic Ghanaian cities. It also runs the largest private sector build storage facility at Tema.

Ghana represents a number of pressing power challenges, but these may be opportunities for the Sahara group. Generally, power generation deficits fluctuate between 150MW and 250MW, and worsens when the plants breakdown or are shut down for routine maintenance.

The country’s heavy reliance on hydroelectric energy means that, just like in Nigeria, when water levels are low, power generation will be rather disappointing. Because of this, concerted efforts have been launched by the VRA and General Electric (GE) to develop projects that could add as much as 1,420MW of power to the national grid. GE expects to add 360 MW to the national grid by September, 2016.

By Emmanuel Iruobe

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