Ghana is trying to become a greener society.
The world’s 10th fastest growing economy aims to source half of its electricity from renewable energy by 2021 and plans to reduce carbon emissions by 3.1 percent each year through 2030.
The endeavor may pay off in long-term terms and create jobs for Ghanaians and help protect the environment at the same time.
One company that aims to help the Ghanaian government get into the game is General Electric (GE). It is building new wind farms in the Ghanaian countryside and training local workers on advanced technologies.
“As an African company, we see a lot of growth opportunities in Africa,” Vice President and President of GE’s Africa operations, Ed Joyner told Fox News. “We see the Ghanaian economy is fairly robust. It’s got a lot of moving parts that need to be involved in the value chain. Wind is one of them.”
Ghana is not the only African country investing in wind energy. Others include the Democratic Republic of Congo, Uganda, the Central African Republic, Niger, Guinea, Gabon, Nigeria, Mauritania, Uganda, Madagascar, Sierra Leone, Zambia, Togo, Mozambique, Democratic Republic of Congo and Nigeria.
South Africa is also increasing renewable energy use. According to its latest GDP report, the country produced 270 billion kilowatt hours of electricity in 2017 — a number expected to grow by 2020.
But current wind farms are largely inadequate. Power in some parts of the country is 2,000 kwh an hour. Average household power consumption is approximately 5,000 kwh. Ghanaian officials have projected the country’s renewable energy consumption will grow to 2,500 kwh by 2030.
“The truth is, without wind, you can have solar and standstill wind, but wind provides you most of the demand,” said Joyner.
The biggest challenge Ghana faces is a severe shortage of natural gas. Without it, developing renewable energy is almost impossible. Ghana will need to rely on expensive diesel and oil to boost its power capacity.
“We will be working with Ghana and we’ll help them to import gas from neighboring countries,” said Joyner.
The only area where GE has opened a solar-driven power plant is in Ivory Coast, but that is an exception.
“We have announced our first wind farm in Ghana and it is being built in the verdant countryside near the capital, Accra,” Joyner said.
The project is the first of its kind in Ghana, but the industry is changing quickly. By the end of next year, GE plans to build new projects in the United States, Nigeria, Kenya, South Africa, Tanzania, Zambia, Mozambique, Ivory Coast, Ghana, the Central African Republic, Niger, Mali, Guinea, Senegal, South Sudan, Sierra Leone, Chad, Kenya, Uganda, Cote d’Ivoire, Malawi, Ivory Coast, Zambia, Uganda, Madagascar, Lesotho, Zambia, Namibia, Zimbabwe and Angola.
Since the first renewable energy plant was built in 1985, GE has created nearly 200,000 U.S. jobs, and it plans to hire nearly 40,000 more by 2023.
Joyner says his goal is “helping the government transform into a green, electric economy, job opportunity, sustainable growth economy.”