Saturday, July 29, 2017

Ghana 2017 - Day 24. Back to Accra via Akosombo reservoir

After the tough day we had yesterday the plan was to just loiter by the swimming pool until it was time for lunch and checking out. We did the loitering like real pros, believe me.

On our way back we once again crossed the Adomi Bridge, but then took a sharp right and headed upstream until we got to the village of Akosombo, which to this date remains a company town, under the control of the Volta River Authority. It is beautifully maintained, and even boasts its own luxury hotel (US$ 150 per night), with a restaurant that has a magnificent view of the Akosombo Dam. The dam was the most significant project of the administration of Ghana’s first president, Kwame Nkrumah, who clearly understood that the new country would need energy to develop. The new dam (built between 1961 to 1964) has an installed capacity of 1,000 Megawatts, and when it was inaugurated in 1964 (just a few months before the coup d’etat that unseated President Nkrumah), all of a sudden met all the electric needs of the new nation (80% to aluminum refining and 20% to consumers), with enough to spare to sell to Togo and Benin. Ghana added another 400 MW to its hydroelectric generating capacity in 2013, with the inauguration of the Bui dam, in the upper reaches of the Volta River.

The dam has two sections, both earth embankments. The main section is 115 m high and on its left abutment has the adjustable flow spillway, and on the right a power plant fed by six gigantic penstocks. The second section is just a dam embankment. The Volta Lake impounded behind the dam is the second largest man-made lake in the world, with an area of 8,502 km2, and a volume of approximately 120 million acre-ft (148 km3). Of course the inundation of such a large area required flooding of fertile lands and relocation of several thousands of people, so there is no lack of critics.

In any case, it was a pivotal project in the modern history of Ghana, and I am glad I had a chance to see it, even from a distance.

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