Using digitalisation to address West Africa power grid challenges

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Canadian digital sensor company Awesense has teamed up with Ghanaian engineering firm Arthur Energy Advisors (AEA) to address power grid challenges in Ghana and Sierra Leone.

The two companies teamed up to conduct a joint grid modernisation project with the Electricity Company of Ghana (ECG) to optimise critical industrial operational areas in Accra and Team. These are the two most densely populated areas in Ghana.

Andrew Yagűe, Awesense strategic alliance and business development manager, said their investigative focus was on revenue protection in ECG’s highest consuming industrial areas. “The key areas of concern identified were the high levels of losses, in particular incidences of electricity theft, among industrial consumers whose premises are metered with smart metering infrastructure,” explained Yagűe.

He pointed out ECG are moving forward with various modernisation initiatives across various customer groups and segments of their power grid. The AEA Awesense partnership helped ECG to determine key areas to focus on and develop the appropriate guidelines and activities to support ongoing loss reduction activities.

AEA uses Awesense’s digital energy platform (which energy providers can use to access applications to leverage their systems data) for their customers in West Africa.

“The effort to optimise ECG’s distribution grid is a multifaceted one. Together with Arthur Energy Advisors, our part has been to help ECG identify data-driven trends that enable prioritisation of the highest benefit interventions to reduce losses while generating the great possible bang for ECG’s investment,” said Yagűe.

Digitalisation key to improving power grid

In Sierra Leone, the partnership worked with public utility Electricity Distribution and Supply Authority. This is part of a wider project funded by the US Millennium Challenge Corporation through the Millennium Challenge Coordinating Unit in Sierra Leone.

For EDSA, selected sections of the distribution network in the most customer and population-dense parts of the company’s Freetown network were analysed. This was done to identify both areas and to catalogue the specific incidences and causes of the various losses being encountered.

Yagűe said several significant opportunities were identified for infrastructure and internal operational process improvements that would help EDSA improve its operational efficiency. “The opportunity areas include losses, metering, quality of service improvements to customers, staff skills upgrades, energy accounting, billing and payment improvements,” he explained.

Jabesh Amissah-Arthur, from Arthur Energy Advisors partner, said they believe creating a digital layer to the business is integral to the immediate and long-term continued improvement of energy systems in West Africa.

“In order to future-proof power grids, organisations will need as much information as they can get. The ability to gain insights and act on them swiftly is key to making self-sustaining investment plans and ultimately delivering more efficient, reliable and competitively-priced electricity services to customers,” said Amissah-Arthur.