The West Africa Power Pool (WAPP) in collaboration with the Volta River Authority (VRA) is holding a Solar Renewable Energy Training and Certification Programme at the VRA Academy in Akuse in the Eastern Region.
The week-long capacity building and certification programme funded by the World Bank is on the theme “Maintenance and Performance Monitoring of Solar Energy Generation Facilities”.
It is being attended by 24 participants drawn from the ECOWAS subregion; of which eight are from Anglophone countries – Ghana, Nigeria, Liberia, Sierra Leone and the Gambia, while the remaining 16 are from Francophone countries-Burkina Faso, the Ivory Coast, Senegal and Niger.
The programme is a professional qualification certification that will be recognised by all key players in the electricity sector in West Africa.
Mr Emmanuel Antwi-Darkwa, Chief Executive Officer (CEO), VRA, in a speech read on his behalf, said the programme was a component of the West Africa Solar Park Development Project, which aims at supporting a harmonised and systematic regional approach to scaling up competitive and large-scale production, drawing on private capital, with the view to reducing the cost of electricity, through the operation, maintenance and monitoring of the performance of solar generation facilities and increase the part solar plays in the energy mix.
He said the overall objective of the training and certification programmes being implemented at the designated WAPP Centres of Excellence was to have a pool of experts capable of carrying out the preparation, implementation, operation and maintenance of solar energy production facilities in ECOWAS Member countries.
He said the programme would enable participants to acquire additional knowledge and return to their various workplaces with broadened capacities and horizons to advance the course of operational efficiency, which had become the hallmark of power utilities in the subregion.
Mr Antwi-Darkwa lauded the World Bank and WAPP for the initiative, which would contribute to the large-scale deployment of solar renewable energy in West Africa.
Mr Antwi-Darkwa said the capacity building programme was the fruit of the innovation and forward-looking initiative taken as a result of the recommendation of the Human Resources Study Committee of the Association of Power Utilities of Africa (APUA) about a decade ago.
“Renewable development has gained traction in the power industry especially in these days of emphasis on climate change. The West Africa subregion cannot be left out,” he said.
“We anticipate large scale development of utility scale solar projects in particular, in the coming years. The foresight to develop the capacity to maintain these solar facilities by WAPP/APUA is laudable as it will put the power utilities in the WAPP area at the forefront of mitigating the effects of climate change.”
He said in the last three and a half years, the VRA had adopted an innovative and business re-oriented strategy of BRAISE, an acronym, that represented their desire to Build, nurture and develop their human capital; Restore their finance; Advance internal and external business process; Improve operational and project implementation efficiencies; Sustain their position as market leaders; and Ensure development in a sustainable manner.
Mr Kignsley Gyamfi, Acting Chief Learning Officer, VRA, said over the years, the VRA Academy had partnered and collaborated effectively with the WAPP to train Member States of the Regional body.
Dr Stella Agyenim-Boateng, Deputy CEO in-charge of Services, in an interview with the Ghana News Agency, said the VRA Academy had been certified as a Centre of Excellence and, therefore, for all the training programmes to certify and to upscale persons in the electricity centre, the Academy had always come up as one of the top locations for the trainings.