The Advent of the Coronavirus Pandemic
The Coronavirus disease has affected the whole world and Ghana has not been left out. According to the World Health Organisation, the first case of the coronavirus (COVID-19) was recorded in Wuhan City, China, in December 2019. Since this pandemic is widespread globally through human to human transmission and the health and welfare of workers are utmost concerns, most companies have had to reduce their workforce at their workplace through several ways such as retrenchment, shift system and remote working to enhance social distancing protocols to prevent or control the spread of the disease.
Sunon Asogli Power (Ghana) Limited, as the first, the largest and the most successful Independent Power Producer in Ghana, has had to make a lot of adjustments during this pandemic period to ensure continuous generation and supply of power to the national grid with the ultimate aim to boost the socio-economic development of the country. Management, as part of its plans to prevent any of its employees and other personnel working in the power plant to contract the deadly disease and achieve the stated aim, preconceived and implemented strategic safety measures even before the country started her lockdown in certain parts of the country.
Safety Measures Implemented by Management during the Pandemic Period
Just after Ghana recorded two (2) imported cases of COVID-19 on March 12, 2020, Management:
- Placed restrictions on the movement of workers and other personnel within the confines of the company.
- Provided nose masks to workers and ensured the compulsory wearing of nose mask by workers and other personnel within the confines of the company.
- Provided alcohol-based hand sanitizers to workers and ensured the usage of hand sanitizers by workers and other personnel within the confines of the company.
- Provided ‘veronica buckets’ at all entrances of the company and ensured compulsory washing of hands by workers and other personnel within the confines of the company.
- Placed personnel at all entrances of the company to check the temperature of workers and other personnel within the confines of the company.
By March 27, 2020, Management asked its non-resident staff to stay at home, with some having to work from home. It is worth noting that Management has ensured continuous salary payment to these non-resident staff till date irrespective of the impact of the pandemic on the company.
Again, Management made the necessary arrangement with its contract service providers (kitchen staff, drivers, cleaners, construction workers, securities etc.) to make available some of their workers to stay with the resident staff to begin the internal lockdown to ensure continuous power generation for the good people of Ghana. To ensure compliance, safety and security of workers under lockdown at all times, Management provided extra surveillance CCTV cameras and floodlights at vantages and also instituted unique staff card to control the movement of workers within the confines of the company. Also, the safety department organised sensitisation programs about the dangers of COVID-19 and the necessary safety protocols needed to be observed to stay safe at all times. Due to the effective safety protocols instituted by Management, the company has recorded zero case of the deadly disease to date, which is a remarkable achievement.
It must be emphasised that Management has done everything possible albeit expensive to ensure the safety as well as the comfort of staff through the provisions of all the necessary personal protective equipment, three-square meals and snacks, the introduction of COVID -19 bonus for all staff under lockdown, no contact delivery services, and the provision of entertainment & health facilities to preserve the physical and mental health of its employees.
Employee Commitment to Work during the Pandemic Period
It is often said that a society that does not recognise the efforts of its heroes is not worth dying for, in that, experiences like that of the staff in Sunon Asogli during this pandemic period must be commended. When the time came for the local staff to once again show their commitment to the company and their country, Ghana, they rose to the occasion.
The company’s residence host staff, some of whom had left the comfort of their homes and loved ones to stay at the plant’s premises to ensure the successful running of the plant. The lockdown that begun in the latter part of March is currently in its fifth month.
Their hard work and sacrifice made it possible for the company to continuously produce and supply power for the nation’s consumption and also ensured that the company recorded its highest production figures in June and July, respectively.
MONTH TOTAL GENERATION TOTAL DELIVERED
JUNE 360.054 GWh 349.593 GWh
JULY 379.929 GWh 366.152 GWh
From the onset of the lockdown, both management and the workforce were aware that the measures put in place are temporary and at a point in time Ghanaian staff under lockdown must return to their loved ones. Accordingly, it was agreed that a survey is conducted to seek the views of staff on when the lockdown should be lifted. The outcome spoke volumes of the never-ending commitment from Ghanaian staff who unanimously voted to sacrifice two more months in lockdown. Not only has the power plant benefited from their unwavering loyalty and commitment, but the energy sector and the entire Ghanaian populace.
Corporate Social Responsibilities during the Pandemic Period
As a socially responsible organisation aware of the gravity of the coronavirus disease, the company once again showed its commitment to the Ghanaian people through corporate social responsibilities, right from the National level through to the host community. A responsive donation of $100,000.00 was made through Chairman Yang and Togbe Afede XIV, a director of the company, to the COVID -19 Fund set up by H.E. the President of the Republic of Ghana. Separate donations of a great number of disinfectants, as well as other PPEs, were made to the Ministry of Energy, Ho Regional Hospital, Kpone -Katamanso Municipal Assembly, Kpone Traditional council, Ghana National Fire Service, the district electoral office in Kpone just to mention a few.
Also, thanks to the strategic partnership with GRIDCo, the company was able to commission a 330/161kV Interconnecting auto-transformer worth US$5.4Milliion in April. The project was necessary to provide flexibility in system operation by enabling power transfer between the 161kV and 330kV networks; thereby ensuring stable and reliable transmission of power. This shows our commitment and support to the country’s energy sector as this project will further make about 1500GWh of electricity available per year to the Ghana National Grid.
Investment in Renewable Energy
Sunon Asogli Power (Ghana) Limited, moving forward, has positioned itself to align with the long-term energy goals of the sub-region, and for that matter, Ghana. The company has started investing in renewable energy – wind and solar energy – with other forms of renewable energy coming soon, through its SEC West Africa Development Unit, established in 2014 by Shenzhen Energy (the parent company) and located in Ghana.
For instance, a feasibility study for our wind energy project in Ada has been completed. However, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the company has had to put this project on hold and also pending further approval from the government of Ghana to continue the project. Moreover, the company has completed the first phase of 800KW solar energy project in the power plant for operation. This project has increased our production capacity of safe and clean energy with the first phase injecting 265KW of electricity to the national grid.
This falls in line with the Sustainable Development Goals and Government of Ghana’s renewable energy agenda to secure and increase future energy security by diversifying sources of supply, including increasing access to renewable energy technologies to achieve 10% penetration in terms of installed capacity by 2030 and to contribute to the goal of reducing the cost of electricity supply to rural areas. Also, taking cognizance of the numerous health, environmental and climate hazards fossil fuel poses, the company is committed to harnessing Ghana’s renewable energy resources which are amenable to the environment to continue to keep the generation mix clean, generate essential public health benefits, reduce oil dependence, provide jobs and reduce the cost of electricity.