A GNA feature by Yaw Ansah
Accra, Dec. 29, GNA - The electrical installation services sector in Ghana has witnessed a major transformation. This follows the BUSAC Fund’s supported advocacy action embarked upon by the Ghana Electrical Contractors Association (GECA) for the enforcement of the provisions in the Legislative Instrument (L.I. 1816) on electricity supply and distribution rules.
The non-compliance of this regulation over the years was crippling the business of electrical contractors and was one of the major causes of fire outbreaks in the country, especially at state-owned facilities.
Another issue that bedevilled the sector was the decline in business opportunities available to members because of the infiltration of the market by uncertified electrical contractors.
This situation badly dented the credibility of the profession, thus reducing public confidence in the services of electrical contractors.
However, as result of GECA’s advocacy action supported by the BUSAC Fund and its development partners – DANIDA, USAID and the EU, now all electrical contractors are trained and certified by the Energy Commission and as evidence, the names of members, the town and regions in which they operate, contacts as well as the certification category - be it industrial or domestic - have been published on the website of the Commission.
Mr. Joseph B. Walker, President of GECA, speaking in an interview expressed satisfaction about the impressive response from government and its allied agencies and the steps that were taken to enforce regulations to sanitise the electrical sector.
He recalled that the Association, together with its consultants repeatedly visited various stakeholders including; AESL, Ghana Standard Authority (GSA) Energy Commission and Electricity Company of Ghana (ECG) to explain to them how the non-enforcement of the law was affecting their operation.
“The authorities heeded to our call and now our members all over the country have been trained and certified to undertake all forms of electrical wiring. As one of the conditions for individuals and companies to acquire an electrical meter, the Electricity Company of Ghana (ECG) requests to see that the wiring was done by a certified member of our association. This is helping to eliminate quack electrical contractors, while as expanding job opportunities for our members”, he noted.
Again, in September 2017, Dr. Alfred Ofosu Ahenkrah, Executive Secretary of the Energy Commission made the announcement that effective October 2017, property owners who failed to use the services of certified electrical wiring professionals will not be connected to the national electricity grid”.
GECA members also asserted that one other positive change emanating from the advocacy action is the separation of electrical works from concrete works during the award of contracts by government and its allied agencies in the country.
Having achieved an improved business environment for electrical contractors, members of GECA realised the need to upgrade their skills to enable them to execute more sophisticated and lucrative modern electrical installation projects that started springing up, particularly in the renewable energy sector.
The leadership of GECA realised that public patronage for solar energy was increasing steadily among domestic and industrial electrical power consumers, obviously due to the fact that it was more economical, while traditional hydro-electricity supply was becoming more expensive and erratic. However, many of their members lacked the technical capacity to exploit this huge economic opportunity.
“Naturally, this meant that there would be an increase in the demand for electrical contractors skilled in solar electricity equipment installation. This presented a huge opportunity for our members to exploit. But unfortunately, our members could not take advantage of the business opportunity because they lacked the skills needed to successfully work on modern solar electrical equipment”, Mr. Walker explained.
In order to address this capacity gap, the leadership of the association sought capacity building support from the Skills Development Fund in June 2014 to enable them upgrade the skills of their members in modern solar electrical systems installation.
The support enabled the leadership of GECA to train up to 1000 of their members across the country in solar PV systems installation, occupational health and safety measures and marketing strategies.
Today, thanks to the support of SDF and their development partners, DANIDA, The World Bank and Government of Ghana, members of GECA are benefitting immensely from the acquisition of those modern solar technology skills.
Mr. Joseph B. Walker pointed out that as result of the solar electrical installation skills training, many of their members are able to install different kinds of solar electric equipment for both domestic and industrial clients, and this is helping their members to increase their client-base and incomes, to the extent that the average revenues of their members has increased by about 70 per cent.
“Nowadays, our members are installing modern solar PV systems to the satisfaction of their clients. Our members are also integrating occupational safety measures and marketing skills into their electrical contracting businesses, and this is making them more profitable”, the president remarked.
With their members now abreast with new knowledge on solar panel installation and maintenance, electrical contractors belonging to GECA are growing their businesses, with a bright future on the horizons.