Unreliable electricity is a major drag on economic growth in Ghana, accounting for as much as a 2-3 percent loss in annual GDP growth. To address the issue, the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) is investing approximately $500 million USD in grid quality in Ghana through the ECG Financial and Operational Turnaround (EFOT) Project. It is critical that effective monitoring and evaluation strategy is employed to measure the impact of these infrastructure improvements on the reliability and quality of the grid.
In 2017-2018, MCC partnered with UC Berkeley researchers Catherine Wolfram, Prabal Dhutta, and the “GridWatch” team to pilot novel technologies that crowdsource information on grid reliability through smartphones (GridWatch), fixed-point sensors, and existing cellular networks. The pilot (GridWatch Phase I), which concluded in 2018, demonstrated that the low-cost technology can answer critical questions about the length and location of outages, and whether new infrastructure led to improvements in power reliability and availability. In 2019, impressed by the pilot and the proof of concept for a scalable grid monitoring system, the MCC, Millennium Development Authority (MiDA), and the Government of Ghana decided to fund a $5-6M deployment of the technology and impact evaluation (GridWatch Phase II). Results of this scale-up and evaluation are forthcoming.
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