Overcoming Poverty, By Cooling our Planet™

Africa’s energy demand will double by 2030, only 10% of which will be renewable power

Three quarters of land in Africa is degraded, and water is increasingly contested

Rural poor in Africa hardest hit, compounded by climate change

Today’s siloed solutions are falling short


Even if these problems seem unrelated, they are deeply interconnected, and so too must the solutions be. In fact, by addressing these challenges together, the impact for local communities can be substantially amplified.

An Integrated Solution

Village Corps Ghana (VCG) seeks to develop an integrated renewable energy and agroforestry Project in the Akyem Abuakwa Kingdom in the Eastern Region of Ghana.

  

The project consists of a 40 MW biomass renewable energy plant integrated with a 10,000+ hectare organic farming system. Agricultural waste from the farming system provides the feedstock for the power plant.

The Project is in the pre-implementation phase and project development costs have been funded by a United States Trade and Development Agency (USTDA) Power Africa Grant and private investors.  

The Project will produce renewable energy for the Ghanaian grid and create an inclusive agricultural value chain to enable about 5,000 smallholder farmers to sustainably support themselves.

The Project will be developed in strict adherence to the IFC Performance Standards and seeks to address 12 of the 17 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UN SDGs).

Project location, Eastern Region of Ghana 

Village Corp Ghana’s Change Approach

VCG recognizes that thinking and acting more systemically to find solutions to address interlinked challenges offers greater benefit. Integrating two major components – renewable power production and a farming system on degraded land will in unison increase resilience and achieve greater impact, eliminate externalities and secure enduring socio-economic and environmental benefits for local communities.

The 40 MW   VCG Power Plant generates baseload renewable energy, reduces CO2 emissions and becomes the commercial apex of a new agricultural economy in the surrounding rural communities.

The VCG Farming System regenerates 10 000+ hectares degraded land to agricultural productivity in an environmentally sustainable manner and offers meaningful economic opportunities through food production and agri-value chain development. 

VCG’s Smallholder Partnership model for Living Development will contract approx. 5 000 local farmers to produce tree and food crops in the agroforestry system, providing training, agricultural income and increased food security.

The Project has at its core to regenerate land, reduce GHG emissions, store carbon, restore aquatic systems and conserve and protect terrestrial biodiversity. This not only offers benefits to the planet, but also to the resilience of the farming system.

  The Power Plant

CONCEPT

The power plant will supply renewable base-load electricity that will be consumed locally, improving grid efficiencies and eliminating transmission costs.  

VCG has signed a 20-year power purchase agreement (PPA) with the Electric Company of Ghana (ECG).  

The Project’s 40 MW biomass power plant will generate power by first processing sugarcane grasses to produce sugar-based products and then combusting the residue bagasse waste stream.  

LOCATION

The proposed 50-acre site is adjacent to the Accra-Kumasi highway.  

All of the land to be farmed with sugarcane grasses  lies within about 30 kms of the Plant. VCG will deliver its generation to ECG’s distribution grid sub-station located 3.5km from the power facility.  

EPC PARTNERS

The power plant will be constructed and operated by a leading Engineering, Procurement and Construction (EPC) contractor.  

The EPC contractors will be assisted by local civil contractors, engineers and architects to facilitate all local permitting and related construction matters as part of the Local Participation requirements.

Proposed Biomass Power Plant Site – Aykem Biomass Power Plant  

  Farming

The Farming System

The farming system has two major components, integrated across 10,000 hectares – the production of sugar cane grass and the food cropping system. It is designed as an organic agroforestry farming system which provides a diverse and ecologically resilient foundation for annual and perennial cash and beneficial crop production, including sugarcane grasses, avocado, ginger and various legumes.

The Project will regenerate 10,000 hectares of land that has been degraded by deforestation and illegal ‘Galamsey’ mining activities.  

Sugarcane grasses will be mechanically cultivated and harvested on a year-round basis to produce sugar, and the organic waste product, 'bagasse’, will provide feedstock to the power plant.  

The sugarcane sub system is owned and controlled by VCG and is designed to deliver a secure supply of biomass feedstock to the power plant. 

The farming system design has three key fundamentals: 

  • Land regeneration requires an at scale approach with a long-term investment, underpinned by a commercially viable model;  
  • Food production and the development of agricultural value chains is a priority; 
  • The model needs to be inclusive of local farmers in an equitable manner. 

VCG recognizes that the strategic use of digital technologies can help accelerate sustainable agricultural transformation in Africa. The farming system will operate using the most advanced technology, inclusive of satellite and drone monitoring, GPS based logistics, smallholder focused digital platforms and blockchain technology.

 

Farming System Process

LIDAR based selection of +10 000 degraded unutilised land

Landscape preparation, contouring & soil regeneration

Nursery development, training, sugar cane grass, avocado & cash crops planting

Conservation & management of environmentally sensitive areas

Ongoing land and soil management, annual harvesting

Biomass operations, cash crop value chain management & marketing

 

Smallholder Farmer Partnership Model

Step 1

VCG and Esoko undertake ongoing liaison and engagement with stakeholders in the communities in the project area to discuss the project activities, and communicate the local farmer recruitment process.

Step 2

In each community, farmers express interest in participating and are screened on criteria (e.g. experience, availability, willingness to participate). Farmers are selected for participation and contracts are signed.

Step 3

Onboarding and training of farmers, using a tiered structure with local technical trainers and training in good agricultural practices, sustainable land management and digital enablement.

 

Step 4

Esoko and VCG provide farmers with inputs and planting materials. Farmers manage the land and crops, receiving ongoing technical advice and support from Project experts.

Step 5

Annual cash crop harvesting, replanting of annual crops and management of sales and revenue payment is undertaken together with farmers utilizing digital platforms.

Step 6

Over time, and with farmer commitment to the partnership, land is regenerated and future revenues from the farming system endure.

Impact

Enduring Impact

The Project has been designed to create measurable socio-economic impact. The integrated approach addresses 12 of the 17 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), including the following impact:

  • Reliable and cost-effective baseload electricity supplied to the national grid, strengthening the grid and improving on the electricity stability and quality of power in the area
  • Creation of a vibrant agribusiness center with training and empowerment of 5 000 thousand local farmers, 45 permanent jobs at the power plant, 35 jobs in logistics and about 250 temporary jobs during construction
  • Reducing atmospheric carbon dioxide by 286,000 CO2e tons annually – a total of 5 million CO2e tons over the 20-year term of the PPA.
  • Restoring about 10,000 hectares of degraded mining land to agricultural productivity 
  • Improving water quality in the local watershed including about 150km of polluted rivers and streams
  • Rehabilitation of local bio-habitats will improve terrestrial and aquatic biodiversity
  • Creating a legacy asset for the community: VCG will manage the asset for the full 20-year period of the PPA before ceding ownership of the power facility and farming assets to the Kingdom

Impact Management and Monitoring

VCG has a strong commitment to institutionalize its impact goals into the company’s business decisions, operations and governance.  

A detailed Impact Measurement & Management Strategy (IMM) has been formulated, based on the framework of the United Nations Development Programme’s (UNDP) SDG Impact Standards for Enterprises:

The IMM strategy is directly aligned with other industry best practices, including the UN SDGs; Impact Management Project's (IMP) Impact Management Norms; Global Impact Investing Network's (GIIN), Impact Reporting and Investment Standards (IRIS) and the IFC) Performance Standards.

 

Impact Management Approach

 

An Environmental and Social Management System (ESMS), underpinned by expert-led Environmental and Social Impact Assessments and feasibility studies. 

The ESMS provides the framework for identifying and managing potential environmental, social, health and safety risks, impacts and opportunities of VCG operations. 

The ESMS, as a central management framework, is utilized and reviewed on an ongoing basis, continually informing performance management processes during Project implementation, including data collection and analytics. 

Two Environmental Management Plans, one for the farming system and one for the power plant details the approach to monitor and supervise adherence to the ESMS.

 

Village Corps Environmental & Social Management System
Impact & Sustainability Policies Impact Data Collection & Management Processes Direct Stakeholder Engagement
  • Smallholder Recruitment Criteria
  • VCG Smallholder Partnership Policy
  • Envrionmental and Social Policy Statement
  • Environmental and Social Management Plans
  • Emergency Preparedness and Responsive Plan
  • Grievance and Redress Procedure
  • Community Engagement Plan
  • Refinement of key performance indicators
  • Granular record keeping and data collection
  • Datat mangement and governance workflows
  • Data aggregation
  • Data validation and verification
  • Central, transparent impact performance dashboard 
  • Continul community consulations and feedback mechanisms at community, district and institutional levels.
  • Active capacity building, for meaningful local participation and agency in The Project's development efforts
  • Transparent reporting to stakeholders 

VCG's Impact Management Dashboard

The performance data underlying VCG's impact objectives has been identified and illustrated for prospective stakeholders. Click here to explore VCG's impact dashboard.