Construction is due to start in the first quarter of 2014 on a 155MW PV project in Ghana, said to be Africa's largest PV power plant to date.

Nzema, in Ghana’s Western Region, will also be the country’s first grid-connected solar farm.

Talking to PV Tech, Douglas Coleman, special projects director for Nzema's developer, Blue Energy, said 500 local construction staff would be employed to start work on the 155MW project early next year.

A further local 200 people will be employed for continued operation and maintenance, and Coleman said he hoped a further 2,700 indirect jobs would be created from related construction and operations activities.

Coleman said Blue Energy had tackled the shortage of indigenous skills with a local training programme, as part of its corporate responsibility programme. Coleman said local training “just makes sense” as the skills will “always be available locally” once the project is completed.

Blue Energy is in the final stages of discussions with investors, EPC partners and equipment suppliers. Investor the Stadium Group is the only agreed financial partner so far, but Coleman said negotiations were ongoing with others and financial close was scheduled for the end of 2013.

“It’s going really well,” Coleman said. “What has made Ghana bankable for independent power projects is that the government has clear objectives and independent regulation.”

Once operational, the project will contribute towards the fulfilment of Ghana’s target of 10% renewable energy generation by 2020.

Blue Energy has already secured a generation licence and a feed-in tariff for the plant’s 25-year operational life from Ghana’s electricity regulators, the Energy Commission and the Public Utilities Regulatory Commission.