In the 13th century, the early Portuguese traders followed a West African river’s outline to the interior and called it the ‘Volta’, which means ‘to meander’. As if to live up to its name, River Volta forms very beautiful sceneries of beautiful, long, snake-like loops of meanders.
River Volta is Ghana’s most treasured drainage system formed from the confluence of three main head-streams, the White Volta, the Blue Volta and the Red Volta Rivers. River Volta discharges its waters into the Gulf of Guinea. Along its 1,600 kilometre journey to its mouth, it collects waters from tributaries like River Oti and River Afram. The Black Volta, its largest tributary, forms a natural boundary between Ivory Coast and Ghana before swerving west where it flows through the low-lying bush country to join with the White Volta in Yeji, 40 miles away from the coast.
Like other sovereign rivers such as the Nile, River Volta prides itself in the long years of service it has offered to humanity. Since time immemorial, the Volta River has supported and continues to support a chain of farming and fishing generations that have survived upon its rich waters. It is this river that the people of the Old Ghana kingdom used to flee from Islamic attacks.
River Volta provides water to one of the largest artificial lakes in the world, the Aswan High dam. The dam sits across River Volta, forming an amazingly large reservoir, only second to the one formed by Lake Superior in the United States. It is about 8,502 square kilometres. Once an untameable river, it is now controllable. Thanks to the Volta River Authority formed in 1961. This body currently manages the hydroelectric power generated from the Aswan High Dam. The river produces so much hydroelectric power that is sufficient for both domestic use and Ghana’s neighbouring countries; Togo, Benin and Burkina Faso. 72% of Ghana’s population has access to electricity. Various studies to establish the relationship between the growth of real GDP and electricity consumption reveal that increased access to electricity improves the efficiency of energy consumption.
The navigability of the Volta River became easier with the construction of the Aswan High Dam. The first president of the Republic of Ghana, Kwame Nkrumah, ordered the construction of the dam for multiple purposes. Ranging from irrigation to transport, River Volta and Aswan High Dam are of great economic importance. Of all African rivers, none matches the transportation potential of the Volta. It allows the use of steamers, ferries, boats and dhows. This is enticing to tourists who flock the numerous hotels designed and maintained to international standards for local and international visitors. If you happen to visit this spectacular place for some surfing, boat riding and water games, do not worry about your safety or the safety of your luggage. The Ghana Navy Forces have a base in Akosombo, along the dam, making the strip along the Volta River safer.