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A Dam for Africa

Akosombo Stories from Ghana

by Stephan F. Miescher

Published by: Indiana University Press

608 Pages, 6.00 x 9.00 x 0.00 in, 55 b&w illus., 7 maps

This book can be purchased from this website 60 days before the publish date

  • Paperback
  • 9780253059956
  • Published: May 2022

$45.00

This book can be purchased from this website 60 days before the publish date

  • eBook
  • 9780253059987
  • Published: May 2022

$44.99

This book can be purchased from this website 60 days before the publish date

  • Hardcover
  • 9780253059970
  • Published: May 2022

$90.00

Since its construction in the early 1960s, the hydroelectric Akosombo Dam across the Volta River has become one of the most controversial sites in Ghana. Drawing upon a wealth of sources, A Dam for Africa tells in detail for the first time the story of this dam that has so profoundly helped and hurt a nation for 60 years.

A rock-filled embankment dam, Akosombo stands 370 feet high and on its crest runs 2,100 feet long. It was the keystone of the Volta River Project, which included a large manmade lake 250 miles long, the VALCO aluminum smelter, new cities and towns, a deep-sea harbor, and an electrical grid. On the local level, Akosombo meant access to electricity for people in urban areas across southern Ghana. For others, Akosombo inflicted tremendous social and environmental costs. The dam altered the ecology of the Lower Volta, displaced 80,000 people in the Volta Basin, and impacted the livelihoods of hundreds of thousands of Ghanaians.

In A Dam for Africa, historian Stephan Miescher explores the three narratives that weave together around Akosombo: the international efforts of the American aluminum industry in building the dam and benefiting from it through subsidizing the VALCO aluminum smelter, the Ghanaian nation-wide drive toward electrification, and the many local stories of upheaval and devastation in the 52 resettlement towns, where those in the Lower Volta remain bitter about failed promises, state neglect, and ecological changes.