One of MCC’s Finest: The Ellen Moran Primary Substation in Ghana

MCC
5 min readJun 2, 2022

By Khalia Mounsey, Millennium Challenge Corporation’s Deputy Resident Country Director, Ghana

Ellen Moran Primary Substation in Ghana. Ellen worked for the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC).
“I am deeply humbled by, and grateful for, the honor being bestowed on me,” said Ellen Moran during the Substation inauguration ceremony on May 25, 2022. (Photo by Millennium Development Authority — Ghana)

Reliable electricity is critical to reducing poverty and creating expanded economic opportunities, especially for a country with a growing economy and ambitious development goals like Ghana. That is why MCC partnered with the Government of Ghana on the $316 million MCC — Ghana Power Compact, which is set to close on June 6, 2022. The compact has invested grant funding in improving power infrastructure and utility information technology, advancing energy efficiency programs, and expanding opportunities for women in the power sector.

With MCC’s support, the Government of Ghana has completed impressive infrastructure projects — such as the Pokuase Bulk Supply Point, now the largest capacity substation in the country — to provide more reliable, affordable electricity to Ghanaians. But the recent inauguration of the smaller Ellen Moran Primary Substation on May 25, 2022, was not just another ribbon cutting event, it was an homage to a dedicated American public servant.

The Millennium Development Authority (MiDA), MCC’s counterparts in the Ghanaian government responsible for implementing the compact, dedicated the new 33 KiloVolt (KV) substation to retired MCC employee Ellen Moran as a show of their appreciation for her efforts in Ghana during her long public service career.

The warm feelings are mutual. In a recent interview, Moran said her favorite memory of working in Ghana was “first and foremost, the people — their hospitality, warmth, collegiality.

I had the magnificent experience of working with Ellen, who was an infrastructure specialist on my teams during both the first Ghana Compact and the Ghana Power Compact. She always made the work better with her input and presence. It’s not every day that you get to work with someone who reflects the work ethic, collaborative spirit, knowledge, personal understanding, and integrity that you admire — the essence of MCC’s CLEAR Values. And I’m not the only person who would say that about her.

A perfect example of Ellen’s humility came during her remarks at the Ellen Moran Primary Substation inauguration ceremony.

“We must not forget the efforts of those who did the real work,” Moran said. “That is, the contractors — Eiffage for the substation itself, Best and Crompton for the incoming 33 KV [electrical] line, and [our other partners] for the rest of the 33 and 11 KV incoming and outgoing [electrical] lines.”

MCC’s counterparts in the Government of Ghana valued Ellen’s work ethic and personal ethos too.

Working across cultures and often on different sides of the Atlantic Ocean is not easy — the time difference, and the differences in life experiences and work culture — can create more confusion than harmony when large, complex infrastructure projects are under discussion. But Ellen Moran thrived in that environment, working alongside multiple Ghanaian project managers, engineers, consultants, and specialists to get results. Her contributions have helped build the expanded N1 highway at the George Walker Bush Highway in Accra, the two largest capacity power substations in Ghana at Pokuase and Kasoa, as well as other projects across Ghana and other African countries where she has worked.

Ironically, and in true storybook fashion, Ellen was not originally slated to be part of the Ghana compacts. She was asked to stand in for a for a colleague during a Ghana delegation visit to Washington D.C. — a last-minute request that help shape Ghana’s modernized power sector.

“In hindsight, I feel that, unwittingly, [my colleague] gave me the winning lottery ticket,” said Moran. “I then had the privilege and pleasure of working on, not one, but two consecutive and successful MCC compacts in Ghana.”

Ellen carries especially fond memories of the positive impact MCC’s work has had in Ghana. “One of my memories from the first compact was the initial site visits to the sections of trunk and feeder roads under consideration,” she said. “Along the way, we stopped at villages where the villagers made their case as to why they needed the road. As for the N1 highway, long after the project was completed, people would approach me as a representative of MCC, thankful for the savings in travel time brought about by the compact-funded project. They felt its impact in their daily lives and commutes.”

The Ellen Moran Primary Substation will enhance the reliability of power serving 37 Military Hospital, Greater Accra Regional Hospital, the National Mosque, and the Jubiliee House, which is the seat of Ghana’s government. It will also help meet increasing demand for power in communities surrounding it, including schools, churches, businesses, and homes. Over 200,000 residents will directly benefit from this investment.

More than the benefits of her station, I hope people come to know who Ellen Moran is — the best of what a civil servant should be: knowledgeable, hardworking, not looking for renown, but seeking to make life better for others. She worked quietly at MCC for almost two decades, retiring in December 2021 after a 50-year career. Her results are in the flicker of a light that turns on in someone’s house or in the minutes saved for a commuter to get home from work. She helped bring about the infrastructure many will use and take for granted every day. If you asked her, she would say it was a team effort, but I know a most valuable player when I see one.

Ellen Moran, the Honorable William Owuraku Aidoo (middle), and Dr Samuel De-suza (right) unveil the Ellen Moran Substation plaque during the station’s inauguration ceremony on May 25, 2022.
Ellen Moran, the Honorable William Owuraku Aidoo (middle), and Dr Samuel De-suza (right) unveil the Ellen Moran Substation plaque during the station‘s inauguration ceremony on May 25, 2022. (Photo courtesy of Millennium Development Authority — Ghana)

“For me, this event — and honor of a lifetime — signifies not only the inauguration of a substation but also the successful completion of the Ghana Power Compact, the culmination of a 15-plus year working relationship with MiDA, and the end of [my] long career,” said Moran.

Congratulations to Ellen Moran! It is a great pleasure to see her name emblazoned on the primary substation at Kanda. The Ellen Moran Primary Substation, constructed under her oversight as part of the MCC Ghana Power Compact, will continue to benefit Ghanaians long into the future.

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MCC

MCC — the Millennium Challenge Corporation — is an innovative & independent U.S. Government agency reducing global poverty through economic growth.