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Lake Volta in Ghana
|Location||Ghana, West Africa|
White Volta River|
Black Volta River
|Primary outflows||Volta River|
|Catchment area||385,180 km2 (148,720 sq mi)|
|Surface area||8,502 km2 (3,283 sq mi)|
|Average depth||18.8 m (62 ft)|
|Max. depth||75 m (246 ft)|
|Water volume||148 km3 (32.6 × 1012 gallons)|
|Shore length1||4,800 kilometres (2,980 mi)|
|Surface elevation||85 m (279 ft)|
|1 Shore length is not a well-defined measure.|
Lake Volta is the largest reservoir, man-made lake, in terms of surface area contained behind the Akosombo Dam. It is completely within the country of Ghana and has a surface area of 8,502 square kilometres (3,283 sq mi). Stretching from Akosombo in the south to the northern part of the country, it is one of the largest man-made reservoirs in the world.
Lake Volta lies along the Greenwich meridian, and just six degrees of latitude north of the Equator. The lake's northernmost point is close to the town of Yapei, and its southernmost extreme is at the Akosombo Dam, 520 km (320 mi) downstream from Yapei. Akosombo Dam holds back both the White Volta River and the Black Volta River, which formerly converged where the middle of the reservoir now lies, to form the single Volta River. The present Volta River flows from the outlets of the dam's powerhouse and spillways to the Atlantic Ocean in southern Ghana.
The lake is formed by the Akosombo Dam, which was originally conceived by the geologist Albert Ernest Kitson in 1915, but whose construction only began in 1961 with completion in 1965. Because of the formation of Lake Volta, about 78,000 people were relocated to new towns and villages, along with 200,000 animals belonging to them. About 120 buildings were destroyed, not including small residences, as over 3,000 square miles (7,800 km2) of territory were flooded.
The Akosombo Dam provides electricity for much of the country, as well as for export to Togo, Benin, and nearby countries, to earn foreign exchange value. Lake Volta is also important for transportation, providing a waterway for both ferries and cargo watercraft. Since the huge lake lies in a tropical area, the water remains warm year-round naturally. Given good management, Lake Volta is the location of a vast population of fish and large fisheries.
Recent developments include a large-scale enterprise to harvest submerged timber from the flooded forests under Lake Volta. This project harvests high-value tropical hardwood without requiring additional logging or destruction of existing forest and, according to Wayne Dunn, "could generate the largest source of environmentally sustainable natural tropical hardwood in the world." The Ghanaian-owned company Underwater Forest Resources has committed itself to making said lumber available in the global market, while Flooring Solutions Ghana have become the suppliers of hardwood floors, using the rare wood from the Lake. In addition to generating foreign currency for the region and reducing the dependence of locals on fishing as a primary economic activity, the removal of submerged trees is improving navigation on the lake and increasing safety.
Akosombo Port's signage.
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