2 November 2011

Ghana Needs Renewable Energy Authority -Kofi Adda

Former Energy Minister and MP for Navorongo central, Joseph Kofi Addah is advocating for the establishment of a dedicated agency for the exploitation of the nation's renewable energy potential to augment the conventional energy sources that exist now.

He said the conventional sources might be very expensive at times, due to rises in petroleum prices, including major climatic changes, which sometimes adversely affect the supply of power through hydro sources.

The generation of power through the renewable sources, therefore, provides a more reliable alternative source of power, which for the most part could be fairly stable.

Speaking to The Chronicle in an exclusive interview, the ranking member recommended the introduction of the Renewable Energy Bill to Parliament as a step in the right direction, but argued that the passage of the Bill alone would not be enough to enable the nation take advantage of the numerous sources of renewable energy potential that exist in the country.

He stated that a dedicated agency in the form of a Ghana Renewable Energy Authority, whose mandate will be to implement projects in the renewable area, either sponsored wholly by the state or in which the state has an interest would be best for this nation.

"Many countries which have successfully made inroads into the renewable energy sub-sector have done this, and Ghana stands to make significant gains if it takes this route," he stressed.

Kofi Adda argued that a Ghana Renewable Energy Authority outside of the Energy Ministry, and also independent of the Energy Commission will also enhance good governance in the energy sector.

The current situation in which the Ministry of Energy which is the policy arm of the government is indulging in the implementation of solar projects is not the best for the nation.

He cited examples when the Ministry in the 1980s and 1990s, under The World Bank support and UNDP support directly undertook direct implementation of solar projects.

He stated that currently, under the Spanish government grant, the Ministry is still doing so well while other agencies of the government are also embarking on direct investment on similar renewable projects, including the waste-to-energy initiatives.

"This is not good for the state and definitely it is not in the nation's interest to have many agencies of government tripping over one another, trying to do what one agency can do on behalf of the state".

According to the energy capo, passing the bill alone does not make provision for the setting up of an Authority, which amounts to opening up the sub-sector. There is, therefore, the danger of state agencies directly engaging in renewable energy projects which will not be their core business.

Kofi Adda explained that because of the expensive nature of renewable energy, private sector participants will just flock the sub-sector and begin investing, because of the passage of the Bill into law.

As such, the country needs a dedicated agency that will take the initiative to enter into strategic partnership, with such players to stimulate investment activity in the sub-sector.

"In some cases, the state too must lead the way in conceiving and inviting these private investors. This is the only way to show seriousness and to achieve results," he added.

He mentioned that the likes of VRA and ECG already have their hands full with high levels of inefficiencies, causing loses that we all have to pay high tariffs for, and these need to be addressed seriously.

The setting up of GRIDCo, which is growing to be a very good example of how state agencies should be managed, is something to draw experience from.

Kofi Adda maintained that Ghana is good with dreaming up initiatives, developing policies and passing laws, with the implementation of projects, which generally does not follow through to ensure that as a nation we reap the full dividends of those good initiatives.

"This time around, I think that Ghana should show seriousness in this area. It would be easier and simpler for the executive to table and move a motion before the assent to this Bill, so that setting up the Authority would be done simultaneously with the passage of this Bill. It is in the nation's best interest," he stressed.

The debate on the Bill is getting to a close, and there is every indication that it may be passed without the inclusion of the setting up of the Ghana Renewable Energy Authority.

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