16 October 2017

Ghana: Stakeholders Evaluate Renewable Energy Efforts

Ghana is making progress in integrating renewable energy into its energy mix. However, there is little convergence among stakeholders on how well the country is doing in terms of the comprehensiveness of its approach.

At the just-ended 3rd Ghana Renewable Energy Fair in Accra last week, public sector actors such as politicians and technocrats were celebrating giant strides taken towards renewable energy integration.

On the other side were civil society actors and academics who believed the progress being made was missing several important factors.

The strongest words were delivered by Prof Chris Gordon, a Lecturer at the University of Ghana.

For him, the country needs to develop human capacity which must not be restricted to any sort of curricula or training.

"That human capacity needs to glow again beyond mere academics and really into practice but beyond practice; we need to change the psychology of the Ghanaian. As a nation, we are very slow to adopt new technologies because we are very comfortable with the basics of usual approach in doing things.

"And somehow, we need to change the way we do things in the way we can dip from and jump over some of the bad decisions that have been made by the country. We are not being serious with the kind of energy capacity being generated. We have not factored in changes in technology."

Adding his voice, Ishmael Edjekumhene of Kumasi Institute of Technology, Energy and Environment (KITE) said: "We need a renewable energy fund or package to improve renewable energy in Ghana."

He observed that investors are not attracted to doing business with the Electricity Company of Ghana (ECG) because it is not a viable entity.

Kofi Bentil of Policy think-tank IMANI Ghana, opined that the government must avoid taxing any form of renewable energy investments in the country. "We should move into renewables. Changing everything is not possible but a transition is much possible. In this country, biogas and solar will be able to take care of us."

2000 people

The Energy Commission held the conference in collaboration with the Ministry of Energy with the 3-day event providing the platform for about 2000 participants from the renewable energy sector to interact.

The programme was on the theme, "Renewable Energy: An Engine for Distributed Wealth Creation."

Ing. Seth A. Mahu, an engineer at the Ministry of Energy, emphasised that government has adopted various strategies to increase renewable energy capacity and access to electricity throughout the country.

These include: Utility Scale Renewable Energy, Scale-Up Renewable Energy, Mini-grid Electrification and Off-grid Electrification project.

According to him, programmes such as the Renewable Energy Programme, Nuclear Power Development Programme and Clean Coal Development Programme have been diversified into the National Energy Mix.

In addition, a programme for enhancing access to sustainable cooking fuels and energy efficiency and conservation has also been streamlined to help minimize environmental impact of energy supply in the country.

"Our target is to concentrate on investment-focused framework to promote and develop RETs for sustainable economic growth, and contribute to improved social life and reduction of adverse climate change effects," he indicated.

In a speech read on his behalf, the Vice President, Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia said renewable energy, which is fast emerging throughout the world, when harnessed wisely, would contribute significantly to the rapid socio-economic growth while safeguarding the environment.

"The effective development and utilisation of the country's renewable energy potential can therefore play key roles in achieving government's objective of social transformation through wealth creation."

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