The SNV Netherlands Development Organisation and the Centre for Energy, Environment and Sustainable Development (CEESD) have organised a symposium to inform stakeholders of government’s plans for electricity extension to island and riverside communities.
The Government of Ghana, through the Ministry of Energy, has recognised that the deployment of renewable energy based mini-grids in island areas offers a long term and sustainable solution to the problem, and it is therefore leading the development of mini-grids.
However, the pace is slow and actual commitment of funds is not assured; again the existing policy on mini-grids is inadequate and lacks details while regulatory and certification frameworks are not presently available.
In that regard, SNV and partners, through the Voice for Change (V4C) Partnership Programme, is funding an advocacy to influence stakeholders to initiate actions that will result in the establishment of renewable energy based mini-grid electrification in island communities in Ghana.
Mr Samuel Sena, the District Chief Executive for the Kwahu Afram Plains North District, said the project which is being supported by the District Assembly would highlight how the communities could position themselves as potential beneficiaries.
He said government has begun the mini-grid programme with a five pilot installed systems on some island communities in other districts, adding “it is our hope that our island communities will be selected in subsequent phases of the mini-grid programme”.
Mr Sena said many communities within the district were yet to be connected to electricity; however, the situation poses a serious security threat to many folks who live in these communities.
He said among the benefits that mini-grids could provide was improving household incomes by enabling households to establish micro home enterprises and by providing existing small and medium-size enterprises (SMEs) the possibility to switch to a cheaper, cleaner and more convenient form of energy.
Mr Sena, therefore, pledged on behalf of the Assembly to continue to provide the necessary support and create the enabling environment to ensure a successful implementation of mini-grid electrification for off-grid communities on the dwarf island.
Dr Julius Cudjoe Ahiekpor, the Executive Director for CEESD, said the importance of electricity in the development of any country could not be overemphasized as it was the backbone of every economy.
He said as we call for districts to grow and become economically vibrant then it was necessary to change the off-grid electrification status quo; and this could be done by resorting to renewable energy based mini-grids.
Dr Ahiekpor said government was making efforts to extend electricity to all parts of the country by 2030; as such, Ghana had extended through the national grid to about 84 per cent of the population.
He said as part of the V4C Partnership Project, CEESD advocates for the prioritization of mini-grids in off-grid communities and also lobbies for timely implementation of mini-grid plans as enshrined in government’s policy statements.
Mr Dramani Bukari, a Senior Advisor on Energy at SNV, said the organisation, since its existence has been working to ensure that they create change in terms of alleviating poverty across the Globe including Ghana.
He said SNV would continue to use evidence to lobby policy makers to ensure that they remain committed to the deployment of rural electrification.
Mr Bukari said SNV would soon outdoor a study they conducted on mini-grids, on the policy environment; and which therefore highlights some recommendations for government.
He said among the recommendation was that; the private sector’s role should be clearly stated in our mini-grid policy environment and beyond contracting a management, they should be given a bigger space to operate.
Mr Bukari said the licensing environment for operators should be as much a possible be less rigorous and simplified; it should remain coherent and as well leave no doubts in the minds of private sector.
He explained that this would give clear signals on what the environment offers, so they can immediately be able to do their cost benefit analysis and see Ghana as viable market for mini-grid electrification in Africa.