Ghana has been selected as one of the 20 countries to benefit from a regional micro-hydro project to provide technical and financial resources for micro-hydro technology development.
Dr Stephen Duah-Yentumi, Sustainable Development Advisor to the UNDP, said the project forms part of two UNDP regional programmes under a Multi functional platform aimed at providing modern energy to rural communities using the Platform as a decentralising energy source.
A multi functional platform is basically an engine, which provides energy for a variety of end user equipment such as grinding mills and other agro processing machines.
Dr Duah-Yentumi, who was addressing the first stakeholders’ workshop on the Global Village Energy Partnership Project (GVEP) in Accra said the GVEP provided a unique opportunity to put the provision of energy right at the heart of poverty reduction initiatives and to emphasise that without energy the Millennium Development Goals could not be achieved.
He observed that 80 per cent of the thermal energy used for cooking in Ghana was by biomas, mostly charcoal and firewood, and advocated the use of Liquefied Petroleum Gas as alternative to the use of wood fuel.
The use of wood-fuel affects negatively women’s health and contributes to the depletion of Ghana’s forest resources.
Representatives from the energy sector: Ministry of Energy, the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, Ministry of Communications and Technology, the Energy Foundation, the National Development Planning Commission, the SEND Foundation and the United States Agency for International Development, among other participants attended the workshop.
Jointly organised by the Ministry of Energy, the KITE and the United Nations Development Programme, the objective of workshop was to interact with stakeholders to collate inputs to complete the Energy for Poverty Reduction Action Plan in Ghana.
The Action Plan would provide stakeholders with a picture of the selected sectors with respect to their poverty reduction strategy, and the preparation of 10 ready to be implemented project documents.
With the GVEP, Ghana received a framework, which would help better coordinate all on going activities in the field of sustainable energy services for poverty reduction in the country.
The Project aims to develop the analysis, advocacy tool, networking, and bring stakeholders, especially the World Bank and the UNDP together, in a joint effort to ensure access to modern energy services by the rural poor, with the broad objective of poverty reduction.
Ghana became a signatory two months later after the GVEP was launched in August 2002 at the World Summit for Sustainable Development in South Africa.
The GVEP is being implemented by the Kumasi Institute of Technology and Environment (KITE), with stake-holdings by Non Governmental and Community Based Organisations.
Professor Mike Ocquaye, Minister of Energy who opened the workshop said a lot more effort would be required to send electricity to the remaining 50 per cent of the Ghanaian population who did not have access to electricity.
He stated that in spite of significant increase in access to electricity from 23 per cent in 1988 to the current level of over 50 per cent, more resources would be required to make electricity available to the remnant of the population who were probably farther from the national grid.
Prof. Ocquaye, represented by Mr Stanley Barnor, Chief Director of the Ministry said policy goals of wealth creation through accelerated poverty reduction and access to basic social services such as health care, quality education and potable water would be unachievable without adequate and reliable high supply of energy to all sectors of the economy.