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Govt begins distribution of solar lanterns to deprived households

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BY: Kester Aburam Korankye
 Dr Robert Sogbadji speaking at the seminar. Picture: Benedict
Dr Robert Sogbadji speaking at the seminar. Picture: Benedict

The government has begun the distribution of solar-powered lanterns to households, especially residents of communities not connected to the national grid.

So far, the Ministry of Energy has distributed 120,000 units of lanterns that also have charging systems for mobile phones.

The Deputy Director of Alternative Energy at the Ministry of Energy, Dr Robert Sogbadji, said the government intended to distribute the lanterns to two million Ghanaians by the end of 2020.

He said the initiative was part of a wider strategy to help replace the traditional kerosene-powered lanterns that were mostly used in rural communities.

Event

Dr Sogbadji was speaking at a business seminar on Solar energy in Ghana in Accra yesterday.

Among the participants were students from the Tuck School of Business, a graduate school of the Dartmouth College in New Hampshire in the United States of America.

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It was organised by Yingli Namene West Africa, a solar-focused energy company.

Beneficiaries

The deputy director said: “We are targeting off-grid and isolated communities. However, when we had the power crisis, some communities within the Accra enclave also benefited.”

Dr Sogbadji said under the programme, District Chief Executives (DCEs) and Members of Parliament (MPs) could apply to the Ministry of Energy for the supply of the lanterns if there was the need.

He explained that a review of the applications would be carried out and payments made at subsidised prices for the required number of lanterns for onward distribution to beneficiaries.

“When the lanterns are distributed through a DCE or an MP, they make sure that records of beneficiaries are sent to the Ministry of Energy for monitoring and evaluation purposes because the lanterns are not to be resold,” Dr Sogbadji emphasised.

According to him, “the idea is to reduce fossil fuel because the government used to subsidise kerosene due to the dependence on it by people in rural areas and it was costing the government lots of money. Therefore, the government decided to use cleaner energy to power lanterns in such communities.”

Conducive environment

The Managing Director of Yingli Namene West Africa, Mr Firmin Nkamleu Ngassam, observed that Ghana had a good regulatory policy framework to attract investments into the renewable energy sector.

He said those policies made it easy for his company to invest in power generation to support the businesses of the private sector.

Mr Ngassam urged businesses to switch to solar energy, explaining that it was not only cost-effective but also environmentally friendly in line with global requirements on cleaner energy.

The company is a wholly owned subsidiary of Yingli Namene Solar and provides affordable, clean, high-quality entry-level solar lights to people worldwide.