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Regional News of Tuesday, 7 October 2003

Source: GNA

Energy Ministry initiates solar energy project in N/R

Tamale, Oct. 6, GNA - The Ministry of Energy has carried out a most successful solar energy programme in the Northern Region under its Renewable Energy Services Project (RESPRO), Dr Paa Kwesi Nduom, Minister of Energy has said.

Under the project, financed by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the Ghana Government, 2,300 solar systems have been installed in the Northern, Upper East and Upper West Regions in schools, residential property, health facilities and water pumping systems, as well as street lighting.

Dr Nduom, who was addressing a press conference in Tamale on Monday emphasized on the Rural Electrification and Solar Energy Projects, explained the problems facing the Ministry, as well as the benefits of the merger of the Volta River Authority (VRA) and the Northern Electricity Department (NED).

He said more than 2,200 solar systems had also been installed in the Nkwanta and Krachi Districts in the Volta Region, Fanteakwa and Kwahu South in the Eastern Region and Wa in the Upper West Region.

He said it was the policy of the Ministry to make electricity accessible to the people through both renewable and conventional means to improve education, health, and information and communication technology to support small and medium scale industries.

The Minister said the government was sourcing a 15 million-dollar and a six million-dollar funding from the Spanish government and the China Exim Bank respectively for the development and expansion of solar systems throughout the country.

Dr Nduom announced that under the Rural Electrification Programme, the government was seeking 25 million dollars from Exim Bank of India and 50 million dollars from the Korean Exim Bank for the extension of electricity to the rural areas.

He noted that accessibility of electricity would enhance growth in the economy and reduce poverty, saying, "the Ministry is aware of these challenges and is therefore implementing programmes and projects to ensure that the objectives of the government are achieved".

Dr Nduom said under the Rural Electrification Programme 1,000 communities would be connected to the national grid throughout the country while 650 other communities would be connected under the Self Help Electrification Programme (SHEP).

Under the SHEP, about 100 communities have been connected to electricity while 80 communities are waiting to be connected by the end of this year. Some 41 others would also be connected to the national grid.

Dr Nduom said the Ministry was determined to utilize the expertise to refine crude oil imported from neighbouring countries for export, while the Buipe-Bolgatanga Pipeline Project would be used to export fuel to Burkina Faso.

The Minister announced that the government was looking for strategic investors to undertake the Bui Dam project and gave the assurance that the project would take off if such investors were found. Dr Nduom urged the NED to consider extending electricity to the Mole National Park to attract tourists to earn foreign exchange for the country.

Mr John Nuworklo, Northern Regional Director of NED said VRA/NED had signed a contract for the supply of 50,000 pre-paid meters for the next three years for distribution to customers.