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General News of Thursday, 10 May 2007

Source: GNA

Plans underway to end energy crisis - Minister

Accra, May 10, GNA - Mr. Kwadwo Baah-Wiredu, Minister of Finance and Economic Planning on Thursday said government was exploring further financial avenues to increase the energy generation capacity to ease the energy crisis by the end of the year.

He said the energy crisis cuts across the whole of Africa and not specific to Ghana alone but gave the assurance that Ghana was on track to increase her energy generation capacity in view of the negative effects the power rationing could have on the country's economic growth. He said the government alone had made a budgetary allocation of 500 million dollars to the energy sector per year as part of its general programme to double the generation of power.

Mr. Baah-Wiredu was speaking at a Press conference to launch the "Accra Financing for Development Conference" scheduled to take place from the 30th to 31st of this Month.

The "Accra Financing for Development Conference" came about when it dawned on both African countries and their development partners that Africa was unlikely to meet the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) unless aid was increased financially.

Previous meetings on the issue had already been held in Abuja, Singapore and Maputo.

The two-day Accra conference, a follow up to these meetings, would bring together Energy Ministers from Africa and their development partners to look at sustainable financing options in meeting Africa's financing challenges in the energy sector in the medium to long term and to further deepen the dialogue on Financing for Development. Under the theme: "Infrastructure for Growth - The Energy Challenge" the conference would review progress on the Gleneagles commitment and the Maputo Declaration.

Mr. Baah-Wiredu noted that though Africa abounded in energy resources, many countries had not been able to create the conducive environment needed to attract investment in the development of the energy sector.

"Energy plays a critical role in underpinning efforts to achieve the MDGs and improving the lives of poor people across the world. Lack of access to adequate affordable, reliable, safe and environmentally friendly energy is therefore a severe constraint on development.

Consequently, he said a new approach needed to be taken to ensure that energy underpins efforts to achieve the MDGs and that the Accra conference would take stock of the energy situation in Africa and come up with sustainable approaches to improve energy access among other things.

Mr. Joseph Kofi Adda, Minister of Energy said Ghana required an estimated 4.5 billion dollars in the short to medium term to meet the infrastructure development requirements for reliable and efficient production and supply of energy.

He noted that the medium term strategic goal for the energy sector was to fix within the next five years, the sectoral difficulties particularly those bordering on infrastructure development, institutional reforms and regulatory lapses like inadequate pricing.

Mr Adda said since the government alone could not provide all investments needed to meet the high energy demands, its policies were now directed to Independent Power Producers (IPP) who had the capital to invest to make the sector more competitive, efficient and cost effective.

He said about 13 private power-producing companies had so far expressed interest to restore and operate generating plants in the country to help resolve the energy problem.

"It envisaged that partnership with the private sectors to intensify access to energy will lead to sustainable development both in the urban and rural areas." he added.

Mr Adda said the government would soon take delivery of two turbines from Switzerland that would produce an excess of 300 megawatts of power through a combined recycling process. 10 May 07

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