General News of Monday, 15 March 2004

Source: Voice of America

Voice of America Announces EWW Wind Project

Originally broadcast on Voice of America?s English to Africa service on 12/26/03

A World Bank project called ?Power to the Poor in Ghana? will use wind power to generate electricity in rural areas. Small business will benefit from the use of wind-powered turbines. English to Africa reporter Fiifi Amakye has the story.

The wind turbine project in Ghana is being promoted by the World Bank?s Development Marketplace program. The goal of the program is to support innovative development ideas. As a result, the bank at its annual Development Marketplace competition selected an American organization called EnterpriseWorks. EnterpriseWorks will team up with a Ghanaian company, Rural Energy and Environment Systems. Together they will help local manufactures build small wind turbines to help rural businesses. It is unlikely that rural areas in Ghana will be able to hook up to the country?s main power grid anytime soon.

Jon Naugle is a Senior Program Officer for EnterpriseWorks. He says the project will look at new ways of providing energy for rural communities isolated from the power grid.

Mr. Naugle: Well I must say we are very happy to have won this award in a competition that had over 2000 applicants. We feel that the award will help us to test a pilot technology in Ghana and will help us to look at a new solution for providing energy for poor rural communities that tend to be isolated and unable to connect to the power grid.

Ivor Agyeman Dua is the Head of Public Affairs of the Ghanaian embassy in Washington DC. He says the project is good news because small rural businesses lack the capital and the infrastructure to compete.

IAD: Well I think it?s good news because we need to help those small businesses that are operating from the rural areas. And more often they have problems of getting capital, problems of infrastructure, problems of equipment, and a whole lot of other things. So it?s good now that there is an NGO that is trying to help in that direction, the supplying of energy.

The wind turbine project in Ghana will also focus on marketing the products and training more companies to build them. Small business owners will be extended credit and offered business advice. Ajay Mathur, of the World Bank?s Environment Department, says the Development Marketplace program reaches out to communities and small organizations around the world. He says it helps them apply innovative techniques to projects with less harm to the environment.

Mr. Mathur: The Ghana wind energy project is I think one of the most innovative projects which came this year to the Development Marketplace. It?s about creating the capacity in Ghana to make and maintain and sell small wind energy machines. By small I mean about 500 watts, essentially the amount of energy that would be needed by a small village using lights, more or less. And this can be met through diesel generator sets or through batteries. What happens here is that that by using small wind machines, they are replacing diesel or other fossil fuels.

It is anticipated that if the pilot project in Ghana succeeds it would be replicated in many African countries. For VOA?s English To Africa service, I?m Fiifi Amakye in Washington.