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Business News of Monday, 20 January 2014

Source: B&FT

Africa’s largest solar plants to be built in W/R

A 155MW peak solar PV plant is to be constructed in the Western Region this year to complement the nation’s energy needs for national development.

When constructed, the solar project could be one of the largest solar power generating facilities in Africa and a reflection of private sector response to government’s priority agenda to provide energy for all in the not-too-distant future.

Captain Paul Forjoe, a Director of Mere Power Nzema Ltd., an independent power generating company, said this in an interview with the media in Accra on the outlook for the energy sector this year.

He applauded government’s recent passage of the renewable energy law as well as its programme to achieve a total installed generation capacity of 5,000MW within the next few years, and said the provision of reliable, sustainable and accessible energy is a critical condition for industrial take-off and growth.

“Ensuring available clean energy that is responsive to our environment must be our national priority,” he said Captain Forjoe, who is also the Managing Director of Mere Plantations Limited, said the past year was one of opportunities and challenges for the country.

He said the difficult global economic situation coupled with investor caution also slowed down investment into international trusts funding Ghana’s unique and ground breaking reforestation project in the middle belt of Ghana which involves reforestation of over four thousand (4,000) hectares of degraded land in the Afram Headwaters forest reserve in the Ashanti Region.

Mere Plantations limited, he said, has to date planted over two (2) million teak trees to reclaim the degraded land since the project started in 2011.

He however said the emerging signs of global recovery should impact positively on fund flows and the pace of our work on the reforestation project.

He cautioned against over-dependence on the Oil and Gas sector, which he said would be a horrible mistake if that happens.

He said the Oil and Gas revenues from Jubilee give Ghana’s economy a temporary leverage by providing needed resources that will allow the country to achieve real and accelerated growth in agriculture and light industry.

“Growth in these key sectors, agriculture and light industry, will have a positive impact on employment creation and household income -- leading to a corresponding decline in poverty in our society,” he said, and encouraged government to pursue growth in these critical sectors.

Captain Forjoe said over-dependence on oil and gas in some of our neighboring countries and the negative impact on their economies are examples of the pitfalls of such dependence. Ghana, as a country, must come up with policy choices to avoid this by all means he said.