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Business News of Wednesday, 11 March 2015

Source: B&FT

Charcoal, firewood usage above 90 percent

An IMANI survey has indicated that more than 90 percent of rural dwellers rely on either firewood or charcoal for their cooking needs -- a situation that requires government to step up its Rural LPG Promotion Programme.

The survey findings show that the use of wood fuels among rural dwellers is still at an alarming level, despite attempts by government to discourage the practice and in its place promote the use of liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) among other clean energy sources.

The rural LPG promotion programme, initiated by government about two years ago, involves the distribution of free cylinders to rural dwellers to discourage the use of wood fuels as part of wider efforts to protect the environment.

Before the launch of the rural LPG promotion programme in Garu-Tempane in the Upper East Region in 2013, previous governments had flirted with the idea of giving rural dwellers free cylinders -- with the oldest approach dating back to 1990.

But according to the IMANI survey, 38.8 percent of the respondents indicated that they rely on firewood for cooking fuel whereas 59.1 percent indicated they use charcoal as their main source of cooking fuel.

The survey was conducted as part of IMANI’s Budget Analysis and Tracking project, which highlighted analyses of trends in policies relating to various sectors of the economy, as well as budgetary allocations, disbursements and actual expenditure in order to establish consistency and delivery of development goals and whether they had a positive impact on the Ghanaian economy or otherwise.

According to the policy think-tank, government should provide requisite fiscal commitments to back the Rural LPG Promotion Programme.

The LPG promotion programme has the target of distributing 350,000 liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) cylinders and stoves free of charge in rural districts by the end of 2016.

The first phase of the programme, according to government, involved the distribution of 53,000 six-kilogramme gas cylinders and stoves with all related accessories in 13 districts in 2014.

Under the programme, initiated by the Ministry of Energy and Petroleum, beneficiaries will be given the gas cylinders and accessories worth GH¢160 free of charge but will be required to pay for the gas.

Mini-gas-refilling plants and vending points will be set up for the beneficiaries to go and exchange their used cylinders with already filled and checked gas cylinders.

The National Petroleum Authority (NPA), the Ghana Cylinder Manufacturing Company, the Bulk Oil Storage and Transportation Company (BOST), and the Energy Commission are supporting the rural LPG promotion programme.

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