Ghana will soon witness the introduction of net metering systems to allow for renewable energy penetration into the national grid system under the scaling up of Renewable Energy Programme (SREP) courtesy the Government of Switzerland.
The revelation came to light at a sod-cutting ceremony organised by Ghana’s Energy Ministry in collaboration with the Government of Switzerland for the construction of three (3) renewable energy mini – grids on three island communities in the Ada East District of the Greater Accra Region.
The construction of the renewable energy mini grids in the Ada East District will provide electricity access to about 2,000 inhabitants living on the three island communities namely Alorkpem, Aflive and Azizakpe.
Speaking at the ceremony, the Ambassador of Switzerland to Ghana, Philipp Stalder said the COVID – 19 pandemic had increased the need for electricity as more businesses and activities have gone digital and that it was important that the people in these communities were not left behind.
“Sending money digitally, proper healthcare and provision of quality education should be better possible once the mini grids are completed,” he said.
“Switzerland is committed to achieving the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.” He noted that Switzerland, through the Swiss State Secretariat for Economic Affairs, SECO, had been working with the Government of Ghana to achieve goal number 7 of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which seeks to ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all.
The Ambassador said SECO had been supporting the Ghana Energy Development and Access Project (GEDAP) under the Ministry of Energy since its inception, with the objective to improve efficiency in the power distribution system and increase access to clean and sustainable electricity. Adding that in total, Switzerland had contributed a total of 33 million dollars to the GEDAP programme.
“We are excited to be here especially given the delay in implementation partly due to a long procurement process, the COVID 19 pandemic and the associated travel and movement restrictions that came with it,” he said.
“It is my hope that work would commence as soon as possible and that the Swiss funded project will be completed on time so that you, the inhabitants of the communities on these islands, can have access to affordable, reliable and sustainable electricity’’. He said electricity access, although very important had struggled to generate financial resources in many countries, especially when it comes to rural electrification. Mr. Stalder said currently, global electrification rate is at 89 per cent with about 573 million people in Sub Saharan Africa having no access to electricity.
According to the World Bank, if efforts to increase electricity access are not sustained, this number could rise to about 650 million people by 2030.
He further disclosed that Switzerland and Ghana, have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to take action and collaborate on achieving climate commitments under article 6 of the Paris Agreement.
Mr. Stalder said Government’s policy to accelerate rural electrification, SECO found it key to assist in the electrification of island communities through renewable energy mini-grid systems.
He said through the programme, three mini-grids in Ghana had been remarkably successful in extending its national grid in the main lands.
“Electricity access stands at 85 per cent with the remaining unconnected communities being in the remote areas and on the islands such as the one, we are currently on.” Mr. Stalder reiterated that innovative and modern energy technologies had become essential in increasing electricity access and supply of energy to citizens across the country.
He said electricity access improves the quality of life of people, promotes economic growth and social equity as inhabitants could now engage in commercial activities that require the use of electricity.
“We believe that access to electricity will also improve food production and food preservation for the inhabitants of the community as the problem of storage will be solved,” Mr. Stalder said.
“It will also allow for school going kids to learn in the evening and access IT technologies powered by electricity to enhance their IT skills.”
He said this project funded by Switzerland does not only improve the lives of the people in these communities but also protects the environment by producing green energy which contributes to climate change mitigation.
The Ambassador encouraged Ghana to continue to initiate policies that promote the adoption of green and clean energy technologies in the power sector. “Unfortunately, climate change is a reality and becomes more and more a threat to the livelihoods of many around the world.”
He recalled that diplomatic relations between Ghana and Switzerland was established on their first people-to-people contacts with the arrival of the Basel Mission some 200 years ago. He said Ghana and Switzerland celebrate 60 years of bilateral relations this year; stating that also witnessed the historic visit of President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo–Addo to Switzerland at the end of February of this year, right before the global outbreak of the pandemic.
He expressed the hope that Ghana and Switzerland would continue to collaborate and work hard towards the promotion of sustainable clean energy for all.