The Centre for Energy, Environment and Sustainable Development (CEESD), in collaboration with the Netherlands Development Organization (SNV), a Non- governmental Organizations (NGOs) under the Voice for Change Partnership (V4CP) has organized a day's workshop for the Kwahu Afram Plains North District Planning Coordinating Units on mini-grid electrification.The workshop was to help build the capacity of members of the District Planning Coordinating Unit on the issues of mini-grid and how the Assembly could take advantage of the mini-grid electrification programme to extend electricity to island and remote communities within Afram Plains.
Speaking at the workshop, Dr Julius Ahiekpor, the Executive Director of CEESD, said recent reports on the global deficit of energy accessibility indicated that about 62.5 per cent of Sub Saharan African population lacked access to electricity.
He said though Ghana was doing well when it came to access to electricity, there were still about 15 per cent representing five million people who were not connected to electricity and out of that, about three million resided in lakeside and island communities, thereby making it difficult to be connected to the national grid.
He explained that among the challenges in extending electricity to the Islands and the riverside lands was the high cost of underwater infrastructure, low level of economic activities and scattered nature of communities that affected the extension of electricity to the hard to reach areas especially in the Afram Plains and the Volta Region.
He indicated that universal access to electricity cannot be achieved if electricity was not extended to the island and lakeside communities with ever increasing population.
Dr Ahiekpor said the government therefore saw the need to introduce mini- grids to those communities to improve on the social and economic lives of inhabitants living in those areas.
The mini-grids, he noted were matured and cost-effective technological solution, which have been shown to provide high quality and reliable source of electricity to those communities and therefore must be embraced.
Mr Edem Bensah, an energy expert at CEESD, indicated that mini-grids serve the same purpose as the national grid, but the difference was that, electricity was generated and distributed within the community and in the case of a community managed-model, the communities would be solely in charge of providing services such as its maintenance and operation.
He said Ghana was currently implementing a public-led model, even though discussions were still going on to involve the private sector and also communities to be able to accelerate the deployment of mini-grids to those hard to reach islands.
He therefore called on the government to partner the private sector in speeding up with the implementation and installation of the mini-grids to the selected island and lakeside communities across the country.
In his closing remarks, the District Chief Executive, Mr Samuel Kena, appealed to the Ministry of Energy to expand the mini-grid programme to some of the island communities in his district.
He indicated that the scattered nature of most of the communities may be the reason why extending electricity was a challenge and therefore inaugurated a five-member district sub- committee tasked to prepare an electrification plan for the district for inclusion into the Medium-Term Development Plan.
The committee was tasked to identify all communities that can be provided with the mini-grid.