Government distributes 8,000 solar lanterns to communities

Street LightGovernment on Wednesday began the distribution of over 8,000 solar lanterns to about 16 beneficiary districts in selected regions of the country under its kerosene lantern replacement programme.

The districts, with remote off-grid communities, includes Sefwi, Akonatombra and Bia in the Western Region, Assin South in the Central Region, Dangbe East in the Greater Accra Region, and Nkwanta South, Biakoye and Keta Municipal in the Volta Region.

Other beneficiary districts are Upper Manya Krobo, Kwahu North and Suhum-Kraboa Coaltar in the Eastern Region, Kintampo North, Sene and Pru in Brong Ahafo Region and Central Gonja, Bole, Tolon Kumbugu in the Northern Region.

Mr Emmanuel Kofi Armah Buah, Minister of  Energy, said at a short ceremony that the lantern replacement programme, which was launched in February  this year, was to save the country GHȼ50 million spent annually to subsidize kerosene.

He said in spite of such government interventions, kerosene supply to rural areas for lighting had been very erratic as a result of supply shortages and high price volatility.

He said the subsidization of kerosene prices had also led to diversion of the subsidized product for adulteration with diesel.

Mr Buah said this is sold for the price of diesel which had also resulted in scarcity of kerosene for target groups and many households in off-grid rural areas.

“Because of the situation, government is putting up measures to take off the subsidies but we also want to ensure that all areas that are off the national grid have access to these solar lanterns before we stop the subsidies,” Mr Buah said.

He said government intended to distribute over 200,000 lanterns by 2015 to communities which did not have access to the national grid at a subsidized price of 70 percent.

A cost of the lantern is GHȼ90 but government is giving it out at GHȼ30.

Mr Wisdom Ahiataku-Togobo, Director in charge of Renewable Energy, Ministry of Energy, said studies had shown that using solar lanterns was cost effective and environmentally friendly as they did not emit hazardous smoke of CO2 into the atmosphere.

He said the lanterns had minimal battery replacement which was very safe for human health and the environment.

The distribution is being done in three phases. The first phase would ensure that 50,000 lanterns were imported for distribution.

Under the second phase, 500,000 lanterns would be locally assembled in Ghana while the third phase would involve the training and partnership with locals to manufacture the lanterns in the country, he said.

Source: GNA


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