A Non-Governmental Organization, 350-Ghana Reducing Our Carbon, marks this year’s global climate strike with a virtual debate on the theme “COVID 19 has accelerated progress towards renewable energy development in Ghana”.
Informed by the staggering realities discovered in the energy sector by the novel coronavirus — for instance, only 28% of health facilities in sub- Saharan Africa have access to reliable electricity. The debate, therefore, was a call to the Government of Ghana to have a green plan in the country’s post-Covid 19 Recovery Plan.
Globally, the youth are demanding a bold climate action from their policy and decision makers. Hitherto, young people have often been described as politically disinterested especially in the area of climate politics. Motivated by Swedish student Greta Thunberg, young people are demanding and engaging more with their governments to design bold climate adaptation plans with annual climate strikes.
Structured along the British Parliamentary debating format, the debate provided participants with a comprehensive overview of the renewable energy sector in Ghana. The members of Government represented by an all-male debaters; Prime Minister, Richard Martey, Deputy Prime Minister, Daniel Anyorigya, member of Government, Perscoba Yaw Yeboah, and Government whip, John Agyekum Kuffour.
They argued forcibly using projects and policy initiatives undertaken by the government and private sector players to increase Ghana’s Renewable Energy contribution amidst Covid 19. Specifically, the members of government mentioned the $2.6m Power Africa facility to provide off-grid electricity to health facilities and the production of several solar-based handwashing machines to combat COVID 19, as renewable energy initiatives undertaken during this pandemic period. Also there was an argument on how the Government of Ghana seeks to revive the economy following a shrink in the country’s Gross Domestic Product by a percentage of 3.2 compared to last year and how government seeks to revive businesses and livelihoods as the monetary policy rate is stabilized at 14.5%. This development impliedly seeks to attract prospective green investments, reduce taxation i.e. tax holidays, tax exemptions, and tax rebates to businesses and individuals who venture into the renewable energy space. This would decrease the production cost of reviving companies who suffered huge losses during the novel Covid 19. Also the team forcibly argued on the development cycle of renewable energy processes which involves, identification, consultation, planning, financing, establishment, usage and exposure of Renewable Energy projects of which one way or the other, Covid 19 has accelerated its processes towards a green Ghana. The team defended their position, as there were numerous Civil Society Organizations that advocated for RE inclusion into the various Medium Term Development Plan of district assemblies within Ghana. Other debated submissions include but not limited to;
- Axcon Energy starts 5MW solar plant at Appolonia in 2020.
- Special Ice turns on 1MW solar power plant at 2020.
- Jubilee House goes solar as part of government’s renewable energy drive in 2020.
- The International Development Association through the World Bank is providing technical assistance to make more mini grids financially sustainable for homes and communities with the support from Ministry of Energy, Energy Commission and the Public Utility Regulatory Commission in 2020.
Conversely, the opposition government which was represented by an all-female debater; Leader of opposition, Nerissa E.L. Anku, Deputy opposition leader, Lilian Botswey, member of opposition, Anne Aleida Dameilda, and opposition whip, Sandra Brew.
They emphasized massive disruption caused to the supply chain due to the pandemic. Specific claims were made to the RE projects that has been halted during the pandemic and the significant increase in prices of RE supplies due to the shortages in supply. Also the team contended on the rise to taste and preferences in non-RE sources of Ghana electricity (hydro) as government partially absorbs the monthly bills of Ghanaians for the period of April to December in this Covid 19 era. Also there was a change in priority by the Government of Ghana to cushion supply of the effects of Covid 19 with an estimated amount of one billion Ghana Cedis of which such an amount could be used to build mini RE grids to support the energy sector. In addition, there was a halt in RE investments as prices of oil fell considerable during Covid 19. Additional submissions include but not limited to;
- Training for RE apprentices and enthusiasts reduced or moved to online and thus reduced manpower availability for the diffusion of Renewable Energy in 2020.
- Renewable Energy companies shut down during Covid 19 lockdown thus making these companies lose customers and profits.
- Renewable Energy products have run out of stock due to the closure of ports, boarders and airlines during Covid 19, making it difficult to export.
- The lockdown led to the shortage of RE products in effect the prices of such products has increased. This in effect has discouraged the public from patronizing in them.
More importantly, the debaters highlighted the continuous neglect of off-grid communities even in the pandemic.
The panel of judges consisted of a Researcher and Consultant Gideon Ofosu- Peasah and Lecturer and climate activist, Angela Okuley. The Moderator, Kofi Owusu-Berko, a Researcher and renewable energy activist.
Below are some links and flyers to the debate.