3 January 2013 – The government of Ghana has set itself the target to achieve universal access to the national electricity grid by 2016. Initially the government set a target that by 2020 the country would have a universal access to the national electricity grid, but public relations officer of the ministry of energy, Edward Bawa, says the work on this initiative is moving faster.

In an interview with the Daily Graphic Bawa said the revised target set would be put under a different programme, while the Self-Help Electrification Programme (SHEP) would be cancelled. He says the government will bear all the cost of the connection of electricity to the various areas that did not have it.

The government will increase access to modern forms of energy to the rural areas through its own funding and concessionary loans. Under the SHEP communities were required to be within a distance of 20 kilometres from a source town, procure all low voltage poles and wire at least 30% of houses in the community before the government would move in to provide electricity.

According to Bawa 2,242 communities have been connected to the national grid under the SHEP since 2009. He says the government is updating the access rate, which should be higher than 72%.

Comparing the access rate of all the regions in the country, the three northern regions have the lowest coverage. To change this situation, 1,400 communities in the three regions of the north are being connected to the national grid at a cost of US$300 million.

Bawa says the cabinet has approved the national street lighting policy and the sector ministry has started mounting streetlights in the newly created districts. The policy seeks to provide street lighting facilities in the regional, metropolitan, municipal and district capitals. After the ministry has mounted the streetlights across all the district capitals and towns, these localities would cater for their maintenance and the paying of bills.

Since 2009 the government of Ghana has undertaken 9,536 solar system installations in deprived off-grid communities under the country’s solar electrification programme.

The solar systems provide basic power for vaccine refrigeration, as well as equipment including radios, computers, mobile phones and televisions. About 80 districts have so far benefited from this programme.