Accra, June 28, GNA - Mr Boakye Agyarko, the Minister of Energy, has urged African leaders to be committed towards national electrification programmes in their countries, as a means of improving upon the socio-economic development of their people.
He said it was obvious that increasing the electrification rate of African countries would require enormous efforts, whether through grid or off-grid applications.
"In every challenging situation, however, various opportunities present themselves. We should therefore, be encouraged by such opportunities as we make efforts to address the low electrification rates of our continent," Mr Boakye Agyarko said in his remarks read on his behalf at the opening of the 2017 Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), Power and Energy Society (PES) PowerAfrica 2017 Conference.
The four-day event is on the theme: “Harnessing Energy, Information and Communications Technology (ICT) for Affordable Electrification of Africa”.
The conference, which is the fourth edition is being organised by Africans and friends of Africa, in Africa and for Africans.
The global outreach achieved by the PowerAfrica Conferences can be seen with participants representing 33 countries and for the first time this year hosting a website in both English and French.
Mr Boakye Agyarko said the National Electrification Scheme (NES) was instituted in 1989 as Ghana's principal instrument to achieve its policy of extending the reach of electricity to all parts of the country over a 30-year period from 1990 to 2020.
"The importance of the NES was seen in the fact that, at the beginning of the NES, only about 15 per cent of the total population of Ghana had access to electricity supply," said.
He noted that as of March, access to electricity based on population, stood at 84 per cent.
He said the goals and objectives of NES were targeted towards poverty reduction, especially in rural areas and increasing the overall socioeconomic development of the nation.
Mr Boakye Agyarko said one single thing which had kept the momentum of Ghana's electrification programme was commitment; adding: "I wish to note that since the commencement of the programme in 1990, all the various governments that we have had, have remained committed to it.”
On the use of ICT for affordable electrification, Mr Boakye said: "ICT in the power sector, particularly the use of smart metering is helping to address energy efficiency issues through the control of energy usage by end-users of electricity.
"Let us explore the possibility of addressing the revenue collection challenge, which has been one major issue affecting the reliable supply of power in our part of the world, through the use of ICT."
Dr Urenna Onyewuchi, the Chair of the IEEE PowerAfrica Steering Committee, said the purpose of the IEEE PES PowerAfrica Conference was to bring together investors, stakeholders, experts, professionals, researchers and students with engineering, finance, and social science backgrounds from companies, research and development organisations, academics, government and financial institutions from around the world in order to share and discuss advances in the development and deployment of technologies and business models for affordable electrification.
Ms Ngalula Sandrine Mubenga, Founder and Chief Executive Officer, SMIN power Group and Ms Onyi Nzimako, Senior Simulation Engineer, Renewable Applications, RTDS Technologies Inc are the co-chairs of the IEEE PES Power Africa 2017 Conference.