solar-lanternsSeven districts in the Northern Region will benefit from the government subsidised solar lanterns under its kerosene/lantern replacement programme.

The beneficiary districts are: Kunbungu, East Gonja, West Gonja, Central Gonja, Bole as well as Nanumba South and Nanumba North districts.

Mr Wilson Togobo, Director in-charge of Renewable Energy at the Ministry of Energy on Monday presented the first 200 of the solar lanterns to officials of the Kunbungu District Assembly.

He explained that the solar lanterns are in two types- one type could be used up to 15 hours while the other type could last for nine hours.

He said the lantern could also be used to charge mobile phones and do not need electricity to power it.

?Another good thing is that it comes with a solar panel, which can last for 20 years,? he said.

The move by government is to save the country GH?50 million spent annually to subsidise kerosene and also reduce the phenomena of the commodity being smuggled to neighbouring countries.

Mr Togobo said in spite of the interventions, kerosene supply to rural areas has been erratic as a result of shortages and high price volatility.

?Due to the activities of middlemen the poor folk are not getting the kerosene to buy. Sometimes when they are lucky to get it, the price is on the high side.?

He said the subsidisation of kerosene had also led to diversion of the subsidised product to adulterate diesel.

?Because of the situation, government is putting up measures to remove 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,? he said.

Mr Ras Liberty Amewudo, an official of the Public Relations Unit at the Energy Ministry said government intends to distribute more than 200,000 lanterns by 2015 to communities, which are not connected to the national grid at a subsidised price of 70 per cent.

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

?As part of the second phase of the project, 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.

Mr Mohammed Alhassan, Kunbungu District Coordinating Director said less than 20 per cent of communities totalling about 134 in the districts are not connected to the national grid.

He called on the Ministry of Energy to support the area with solar enable machines to power farm implements.

Source: GNA

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