The Senior Policy Analyst at the Africa Centre for Energy Policy (ACEP) has said the task of achieving the Sustainable Development Goal 7 (SDG 7) may be daunting; however, it is not impossible.
Jo Ann Sackey said with strong leadership and the political will, the needed policies and measure can be made financially sustainable, especially energy efficiency, which should be made accessible to all.
Ann Sackey said this in an address at the Third International Multi-Disciplinary Conference for Post Graduates Students at Winneba.
It was on the topic, Achieving the sustainable Goal 7 (Affordable and Clean Energy); the Role of Member State.
The conference, with the theme, “Attaining the Sustainable Development goals through research”, was organized by the Graduate Students Association of Ghana, University of Education (GRASAG-UEW) chapter.
Mrs Sackey said, as a people, we must embrace the SDG 7 and participate in advocating the policies required to facilitate its implementation, both at the country level and on international platforms.
“This means that the attainment of the SDG 7 is a shared responsibility and we must change our attitude to conform to the efficient use of energy, and start the adoption of renewable technology in our own small way; maybe one solar panel at a time, to cut dependence on the grid and the fossil-based generation systems”.
She said the rural communities must also be supported with simple renewable solutions for charging their mobile phones, listening to radio, as well as the provision of simple energy sources for agro-processing, lighting and education of the younger population.
She said according to International Energy Agency statistics of 2017/2018, the World’s energy demand, fuelled by population growth and global economic development, increased by 2.1% in 2017 with the global economy expanding at an average rate of 3% and a global population projected to be about 9 billion by 2040, greater effort is required to ensure that world energy demand, for all purposes, is met in a sustainable and reliable manner”.
Mrs Sackey said, Sub-Saharan Africa presents the greatest challenge in attaining universal electricity access by 2020, adding that, the 2015 Africa Panel Report indicated that many Sub-Saharan African countries struggle with making electricity accessible due to insufficient power generation capacity, coupled with poor transmission and distribution infrastructure.
“On the demand side, affordability, which plays a key role in enabling access, remains a great challenge, households in rural communities cannot afford the initial connection cost and the electricity tariffs due to low incomes and unavailable financing options to reduce the cost of connection charges”.
According to the Senior Policy Analyst, solving energy access requires more than to say “Let there be Light,” Member state must develop tailor-made policy interventions, taking into consideration economic factors, available resources, the energy intensity of the economy and other social factors.
“Ensuring that utilities are financially sustainable should be of primary focus and improving operational efficiency should be the top most area of policy focus”.
She indicated that, reduction of operational inefficiencies, such as the combined transmission, distribution, and bill collection, losses up to 10 per cent of dispatched electricity, and tackling other areas like overstaffing will improve the financial state of utilities.
Government must make a conscious effort to remove the barriers, which prevent renewable energy and energy efficiency from playing a role in expanding electricity access, and that global collaboration is required to promote technical advancement through research and development and the transfer of technical know-how, she added.
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