Accra, April 14, GNA - The solution to electricity accessibility in Africa lies in renewed commitment to integrate the sub-regional economies to enhance the pooling of energy resources for development, Professor Mike Ocquaye, Minister of Energy has said.
He thus urged African governments to demonstrate ultimate commitment to giving real meaning to the ideals of the various regional economic blocks on the continent.
"For example, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) and many others on the continent must work hand in hand to remove all non-trade barriers to further enhance intra-regional trade", the Minister added.
Prof Ocquaye made the call at the launch of the 15th Congress and Exhibition of the Union of Producers, Transporters and Distribution of Electric Power in Africa (UPDEA) scheduled for June 6 to 10 in Accra. The congress and exhibition, to be run concurrently, would create a platform for the exchange of experience and ideas among African utilities, development partners and specialised institutions in the energy sector.
About 400 delegates representing 35 African countries and some affiliate members from Europe and America would attend the Congress, to be opened by President John Agyekum Kufuor.
Prof Ocquaye said the theme for the Congress; "Access to Electricity for all people of Africa through a pooling of energy resources", was indeed a perspective the Government of Ghana shared. He said, "the government of Ghana understands even more acutely the urgent need for the realisation of access to electricity for all the people of Africa. There is an even more heightened sense of immediacy for this realisation, particularly in Ghana given our national strategic goal to become a Middle Income Country by 2010."
He therefore, described the UPDEA, as an ideal entity that could help build productive partnerships with the government of Ghana. He said UPDEA and the World Energy Council could support national development in a number of significant ways, including raising the profile of the issue of rural energy with the World Bank and other multi-lateral organisations.
He said, for instance, more than half of the world's population that dwelled in rural areas depended on traditional fuels of wood, dung and crop residue, often using obsolete and inefficient technologies that barley allow fulfilment of the basic human needs of nutrition, warmth and light.
He urged the delegates to explore ways of producing meters, cables and allied engineering gadgets in the region and supply them at affordable prices to the people.
Mr Joshua Ofedie, Chief Executive of the Volta River Authority, expressed regret that though Africa had plenty of energy resources, the pace of development and distribution has not been satisfactory because the member countries had not been able to develop the resources as individuals.
He therefore said that, by coming together in the form of UPDEA, Africa stood a better chance of receiving assistance from its development partners so as to satisfy its growing energy demands. In accordance with the UPDEA convention, the country that hosts the Congress becomes its next President for a three-year term. Accordingly, the VRA, under the auspices of the Ministry of Energy becomes the President of the UPDEA from 2005-2008 after the June Congress.