Accra, Sept. 22, GNA - Ghana and India are collaborating to adopt an integrated energy-based rural development programme aimed at ensuring that rural folks pace up in development comprehensively. The programme under the National Electrification Programme and facilitated by the Ministry of Energy and WAPCOS, a public sector electricity company of India, seeks to make the use of energy beneficial.
It is also to create the opportunity for the development of small-to-medium scale industries in rural areas and to create employment for the more than 60 per cent of the people who live in the countryside. Addressing participants at a seminar on the subject in Accra, Professor Mike Ocquaye, Minister of Energy, noted that the main purpose of the electrification scheme was to provide energy infrastructure to reduce poverty especially in rural settings, thus increasing the overall socio-economic development of the country.
He said the Ministry had since 1990 implemented the National Electrification Scheme, which was aimed at extending electric power throughout Ghana by 2020.
Prof. Ocquaye said the reduction of poverty was one of the major challenges of government especially in rural areas, stressing, "we can only do this if we empower our people by creating opportunities for generating wealth and employment and this we can do by providing electric power".
Prof. Ocquaye noted that rural electricity if fully realized, would assist in averting rural-urban drift. It would also improve other sectors of the economy, such as agriculture, health, education, information, tourism and communication technology. He said communities connected to the national grid had increased significantly to 45 per cent, up from the 15 per cent in 1990 and that there were 478 communities with electricity.
Prof. Ocquaye said while the scheme had been successful, Ghana had been less successful in exploiting its productive uses adding that the county would tap heavily into the Indian experience where modern forms of energy in rural or semi-rural areas had led to a tremendous transformation of lives.
Mr Rajesh Prasad, Indian High Commissioner in Ghana, said Indian-Ghana relations had blossomed over the years and urged a significant improvement in cooperation beyond the 102 million dollars India has provided towards programmes and projects in Ghana. 22 Sept. 05