The Minister for Petroleum Mr Emmanuel Armah-Kofi Buah said government under the Rural Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) programme will scale up the distribution of free cylinders, cook stoves and related accessories to beneficiaries in low access areas.
He said this was being done to enable rural dwellers switch easily from wood fuels to LPG without paying for the initial investment costs.
The minister was speaking at a ceremony at Agona Nkwanta in the Ahanta West District of the Western region where he presented 1,000 LPG cylinders, cooking stoves and accessories to beneficiaries in the community.
According to the Minister, the Government seeks to create demand in these low access areas to incentivize private LPG marketing companies to set up there. “In this regard, I am pleased to inform you that last year we distributed 60,000 cylinders, cooking stoves and related accessories to households and we intend to distribute 100,000 by the close of 2016,” he said.
He said it was estimated that about 13,700 deaths occur each year in Ghana as a result of exposure to Household Air Pollution (HAP) from cooking, and more than 21 million people are impacted by exposure to HAP each year. In addition, more than 80 per cent of Ghana’s population uses solid fuels for cooking, which has widespread impact on human health and the environment.
It was to address these challenges that president Mahama in his February 25, 2014 State of the Nation Address promised that as part of efforts to discourage the reliance on wood as a source of fuel, Government will launch an LPG Promotion Programme aimed at reversing the deleterious effect the continuous burning of some 13 million tons of firewood annually is having on our environment. The programme is expected to achieve 50% LPG penetration in urban areas and 15% in rural areas. Under this programme, 50,000 LPG cylinders will be distributed.
The Minister said the government had accordingly put in place policies and programmes that would promote the use of LPG nationwide and also improve the health conditions of Ghanaians.
As part of the measures, he said, the government had introduced the rural LPG promotion programme under which rural folks would be given free cylinders and stoves but pay for the LPG.
“In order to achieve the laudable targets set by the President, my Ministry is collaborating with the National Petroleum Authority, the Energy Commission, the Ghana Cylinder Manufacturing Company, Ghana Gas and the Clean Cooking Forum to serve as a great opportunity to showcase Ghana’s work on increasing energy access and improving the lives of all Ghanaians through the broader use of clean and efficient cook stoves and fuels,” the Minister said.
The Minister said he was very confident of the sustainability of the programme because of the availability of indigenous LPG from the Atuabo Gas Plant.
Ghana Gas is looking to cover 70 percent of the LPG demand in the country. “It means that there will not be shortages as we used to experience in the past.”
The news is no doubt welcoming, especially to those whose livelihoods depend on the continuous supply of LPG, and in particular, commercial vehicle operators, and industries who have converted their heavy duty machines and equipment from diesel use to LPG, for cost consideration.
Consumption of LPG over the years has witnessed a considerable increase. It is estimated that automobile users of LPG consume about 58 percent of the total annual LPG supply while households, commercial operators and industry together consume the remaining 42 percent.
“With the coming on stream of the Gas Processing Plant, the country can expect to reduce its LPG import dependency drastically,” the Minister said.
“The Minister of Petroleum will engage in distribution of 1000 LPG cylinders in each of the following communities in the Western region: Enchi, Bodi, Sefwi- Akotombra, Sefwi-Wiawso and Sekondi,” he added.