The Ministry of Energy and Petroleum is to distribute 53,000 pieces of cylinders and cook stoves worth millions of Ghana cedis among rural people in 13 selected districts in the country by the end of the year.
Mr Emmanuel Armah-Kofi Buah, Sector Minister announced this in a speech read for him at the launch of the Rural LPG Promotion Programme being undertaken by the ministry at Derma, in the Tano South District of Brong-Ahafo Region.
He said government intended to distribute 200,000 to 350,000 cylinders and cooked stoves in all low access rural districts within the next three years.
The Rural LPG Promotion Programme was instituted by government, and aimed at helping to reverse the detrimental effect of the continuous burning of the more than 13 million tons of firewood annually.
Under the programme, it is expected that government will improve LPG access in rural areas from the current of about three percent to 15 percent by 2016.
Mr Buah explained that government through the Ministry of Energy and Petroleum, had over the years spearheaded the promotion of the use of LPG as a cleaner, safer and healthier form of cooking fuel for households.
He said the Ministry began such serious efforts around the late 1980’s, and raised overall consumption from 5,267 metric tonnes in 1989 to about 32,000 metric tonnes in 1996, adding that the promotion culminated in the setting up of the Ghana Cylinder Manufacturing Company to produce LPG cylinders and other related products and accessories for Ghana’s growing demand.
Mr Buah emphasised that all these and a number of efforts made so far by the ministry was to discourage the over-reliance on wood as a main source of fuel for especially people in rural communities.
He recounted that the maiden launch of the programme was held at Garu in the Garu-Tempane District of the Upper East Region last year where 1,500 pieces of 6kg LPG cylinders and cook stoves were distributed on Pilot basis.
Mr Buah explained that the ministry had partnered with LPG marketing companies and local dealers to facilitate the setting up of mini-refill plants in the communities to ensure that beneficiaries had constant supply of LPG.
This, partnership he observed would also help make the promotion meaningful by preventing beneficiaries and users from reverting back to wood fuels.
Mr Buah added that currently the ministry is working closely with the National Petroleum Authority, Ghana Cylinder Manufacturing Company, Bulk Oil Storage and Transportation Company, Energy Commission and other relevant stakeholders to come up with guidelines and regulations to re-introduce the Cylinder Re-circulation Model.
This model, he explained eliminate or reduce to very minimal levels the numerous health and safety LPG related incidents including fatal accidents that had been confronting the country in recent times.
Mr Zakari Bukari Anaba, Tano South District Chief Executive, said the distribution was an indication that government was committed to arrest deforestation in the country, and appealed to Ghanaians to lend their support.
He added that 4,000 pieces of the cylinders and stoves would be distributed in the district and urged beneficiaries to observe the basic safety precautions.