Rejoinder: Tension Brews In Buipe Communities Over Solar Lanterns

The attention of the Ministry of Energy and Petroleum has been drawn to a publication in the 12th May 2014 edition of the Today’s newspaper which was purported to have been culled from a website, with the caption: “TENSION BREWS IN BUIPE COMMUNITIES OVER SOLAR LANTERNS.”

The publication states inter alia: “Tension is gradually brewing in 150 communities in Buipe a fishing community in the Central Gonja District of the Northern Region over the distribution of over thousand solar lanterns released by the Ministry of Energy to be distributed among residents of the Central Gonja Districts.

Information gathered from the Central Districts and its surrounding communities has it that residents including Chiefs of the 150 communities are bracing up against” peoples “who are believed to be aiding them in selling the solar lamps even though they are to be distributed for free.”

The publication then reports that “they are therefore calling on government to institute a committee of enquiry into the issue so as to avert any bloodshed”.

The Ministry views this publication not only as misleading but has the potential of discrediting an otherwise very good social intervention programme, the Solar Lantern Promotion Project.

The overall goal of the solar lantern promotion project being undertaken by the Ministry of Energy and Petroleum is to promote the use of solar lanterns as the main source of lightening in poor and vulnerable off-grid households through the replacement of kerosene lanterns. Therefore the modalities for the distribution of these solar lanterns are as follows:

•Solar lanterns are for sale only in the remote and inaccessible communities within beneficiary Districts at a subsidized cost of GHS 30.00 per lantern instead of the full cost of GHS 100.00

•Solar lanterns sent to any beneficiary district must be received by the District Assembly’s Storekeeper before distribution and a copy of the Store Receipt Voucher delivered to the Ministry of Energy and Petroleum

•It must be ensured that payment for lanterns sold is deposited into the Ministry of Energy and Petroleum Account Number 10186631520038 at the Bank of Ghana

•Names and contact phone numbers of beneficiaries must be provided to the Ministry of Energy and Petroleum for verification and monitoring purposes.

In the specific case of the Central Gonja District:

•The district qualifies to benefit from this programme because of the number of islands communities in the district that are remote and inaccessible.

•It is also not an anomaly to have each solar lantern been sold at GHS 30.00 as reported by the newspaper.

•The solar lanterns meant for the district were received in accordance to the modalities for distribution by the Storekeeper of the District Assembly by name Leseni Cecilia Aboya

.The names and contact numbers of the beneficiaries are yet to be delivered by the Assembly to the Ministry for monitoring.
It is therefore not accurate that “…the lamps are to be distributed … at no cost, and that the decision … to take GHS 30.00 from” the beneficiaries “is an act of insensitivity and wickedness.”

The Ministry therefore wishes to entreat all right minded Ghanaians to disregard the publication. The Ministry equally encourages Ghanaians including the Chiefs and People of the Central Gonja District not to hesitate to contact the Ministry of Energy and Petroleum for clarification on any Government policy on Energy should the need arise.

The Ministry takes this opportunity to thank Ghanaians for their support in the implementation of not only the Solar Lantern Promotion Project but all its projects and programmes.