Press release

British Minister calls for solar revolution across Ghana

Grant Shapps visits Ghana to continue work on the UK's new Energy Africa campaign.

Minister Shapps visits PEG Ghana customers in the Abossey Okai area of Accra. Picture: Jessica Seldon/DFID.
Minister Shapps visits PEG Ghana customers in the Abossey Okai area of Accra. Men and women here use solar-powered electricity from the M-KOPA system to charge their mobile phones and light their homes and businesses. Picture: Jessica Seldon/DFID.

UK Minister of State for International Development, Rt Hon Grant Shapps MP, will visit Ghana this week to spearhead the next phase of the UK’s new Energy Africa campaign.

While electricity access in Ghana is better than much of Sub-Saharan Africa, the country still suffers regular power cuts and outages that affect households and industry. Solar technology and mobile payment systems exist in Ghana, yet less than 1% of households use solar energy.

During his visit the Minister will discuss Ghana’s involvement in the initiative with Minister of Power Honourable Dr Kwabena Donkoh, and highlight opportunities for solar and other off-grid solutions, such as clean cookstoves, to provide energy to many more people across Ghana and wider Africa.

Minister Shapps talks to David and Gideon who have just had a PEG Ghana solar panel installed on their roof. Picture: Jessica Seldon/DFID.
Minister Shapps talks to David and Gideon who have just had a PEG Ghana solar panel installed on their roof. They say it has changed their lives. They now have a light outside their home and David has a radio for the first time so he can listen to the local news. Picture: Jessica Seldon/DFID.

Launched in London last month with prominent Ghanaian and former UN Secretary General, Kofi Annan, the Energy Africa campaign will speed up access to household solar energy and lighting for people across Ghana and wider Africa.

Speaking on arrival in Ghana, Grant Shapps said:

The time is right to kick-start a solar revolution in Ghana and across Africa. It is not acceptable that two out of out three people in Africa simply do not have access to electricity.

Without a reliable energy supply at home people simply cannot go about their daily lives. Children cannot do their homework after dark, men and women are unable to charge their mobile phones, and families are forced to inhale the toxic fumes of kerosene lamps.

I look forward to working with the people of Ghana to spread solar energy right across the country, and hope the rest of Africa follows their lead in supporting the life-changing Energy Africa campaign.

At the current rate, Africa will not achieve universal energy access until 2080. This is 200 years after Thomas Edison invented the lightbulb.

And the time to act is now: the cost of solar photovoltaic panels has dramatically decreased, battery technology has improved thanks to the development of Lithium batteries, the efficiency of appliances has also improved, and the spread of mobile payment systems has enabled payment through micro pay-as-you-go and for solar companies to therefore deliver much needed power.

Minister Grant Shapps will also join the Global Alliance for Clean Cookstove biennial meetings and meet other senior members of Ghana’s Government.

Notes to editors

  1. The UK is a committed partner in Ghana contributing £300 million from 2011/12 to 2015/16. We have distributed 5.5 million bed nets, supported 140,000 children in basic education, assisted 170,000 of the poorest people through cash transfers, and supported 550,000 women with family planning. By the end of 2015-16 we will also have helped keep 80,000 girls in secondary school and 30,000 producers to access business services.

  2. Rt. Hon Grant Shapps is the Minister of State for International Development responsible for the UK’s development partnership with Africa. He was appointed as Minister of State at DFID on 11 May 2015. Previously, he served as Minister of State for Housing and Local Government in the Department for Communities and Local Government, Minister without Portfolio at the Cabinet Office, Conservative Party Chairman and Minister for Africa at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. Further information is available here

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Published 11 November 2015