The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) are eight goals with measurable targets and clear deadlines for improving the lives of the world’s deprived people. To meet these goals and eradicate poverty, leaders of 189 countries signed the historic millennium declaration at the United Nations Millennium Summit in the year 2000. However, renewable energy is reliable, abundant and will potentially be very cheap once technology and infrastructure are improved. It includes solar, wind, geothermal, hydropower and tidal energy, plus biofuels that are grown and harvested without fossil fuels. Non-renewable energy, such as coal and petroleum, require costly explorations and potentially dangerous mining and drilling, and they will become more expensive as supplies decrease and demand increases.
Before I start with this submission, I would like to talk a bit about the MDGs of Ghana and Ghana herself. Ghana is a Republic with her income group belonging to lower middle income, also member of the Sub-Saharan Region of Africa and also belonging to IDA lending category and HIPC. Listed below are the MDGs of Ghana:
- To eradicate extreme poverty and hunger
- To achieve universal primary education
- To promote gender equality and empower women
- To reduce child mortality
- To improve maternal health
- To combat HIV/AIDS, malaria, and other diseases
- To ensure environmental sustainability
- To develop a global partnership for development
Renewable energies play a major role in the sustainability of every country including countries in Europe, Africa, Asia, America and many others with which Ghana is not an exception. Now, looking at our Millennium Development Goals in relation to renewable energies in Ghana, there is the tendency of achieving our MDGs. Let’s take a look at this diagram to throw more light on the consumption of energies in Ghana.
From this above diagram, we can see the energy consumption of Ghana. Currently there are about 4,911 installation of Solar systems to provide energy in Ghana. Now, what roles do they play in the country to help achieve our MDGs.
First of all, renewable energies are energies that will never run out, hence we can save enough money and channel them to most pressing areas like health and education, where we can achieve quality universal primary education, reduce child mortality, and combat HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases.
However, rural area are also going to have a share of this blessing, since most rural areas in Ghana are left out when it comes to hydroelectricity, biogas, thermal generation, tidal and many others. This is because the source of power for solar shines everywhere which is the sun. Now the role it is going to play in achieving the MDGs of Ghana is that, it is going to help improve the quality of life of the rural people hence ensure environmental sustainability.
As at 2003, about 81.2% of rural households in Ghana had no access to pipe borne water. They depended on streams, rivers and wells, and this water is not safe for drinking because of their contamination and lack of treatment. Until recently, solar water pumps were introduced hence bringing safer water to the poor, comprising women and children. This is therefore helping to eradicate hunger and improve health status of Ghanaian locals in the rural areas.
Again, renewable energies have an advantage over non-renewable energies and this advantage is an environmental advantage. Renewable energies are clean sources of energy that have a much lower environmental impact than conventional energies or non-renewable energies. Most renewable energies do not emit waste into the environment hence environmental pollution is minimal.
In Ghana, it is a fact that communities with electricity whether in the form of hydro or solar perform better in basic school examinations than those without electricity at all. Teachers also find it difficult to work in such communities therefore rejects offers to teach there. Distance learning or e-learning enjoyed by some students who have access to electricity are at the expense of those without.
Solar street lights in most communities and areas such as market places, lorry parks, bus terminals improves security and enhance movement of citizens travelling and moving from one place to another.
Most investments on renewable energies are done on workmanship and materials to build and maintain it. This therefore creates jobs and employment, hence fulfilling the first goal of the MDGs by eradication poverty and perhaps hunger.
Despite the positive impact of renewable energies (solar), they also have some challenges they pose. Research has made it clear that, systems especially solar systems work very well for the first three years and afterwards decline in efficiency and effectiveness. This is because developers withdrawal and handover to locals who have little knowledge about them and hence mismanage them. And also inadequate human resource to manage them well.
However, another major challenge is the high cost of energy delivery from solar energy and an unregulated market, also the life time of the solar panel is about 30 years, which means they do not last longer. Lastly, I would also like to talk about political influences on the project extension to communities and places. This is where politicians use their power to influence where these projects are supposed to be developed and shift them to places of interest to win political votes during elections. Technically, I believe renewable energies are blessings and they play a major role in many lives how much more in achieving the MDGs of Ghana.