Ghana to attract investment into bio-energy sector

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Ghana to attract investment into bio-energy sector

ACCRA, Oct. 4 (Xinhua) -- Ghana has put in place mechanisms to attract investments into the biomass and bio-energy sectors to stimulate rural development, create jobs and save foreign exchange, a senior government official said here Thursday.

Speaking at the Second Biomass West and Central Africa Congress here, Deputy Minister for Energy Inusah Fuseini said the vast arable and degraded land mass of Ghana had the potential for the cultivation of crops and plants that could be converted into a wide range of solid and liquid bio-fuels.

The two-day congress aims to provide networking opportunities for key buyers, suppliers and investors in the African biomass industry.

Fuseini said the development of alternative transportation fuels could help Ghana to diversify and secure her future energy supplies, and therefore invited investors to take advantage of the country's favorable business climate and opportunities to invest in the bio-energy sector.

Fuseini said opportunities for investment in the bio-energy subsector existed in the areas of production, transportation, storage, distribution, sale, marketing and exportation.

"The goal of the government of Ghana regarding bio-energy, as articulated in the energy sector policy, is to modernize and examine the benefits of bio-energy on a sustainable basis," he stated.

Africa is well endowed with a variety of energy resources, with biomass constituting the main energy resource for the large majority of African households for cooking, drying and space heating.

Energy consumption in Africa is largely dominated by combustible renewable resources (biomass, animal wastes, municipal and industrial wastes).

Many sub-Saharan African countries, including Ghana, apart from fuel, see bio-fuels as a way to stimulate rural development, create jobs and save some foreign exchange.

Biomass is Ghana's dominant energy resource in terms of endowment and consumption, with the two primary bio-fuels consumed being ethanol and biodiesel.

To that effect, the ministry of Energy in 2010 developed the energy sector strategy and development plan.

Highlights of the key policy objectives strategy for the renewable energy subsector include sustaining the supply and efficient use of wood-fuels while ensuring that their utilization does not lead to deforestation.

The minister said the plan would support private sector investments in the cultivation of bio-fuel feedstock, extraction of bio-oil and its refining into secondary products, thereby creating appropriate financial and tax incentives.

"The Renewal Energy Act provides the necessary fiscal incentives for renewable energy development by the private sector, and also details the control and management of bio-fuel and wood- fuel projects in Ghana," he added.

Fuseini said the National Petroleum Authority (NPA) was tasked by the Renewable Energy Act 2011 to price bio-fuel blend in accordance with the prescribed petroleum pricing formula.

The combined effects of climate change, the continued volatility of fuel prices, recent food crisis and global economic turbulence, he noted, had triggered a sense of urgency among policymakers, industry and development practitioners to find sustainable and viable solutions in the area of bio-fuels.

Currently, the United States and Brazil, which make ethanol from maize and sugarcane respectively, are the world's two largest bio-fuel markets.

In Africa, there are prospects of bilateral and multilateral aid transfer for climate change mitigation through the development of bio-fuels.

The Biomass Congress will address critical issues on new regulatory and legal frameworks to promote biomass and bio-energy, latest developments in feed-in tariffs, and initiatives towards bio-energy policies in the Economic Community of West African States. Enditem

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