Thursday, October 15, 2009

GHANA GOING GREEN: Riding that Cliche into the ground! (Part One)

Today's post is purely dedicated to the 2009 Blog Action Day, which topic for the year happens to be Climate Change. Readers must have seen this post already. But I think it makes for good reading time and time again, don't you?!! lol.

GHANA GOING GREEN: Riding that cliché into the ground!

“Going Green.”
Poor phrase is out and about like trash on a Monday morning – here, there and everywhere.
‘Greening Ghana’/‘Going Green’ /‘Ghana Goes Green’.
The perfect cliché to get the attention of people these days, what with the recent UN Summit focusing on Climate Change, The Road to Copenhagen prepping to talk about Climate Change with world leaders, and the Blog Action Day 2009 (15th Oct.) topic, which all bloggers around the globe voted to blog about … you got it … Climate Change!

Whilst we’re still saying ‘Go Green’ to look cool in Ghana, other countries are dishing out penalties to defaulters.
The world, when left undisturbed, is naturally green for a reason; and the innate longings of man always makes him/her gravitate towards natural points of life sustenance – beaches, lakes, forests, parks, waterfalls, hills, mountains, etc. How would I know? Simply list the locations most Ghanaians troop to on holidays, and you’ll be fine.

The Indians have a saying:
‘We do not inherit the earth from our ancestors; we borrow it from our children.’
Think about it.
The population statistics at the time of the Baby Boomers (generation), and those of today (current Generation Y) shows that we have one last shot at putting firm policies and regulations in place to manage our natural resources and eco-friendly initiatives. Hence, land, air, water, atmosphere, environment, population growth or dearth of it – all must now be protected and sustained at all cost.

Population and energy are just one of the coupled offshoots of the energy industry. It is very difficult these days to find a community with the perfect population size in most countries, Ghana included. Communities are either over-crowded or under-populated, and any research to identify the causes comes up with the lack of/abundance of facilities, as determinants.

Facilities thrive in the absence/presence of energy, and due to the fact that the entire nation depends on Akosombo (Aboadze thermal plant constantly facing problems and maintainance issues, and Bui still a political issue and far from completion), majority of Ghana’s population still lacks access to electricity. The minority who are lucky to be plugged on the grid still face unpredictable, inefficient, and unreliable power supply.

If there is one thing that can stop the rural-urban drift (along with its consequent ghost villages back home, slums and shanty towns in the cities, uncontrollable crime waves, unemployment, rapidly spiraling waste management inabilities in the urban areas, health issues, lower life expectancy, illiteracy and uneducation of the masses, frustrated and unambitious citizens riding high on corruptive and deceptive means of income), it will be access to efficient, reliable energy, as well as clean, healthy environments and sustainability-conscious industries and businesses.

The rural areas are often so lush, green, cool, and serene; abundant with food and undisturbed by vehicular and human traffic, that as soon as they are given energy, and hence, facilities and employment opportunities, their run-away inhabitants will flee back home and stay there. With a large number of city-dwellers close on their heels as well!

Our natural resources worldwide were so taken for granted and un-sustained that, within the last 200 years, every generation has had to pay back for this negligence, the compensation to Mother Earth increasing more and more with each half-century.

Our horizons are now bare, or laden with sky-scrapers (what an apt name!); Lake Chad has frighteningly been reduced to a mud bowl, and as for the Sahara Desert : coming soon to a garden near you!
You do not have to stare far off into the distance, or into Burkina Faso any more to see desert traits. With a glance, its right here in our Northern and Upper regions, steadily crawling southwards each year.

It’s time to run that cliché into the ground and grow a fresh approach to Green initiatives, a new attitude, and a new speech:
Making Green Energy a Culture in Ghana!
No more focusing on ‘Why solar/wind Technology is not Profitable’ or ‘Banks declare Renewable Energy as long-term, and hence, not Viable Investments’ or ‘Those on solar, biogas, wind are doing so to feel good with themselves, because there is no benefit/profit’.

Let us talk about ‘Renewable Energy forever = Fossil Fuels Shortage palaver’ and ‘What will you do if Akosombo should grind to a halt one day out of the blue?’ and ‘One gadget per household to start, is better than an entire facelift per Ghanaian’ and ‘College of Engineering and Renewable Energy grads of KNUST – the way forward for their skills and inventions?’ and ‘The Youth & RE-Sustainability – catching them young!’

It is only by education and awareness creation that Ghanaians will come to understand why we need to diversify our energy sources, and how it can be done relatively affordably; then they can appreciate the technology, which increases demand for the technology. This increase in demand means a wider consumer base for the technologies, which is really what is needed to nurture, grow, and make the industry profitable.

Who should educate the people for you to sell? You do it for yourself!
When it comes to employment and development on the industry, there’s a pretty penny to be made there as well. As far as I know, our students need the investment to make their ideas and inventions real, and we can all do that for them. Investing in these young engineers and illiterate inventors will help our Renewable energy remain in-country, and grow our economy, as opposed to sending it all to foreign manufacturers and suppliers.

Ghanaians can go on domestic renewable energy schemes on loans smaller than the car and personal loans that banks keep pushing on workers and businesspeople. Unfortunately, the banks refuse to do any research to come up with these investment possibilities, and are likely not to, until someone makes the industry a hot business success in the country!

We have been lazy in our efforts to switch to sustainability, waiting on others to take the responsibility of ensuring our quality of life, and that of our descendants. We continue to lie in the lazy chairs, but in the meantime, our fuel shortages keep getting more constant every weekend, our air keeps getting more polluted, out landfill sites can no more contain the levels of waste and rot we discard daily, we keep dropping dead of unfamiliar ailments, our life expectancy keeps decreasing, and Akosombo grows a little older each day, as more and more people tap into the grid on a daily basis.
In the meantime, do note that the meantime never lasts indefinitely …

Golda Addo
Founder, MD
Energy Solutions Foundation

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