The European Union (EU) has released 28 million Ghana cedis to support a project that seeks to promote bamboo as a new source of energy in Ghana and Ethiopia.
The project dubbed: "Bamboo as a Sustainable Biomass Energy: A suitable Alternative for Charcoal and Firewood Production in Africa," aims at increasing the use of bamboo as a source of energy for the poor while providing a more sustainable, environmental friendly and economical option to firewood and charcoal.
The 48-month project launched in March 2009-2013, is being coordinated by the International Network for Bamboo and Rattan (INBAR) in collaboration with the Governments of Ghana and Ethiopia.
Other partners are Rural Development and Promotion Centre (EREDPC), Ethiopia, Federal Micro and Small Enterprises Development Agency, (FeMSEDA), Ethiopia, Forestry Research Institute of Ghana (FORIG), Ghana Bamboo and Rattan Development Programme (BARADEP), Ghana and Nanjing Forestry University, (NFU), China.
A statement issued by the EU said it was absolutely critical that the processes of the project in both Ghana and Ethiopia respect existing government policies and proactively help in promoting sector governance issues and raising awareness of environmental aspects and consequences of the project.
In this respect people should be mindful of the deforestation taking place in both countries - and must understand the causes for this and be aware that simply introducing a new energy source may not necessarily in itself solve all the problems.
Mr. Jannik Vaa, Head of Infrastructure and Sustainable Development Section, EU Delegation Ghana, said the project did offer real opportunities and "we trust that the project will engage with governments in each country to make the intervention a successful pilot for larger scale at a later stage.
This will require the full support of the governments and most likely sector reforms which need to be sustained and extended in full co-operation with sector stakeholders, be they civil society organisations, industry or other important players."
The project, he noted was funded directly from the budget of the EU and the global intervention of EUR 450 million over four years was targeted at: "Environment and sustainable management of natural resources, including energy.
Mr. Henry Ford Kamal, Ghana's Deputy Minister of Lands and Natural Resource, said 70 per cent of Ghana's energy was obtained from wood sources, which without proper management was a serious affront to sustainable energy development in the country.
He said charcoal would continue to play a major role in energy in Ghana therefore; the idea of an alternative to wood charcoal was welcome, stressing that Ghana would promote the development of bamboo.
Mr. Yeragal Meskir Ejjigu, Director-General of Federal Micro and Small Enterprises Development Agency (FEMSEDA) in Ethiopia, in a speech said from current demographic growth patterns and the slow transition to other forms of household energy, "it appears that the natural forests and woodlands remain the main source of fuel wood and the pressure on these forests will continue until alternative energy sources are supplied to satisfy needs".
He stressed that the Ethiopian Government highly commended efforts currently being implemented with the support of the EU towards sustainable development of the resource as alternative energy to wood and charcoal.
Ms. Coosje Hoogendoorn, Director-General of INBAR, said the project was all about developing bamboo as an alternative to wood charcoal a major cause of deforestation in Africa.
She said it was discovered at the recent UN Conference on Climate Change in Copenhagen that one of the main causes of climate change was deforestation and degradation.
Ms Hoogendoorn said it was not only about climate but development of livelihoods, mitigation, reduction of emissions and adaptation to natural disasters.
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