SAMSET: An Imperative Project for Africa

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Simon Bawakyillenuo and Innocent K. Agbelie of the University of Ghana offer their thoughts on the project.

Designing, testing and evaluating a knowledge exchange framework to facilitate sustainable energy transition among Sub-Sahara African cities and municipalities could not have come at a better time taking into account the proliferation of urban centres in most African countries and their accompanying weak structures. As one of the partners of SAMSET project, Ghana will benefit immensely through learning and sharing lessons with the other SAMSET project countries in Africa (South Africa and Uganda) in a bid to build a formidable sustainable energy transition path.

The predominance of wood fuel in the energy consumption mix of Ghana, coupled with inefficient charcoal processing and cooking technologies have the propensity to wreck more havoc on the already depleted forest cover in the country in the absence of sustainability measures. Additionally, the over-reliance on the Akosombo hydro-power plant, which is susceptible to climate change and climate variability, necessitates a paradigm shift that will embrace the use of alternative energy sources such as new renewable energy technologies (solar, wind, bioenergy, etc.). In this regard, institutional strengthening and capacity building as well as national sensitization are very imperative for the provision of a holistic solution to these problems. The roles, expertise and experiences of Sustainable Energy Africa (SEA), Durham University, University College London (UCL) as well as the Gamos, who are all partners of the SAMSET project are sine qua non in facilitating the development of a practical knowledge framework, which will enhance the mainstreaming of clean energy technologies into the development plans of various cities and municipalities in Ghana.

The substantial progress already made by some municipalities in South Africa regarding the adoption of different forms of renewable energy technologies is a model worthy of emulation by other cities and municipalities in Africa. Significant among the factors underpinning this success are strong institutional arrangement and government support. Therefore, the process dynamics of SAMSET, which takes into account the involvement of relevant and enthusiastic stakeholders at selected municipalities, is indispensable in creating a platform that will fortify the transition to sustainable energy practices in cities and municipalities in Ghana and others in Sub-Sahara Africa.

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