The president of Ghana, John Dramani Mahama, has revealed plans to increase a levy on oil products to fund up to 200,000 rooftop PV systems in the West African Country.

In Ghana’s state of the nation address last week, Mahama outlined proposals to increase the country’s ‘energy fund on levy petroleum products’ to GHS0.01 (US$0.02) to establish a renewable energy fund.

PV Tech understands that although provision for this facility was created in the Ghana’s 2011 renewable energy act, it has not yet been established, prompting crticism from pro-renewables groups in the country.

Mahama said the fund would enable residents and “micro enterprises” to install solar units on their rooftops. He said the government anticipated the fund would enable 200,000 systems to be installed, saving up to 200MW of power a day.

Another initiative to be rolled out later this year, Mahama said, was a prepaid solar meter, enabling residents of off-grid communities to “own and enjoy solar lighting”. This would be private sector-led, but supported by the government, Mahama added.

News of the various initiatives follows a separate pledge at the end of February by Ghana’s Energy Commission to create a market for solar power.

Although light on detail, a statement from the commission said it planned to ask Ghana’s parliament to approve “tax credits and other incentives that could provide attractive for solar energy production and purchasing in Ghana”.

In the statement, the commission’s chairman, Dr Kwame Ampofo, dismissed suggestions it wants new legislation requiring solar power in every home.

But he said parliament had the power to create regulations that encourage financial institutions to offer products to support solar power units, just as they offer “products such as car loans to clients”.

The commission said it hoped solar would become a “game changer in Ghana’s limited set of energy options”.

Indeed, in his speech, Mahama identified access to energy as one of his biggest priorities for the country, where demand is growing at 10% annually, requiring supply capacity to be doubled every eight years.

“The effects and frustrations posed by the power deficit are clearly felt in our work places, our homes, schools and hospitals. The storage of food, academic activity, and artisans such as barbers, hairdressers, welders, and health care providers are all feeling the pinch of the power shortage.”

Outlining a number of proposals, including the solar package, Mahama said: “I do not intend to manage the situation as has been done in the past. I intend to fix it.”

The potential of solar in West Africa will be explored in detail in Solar & Off-Grid Renewables on 21-22 April in Accra, Ghana. The event is hosted by PV Tech’s publisher, Solar Media, and will feature high profile speakers from government and industry. Details are available here.