NRGI calls for inclusive energy policies

Executive Director of IES, Nana Amoasi VII speaking at the forum. Inset: A member of the Federation contributing to discussions while Africa Program Officer of NRGI, Denis Gyeyir watches on.

-National processes urged to consider disability 

By Kizito CUDJOE

The Natural Resource Governance Institute (NRGI) is calling for a paradigm shift towards inclusivity in national energy policy development processes, aligning with both domestic legislation on disabilities and the global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Against the backdrop of the country’s ambitious 2070 target to transition away from fossil fuels to cleaner energy sources, NRGI stresses the imperative of integrating the voices and needs of persons with disabilities (PWDs) into policy frameworks, such as the National Energy Transition Framework (NETF).

According to the Africa Program Officer of NRGI, Denis Gyeyir, this move not only underscores a commitment to social equity but also bolsters the efficacy and sustainability of energy policies.

Speaking in an interview on the back of an engagement with the Ghana Federation of Disability Organizations on the country’s energy transition (ET) journey, in Accra, he emphasized that policy processes need to be more inclusive.

“The people who will be impacted by policy decisions ought to be consulted, and that includes PWDs. Our advocacy would be that policy development consultations should start very early, capturing all other views, and not to come back to engage excluded people later,” he stated.

In reference to the NETF, he asserted that in the process of developing the policy PWDs should have been engaged, and cited the Disabilities Act which makes provision for this.

He said, “Our call will be to ensure that the beginning of policy processes should be more inclusive and involve PWDs and all marginalized groups,” in the country.

Mr. Gyeyir explained that the training of PWDs on Ghana’s ET efforts among others was also informed by the need to bridge the information gap, ensuring that PWDs have access to “information that all of us are access to.”

“Some of them may not be able to listen to radio like you and I, some of them may not be able to read like you and I, so it is important that we bring the information in forms that they can also have access to this information,” he stated.

Furthermore, he said it was also to gather feedback, because these special groups, have special needs.

“The impact of energy transition over the years, even globally, we have realized that the more developed countries have an advantage in terms of their transition benefits. The same way within the country, there are also different groups that have advantage. So, those of us who have access to all the resources, information and all of that, are more advantaged than those who do not,” he stated.

Against this backdrop, he said it is important to gather feedback from these people who are less privileged to have sources of information and also to consider their views in the process of implementation.

“For example, if we are extracting new energy forms, where can they participate? What are the modes of participation? How can we move them in decision making? How can they be consulted? What are even their needs?”

“If you consider the needs of the entire population without considering the persons with disability, a huge part of our population is affected,” he noted.

He said “It is given this that we want to gather feedback on what their needs are. Adding that it is the vision of NRGI to ensure that there is inclusivity, and that no one is left behind.

By championing inclusivity, he said NRGI seeks to ensure that energy policies cater to the diverse needs of society, thus fostering a more equitable and accessible energy landscape in line with global development imperatives.

The engagement with PWDs is expected to promote inclusiveness in the implementation of the NETF for the Federation’s key groupings such as the Ghana Blind Union, Ghana Society of the Physically Disabled, and others.

The Executive Director of the Ghana Blind Union, Dr. Peter Obeng Asamoah, maintained that inclusion is a right and not charity, and cited the emphasis made by SDGs to ensure inclusion if any nation is to progress.

Speaking on behalf of the Ghana Federation of Disability Organisations, in an interview on the back of the training on NETF, he bemoaned their exclusion in the initial consultation leading to the development of the NETF.

However, he commended the efforts to fill the gap following their exclusion, saying that inclusion must be total if it is to be effective while expressing optimizing that other sectors will learn from the development.

Given that PWDs are equally impacted by ET, he entreated that the views of all marginalized groups including PWDs must be considered.

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