In Ghana, a victory for energy efficiency

UNDP Ghana
Energy efficient refrigerators help consumers save about $ 25 a month from electricity consumption. Photo: Bossman Owusu/ UNDP in Ghana.

“I don’t have anything against old things, but when it comes to refrigerators, I can find a million reasons why new is better than old,” says George Effah Baffoe, a retired engineer and father of five as he turns in his old refrigerator for a new, energy-efficient one.

Together, the 2 million fridges and air conditioning units used in Ghana consume three times more energy than the maximum allowed in countries with more solid regulations. To this day, many people spend an additional US $50 to $100 on electricity every year because their appliances use so much extra energy.


  • 15,000 fridges, freezers and air conditioners are expected to be replaced by end of 2015.
  • More than 4,000 units have been swapped already.
  • A ban on second hand fridges has led to a 63 percent drop in their imports.
  • Consumers interviewed by UNDP said they are saving USD 25 per month in electricity costs.

Across the country, every inefficient appliance generates over 0.7 tons of carbon emissions each year. When they are improperly discarded, many units release up to two tons of ozone-depleting substances into the atmosphere.

To tackle the issue, the Government of Ghana launched a “rebate and turn in” programme in September 2012, with the support of UNDP and the Global Environment Facility (GEF). The scheme encourages consumers to exchange their old refrigerators for new and efficient ones, available at a discounted price.

A massive campaign was launched on television and the radio, reaching out to the general public on energy efficient appliances, standards and labels.

Having learned about the rebate scheme through a radio promo, Mr. Baffoe turned in one of his old refrigerators for a three-star equivalent and received a rebate of $70.

He now saves $25 per month on electricity.

“As a retiree, this amount is very significant. It is especially beneficial at a time like this, when the electricity company of Ghana has increased tariffs across the country,” he says.

Thanks to the programme, more than 4,000 units have been exchanged across the country and 15,000 are expected to be replaced by the time the initiative ends in 2015. The law now requires that all new refrigerators carry official energy efficiency labels.

A ban on second-hand fridges has also led to a 63 percent drop in their imports.

UNDP and GEF have so far invested over $1.6 million into the programme, helping the Energy Commission and Environmental Protection Agency to bring scrap dealers, retailers and consumers into the scheme.

“If we are able to reach our planned target, a total of 9,000 Mwh could be freed, with a potential of powering 3,000 households,” says the project coordinator at the Energy Commission of Ghana, Eric Kumi Antwi-Agyei.

As part of the UN’s Sustainable Energy for All (SE4All) initiative, Ghana has embarked on a UNDP-supported action plan to provide universal energy access, improve energy efficiency and increase renewable energy for all Ghanaians by 2030.

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