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ECG's 'light off' killed anti-malaria initiative by Atomic Energy Commission

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A five-year investment into a research initiative to breed anti-malaria mosquitoes by the Ghana Atomic Energy Commission (GAEC) was curtailed by the disconnection of electricity to the Commission by the Electricity Company of Ghana (ECG) in 2015.

The Minister of Environment, Science, Technology and Innovation, Professor Kwabena Frimpong-Boateng, told the Public Accounts Committee of Parliament (PAC) sitting on Monday that, the ECG cut off the power because of indebtedness, which killed all the mosquitoes and thwarted years of investment.

He explained that when the female Anopheles mosquitoes, which were nurtured at the radiation facility, mated with male mosquitoes, their offsprings would not have malaria parasites.

"I remember a few years back when the GAEC decided to go into the management of malaria. They (GAEC) had a laboratory and a radiator in which female Anopheles mosquitoes were kept.

"The idea of the research was that, we radiate them (the female mosquitoes). After the radiation experiment, we release them on the fields to mate with the males and their offsprings will not be able to transmit malaria.

"Just at the tale end of that experiment, the GAEC owed ECG and somebody was brave enough to go and turn off the light and kill all the mosquitoes. So we lost years of painful experiment. That is how they lost their investment", he said.

Prof Frimpong-Boateng supported by the Director General of the GAEC, Prof Benjamin Nyarko, and other directors of the Commission were at PAC sitting to answer queries raised about the Commission and its affiliates in the 2016 Auditor General's report.

Research Fund

Prof Frimpong-Boateng said the GAEC could be supported to carry out its research activities only when it received increased funding for research.

In that regard, he said the Cabinet had given approval for one per cent of the country's gross domestic product (GDP) to be dedicated to research.

He expressed the hope Parliament would approve the allocation of the one per cent of GDP to support research activities in the country.

Nuclear programme

Answering a question on the country's plans to develop nuclear energy for power generation, Professor Frimpong-Boateng said Ghana was one of the third world countries with capacity to develop nuclear energy for power generation as the country had the needed capacity and laws on nuclear energy.

He said the country had gone through the first phase and was at the tale end of the second phase in the implementation of the nuclear programme.

"We have to go through a process outlined by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). If there is any third world country that can do it, then it is Ghana. In terms of capacity, we have the School of Nuclear and Allied Sciences and the Nuclear Regulatory Agency. We have the necessary laws and training to be able to do that", he said.

Prof Frimpong-Boateng said the Cabinet had released $300,000 to the Ministry for the determination of a site for the setting up of a nuclear reactor for power generation.

"They (the GAEC) have done some studies and they have three potential sites. The final determination will be made", he said.

For his part, the Director General of the GAEC, Prof Benjamin Nyarko said the target was for Ghana to complete the development of its nuclear facility for power generation by 2029.

He said once the initial processes with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) were completed, it would take between five to six years for the nuclear reactor facility to be developed.

Source: Graphic.com.gh