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Govt, Chinese forge infrastructure delivery partnership

The government is embarking on a strategic initiative to cultivate a robust partnership with the Chinese private sector to advance infrastructural development through public private partnerships (PPP).

The partnership aims to leverage the expertise, resources and technology of the Chinese private sector to support the development of key projects in the areas of green and clean energy, waste to energy infrastructure, and electric vehicles assembly chain technology, artificial intelligence, airline and aviation services and a strong value addition industrial base for the country’s major raw materials.

The Minister of Finance, Ken Ofori-Atta, led a government delegation to China from January 25 to February 3, this year and held a series of important meetings with his Chinese counterparts.

He told the Daily Graphic in an exclusive interview in Accra yesterday that the stage was set for more enduring partnerships between the two countries.

Mr Ofori-Atta said the trip was an in-person follow-up to months of close engagement and cooperation with China, concerning Ghana’s external bilateral debt treatment and also to attract foreign direct investment (FDI) into the country.

“With the increasing role of PPP in fostering inclusive growth, bilateral partners such as China become key partners in Ghana’s quest to build and sustain industries, create jobs and improve our trade balance,” he said.

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Private sector meetings

Mr Ofori-Atta, who was accompanied by members of the Ghanaian business community, held separate discussions with China’s Vice Minister of Finance, Liao Min, the Vice-President of the China Exim Bank, Zhang Wencai, and representatives from the Ghana-Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao-Greater Bay Chamber of Commerce at a roundtable in Shenzhen.

At the meeting with the private sector, Mr Ofori-Atta said the delegation explored collaboration between the two countries on the production of electric vehicles, spearheaded by Huawei and Sunon Asogli, while the latter also committed to doubling its energy production in Ghana on the renewables by an additional 520 megawatts.

The finance minister said there was also collaboration between the Southern China Airline to explore the provision of aviation services for the West Africa region via a direct flight from Accra to Guangzhou to facilitate mobility between Ghana, West Africa and China.

Mr Ofori-Atta said a letter from the transport ministry had already been sent in that regard, through the efforts of Ghana’s Ambassador to China, Winfred Nii Okai Hammond.

“In essence, these discussions served as a follow-up to the maiden working seasons of the Ghana Mutual Dialogues where government representatives met with Chinese businesses in the country,” the minister said.

The delegation held discussions with the Hong Kong Stock Exchange to explore partnerships with the Ghana Stock Exchange in a bid to increase FDI from China.

Mr Ofori-Atta said the meeting also touched on how to deliberately explore investment opportunities that would allow Chinese businesses to invest, grow and succeed in Ghana.

Commitment from Chinese authorities

The finance minister said the Chinese government had demonstrated a strong leadership and support for Ghana through the Paris Club debt treatment process, as co-chair of the Official Creditor Committee (OCC) with France.

“They led efforts to provide the needed financial assurances on May 12, 2023, leading to Ghana securing International Monetary Fund (IMF) Executive Board approval for the $3 billion three-year Extended Credit Facility arrangement to support Ghana’s Post COVID-19 recovery programme,” Mr Ofori-Atta stated.

He said the recent trip had also helped to secure stronger commitments of the Chinese authorities in helping to further the country’s engagements with the OCC and the IMF, critically a commitment to expedite the MoU between Ghana and the OCC.

That, the finance minister pointed out, followed the agreement, in principle, reached on the broad parameters of Ghana’s official debt treatment on January 12, this year.

Economic outlook

Commenting on the country’s economic outlook, Mr Ofori-Atta said with the successful completion of the first review of Ghana’s IMF programme, there was a strong recognition that macroeconomic stability was emerging once again.

Inflation, which reached a 22-year high of 54.1 per cent in 2022, declined to 23.2 per cent in December 2023, with a relative strong performance of the cedi, improved tax revenue, and reduction in the policy rate to 29 per cent.

Mr Ofori-Atta said what the country had achieved since the beginning of the year was significant.

“With developments such as the $300 million World Bank money and the disbursement of $600 million from IMF, we are well poised to engender macroeconomic stability and growth,” he stated.

The minister added that the country had reached firm agreements with all of its creditors to complete the debt restructuring programme by the end of next month.

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