The Universal Merchant Bank (UMB), under the government’s flagship One-district, One-factory (1D1F) initiative, has signed a public/private partnership (PPP) agreement with Central Sugar Company Limited, a starch processing company at Prang in the Brong Ahafo Region.
“The move is to fulfil promises made last year to support the 1D1F initiative,” the Chief Executive of the UMB, Mr John Awuah, explained to journalists after the signing ceremony in Accra on Tuesday.
Under the agreement, the UMB, through its UMB PPP Incubator Centre, is providing funding to the tune of $10.7 million to Central Sugar Company to produce starch in commercial quantities from its base at Prang in the Pru District in the Brong Ahafo Region.
The UMB PPP Incubator Centre was inaugurated last year with the aim of partnering the government and private businesses to boost industrialisation through the creation of factories in all districts across the country.
The project, to be constructed by the China National Building Material Company (CNBM), is expected to be completed in 18 months.
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Mr Awuah stated that the UMB was the first private financial institution to finance a project under the 1D1F initiative.
He said the establishment of the UMB PPP Incubator Centre was to offer financial and technical support to private sector entrepreneurs and businesses that had interest in the 1D1F initiative and other PPP projects.
He said the bank had committed funding of about $100 million to help in the development of the 1D1F initiative.
“There are 22 of such transactions that we are considering, about four of which are already in advanced stages of getting approved,” he said.
He added that the factory, when completed, would provide employment and contribute to the development of the economy.
“The 1D1F is an initiative that needs all on board. It is not just a government initiative but a government working with the private sector. As a bank, we seek to assist private businesses and enhance the economic growth agenda.
“That is why we intend to ensure the success of this starch processing project and at the appropriate time the bank will announce many more projects under the 1D1F initiative,” he added.
Mr Awuah asked business owners and private sector organisations to visit the UMB Centre for Business and the UMB PPP Incubator Centre to develop their businesses.
The Minister of Trade and Industry, Mr Alan Kyerematen, speaking at the ceremony, lauded the UMB PPP initiative, saying that it would help curb rural-urban migration and increase the country’s foreign exchange and resources.
“The 1D1F has the potential to enhance the skills of people and also help reduce the importation of goods into the country,” he said.
Clarifying misconceptions about the 1D1F initiative, he said “the 1D1F is a government initiative but driven by the private sector. Also, the government is supporting the private sector to be able to establish industries all over the country.”