In a bid to attain the vision of Ghana Beyond Aid, the Ministry of Finance and the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) have agreed to review bilateral cooperation in various sectors of the economy.
To that end, a working group is to be set up at the political and the technical levels to draw a work plan to concretise the understanding between the two entities.
The decision was the outcome of a meeting between the Minister of Finance, Mr Ken Ofori-Atta, who is leading the Ghanaian delegation currently in Japan, and the Vice-President of Japan, Mr Hiroshi Sato, and officials of JICA in Tokyo.
While expressing profound appreciation for JICA’s support to Ghana, Mr Ofori-Atta said recent economic achievements were expected to propel the country on a new growth trajectory, which called for the redefining of relationships with bilateral organisations such as JICA.
“After stabilising the economy within a year, we are at a critical junction to register strongly the direction of the relationship we want to have with our partners, hence this visit,” he stated.
Issues discussed which received favourable consideration from Japan, ranged from ongoing JICA projects in infrastructure, health, education, agriculture, trade, among others.
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New projects which were also discussed included support to establish an international financial hub, the construction of the Accra-Tema metro rail and support for an endowment fund to transform the Noguchi Memorial Institute for Medical Research into a global research centre.
“Such strong iconic projects will cement the relationship between our two countries and clearly register Japanese presence in the region,” he explained.
The Ghanaian delegation proposed a review of the JICA flagship volunteer programme for it to be transformed into an exchange programme for Ghanaian nurses to work as volunteers in Japan for a period.
Non-project grant for the private sector
The minister also made a strong case for the re-instatement of the Japanese non-project grant for the private sector, which he said could boost the country’s flagship programmes, such as the One-district, One-factory (1D1F) and the Planting for Food and Jobs.
Discussions were also held over a possible public-private partnership (PPP) arrangement for the construction of new regional hospitals in the Western and the Eastern regions, the expansion of the universal health programme at the basic level to cover the whole country and the establishment of the Kaizen Centre in Ghana.
Supporting private sector
Mr Sato, for his part, assured the Ghanaian delegation that JICA would continue to work to improve bilateral cooperation.
He said the organisation had changed from purely government-to-government cooperation to supporting the private sector as well.
He assured the delegation of continued cooperation between the two countries and pledged to consider increasing intake for the human resource capacity-building programmes and the volunteer programme.
Ongoing JICA projects in Ghana
Ongoing JICA projects in the country include the volunteer programme, which celebrated its 40th anniversary last year, international road improvement, the Tema Motorway Roundabout and CHIPs compounds in the three regions of the north.