Ghana, France strengthen partnership to improve performance of SOEs

BY: Nana Konadu Agyemang
Mr Stephen Asamoah Boateng and Ms Anne Sophie Avé, French Ambassador to Ghana
Mr Stephen Asamoah Boateng and Ms Anne Sophie Avé, French Ambassador to Ghana

Ghana and France have renewed their commitment to strengthen performance in key public institutions to ensure sustainable growth, job creation and efficient public sector performance in the two countries.

The partnership will also enable the two countries to share knowledge and experience aimed at improving the fortunes of state-owned enterprises (SOEs).

Statement

In a statement jointly issued by the Director-General of the State Interests and Governance Authority (SIGA), Mr Stephen Asamoah Boateng, and the Ambassador of France to Ghana, Ms Anne-Sophie Avé, said: “This partnership is in line with the common views shared on the importance of effective governance for economic efficiency of SOEs in the two countries.

“The success of this collaboration which was launched in 2016 between the French Embassy and the State-Owned Enterprise Commission of Ghana led to the French Development Agency (AFD) of France to offer a €5 million grant to SIGA to improve expertise to further strengthen the operationalisation of the oversight functions of the authority and also work closely with the Ministry of Finance and Expertise France — a French international technical cooperation agency.

“We are thrilled to cooperate in this area as it is strategic for our countries to ensure sustainable growth, job creation and efficient public performance,” the statement added.

Role of SOEs critical

The statement also said Ghana’s SOEs continued to play essential roles of providing basic services such as water, electricity and transportation, as well as manage its national resources including gold, oil and gas, and the construction of major infrastructure.

As such, it said they contributed significantly to national wealth and turnover representing 15 per cent of GDP and also offered employment to nearly 50,000 people.

“In 1986, SOEs provided 25 per cent of France’s GDP. The Government of France remains a significant stakeholder in French companies in the fields of energy, transportation, industry, finance and services.

“Some of these companies are well known flagship establishments such as Areva, Air France, Airbus, Thales and Engie,” the statement said.

It said state ownership was a way of protecting sovereign assets to ensure that they served the national interest.

“When SOEs become profitable, they may totally or partially be sold to private investors. Whether totally or partially state owned, the importance of these companies to the national economy requires that they are effectively governed,” it added.

Oversight role

To ensure effective governance of public companies, it further said the state as the shareholder needed strong oversight institutions with the required expertise.

In France such an institution is known as “Agence des Participations de l’Etat” (Agency of public equities), while in Ghana it is called State Interests and Governance Authority (SIGA).

“Ghana has recently initiated far-reaching reforms in the oversight and management of SOEs, joint venture companies (JVCs) and other state entities (OSEs) referred to as Specified Entities.

“The change management process includes the establishment of SIGA to among others promote efficient and where applicable, profitable operations of Specified entities. By law, SIGA is the shareholder of all state interests in these specified entities,” it added.