Sierra Leone Telegraph: 13 December 2021:
President Nana Akufo-Addo of Ghana today visited the Luxembourg headquarters of the European Investment Bank and welcomed EUR 82.5 million Team Europe support for new investment to strengthen healthcare, provision of specialist medical equipment and medicines across Ghana under the national COVID-19 Health Response Plan.
The concessional Team Europe financing package comprises a EUR 75 million loan from the EIB and EUR 7.5 million European Commission grant.
The new loan, representing the EIB’s largest support for COVID related health investment in sub-Saharan Africa, was signed by Hon Kwaku Ampratwum-Sarpong, Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration, and Ambroise Fayolle, European Investment Bank Vice President, in the presence of President Nana Akufo-Addo, EIB President Werner Hoyer and Harriet Siaw-Boateng, Ambassador of Ghana to the European Union.
“Strengthened cooperation between Africa and multilateral development partners is crucial to share global best practice and ensure a rapid response to health, social and economic challenges triggered by the COVID-19 pandemic. The European Investment Bank and the European Union are key partners for Ghana and I welcome their support for our national COVID-19 Health Response Plan.
“Ghanaian and EIB experts have worked tirelessly in recent months to finalise this initiative, since President Hoyer and I met earlier this year. Specialist healthcare and medical services will benefit from both the EIB’s largest backing for COVID health resilience in Africa and EU grant support.” said President Nana Akufo-Addo.
Werner Hoyer, President of the European Investment Bank said: “Ghana has taken significant steps to manage the impact of COVID and to unlock long-term investment. A few months ago President Akufo-Addo and I confirmed EIB backing for the Development Bank of Ghana. It is an honour to welcome our Ghanaian friends to our Luxembourg headquarters to discuss how to improve our partnership in the years ahead and increase impact.”
Jutta Urpilainen, European Union Commissioner for International Partnerships said: “Ghana is a key partner for the EU. We are committed to step up our strategic partnership bilaterally, supporting our renewed partnership with Africa. Europe and Ghana stand side by side to tackle the health challenges triggered by the COVID-19 pandemic, including diagnosis, treatment and vaccination.
“The new Team Europe support for Ghana’s COVID-19 Health Response Plan will strengthen public health systems and enhance resilience to the pandemic and future health threats across Ghana through new investment backed by the European Union and European Investment Bank.”
The meeting provided an opportunity to discuss recent EIB support for the retrofit of the Kpong Dam, Development Bank Ghana and COVAX, explore future cooperation to support local vaccine manufacturing and outline the EIB’s strengthened engagement in Africa through a new dedicated development finance branch to be launched in the new year.
Largest national EIB support for health investment in Africa
The new agreement with Ghana represents the largest national EIB financing for COVID related health investment in Africa.
The EIB and EU backed health investment will improve medical treatment for patients with COVID at Treatment and Isolation Centres and Intensive Care Units, as well as measures to detect and contain the virus and slow down transmission. The initiative will both enhance medical treatment during the pandemic and enhance public health in the years ahead.
Ghana was the first country in Africa to receive COVID-19 vaccines under the EIB and EU backed COVAX initiative. EIB experts also briefed President Akufo-Addo on plans to further accelerate delivery of vaccines across sub-Saharan Africa.
EIB strengthening cooperation with Ghana to improve business access to finance
The EIB is finalising new support for business investment in Ghana with ECOBANK that is expected to be confirmed in the coming weeks.
This follows the formal agreement in May this year between President Akufo Addo and EIB President Werner Hoyer for EUR 170 million EIB backing for the new Development Bank Ghana. This represented the largest ever EIB engagement in Ghana and most significant support for a national development finance institution in Africa.
Once operational Development Bank Ghana will increase access to long-term finance and boost job creation for thousands of businesses in key sectors, including agribusiness, manufacturing, ICT, tourism and other services across Ghana.
The European Investment Bank is the world’s largest international public bank and has financed transformational investment across Ghana, including renewable energy at the Kpong Dam, business and services since 1976.
The reality is, while Sierra Leoneans were spending money, time and energy to destroy our nation during our 10 years civil war, Ghana and Senegal were embarking on rapid growth and development. Unfortunately, it seems we did not learn any lesson based on the fact that late President Kabba was overthrown after our first democratic elections. Currently, even though the voters have elected President Bio for 5 years, some unpatriotic citizens are advocating for another civil war.
On a positive note, Vice President Juldeh Jalloh have visited both Senegal and Ghana on a case study mission for the implementation of the MCC program which we have won two years consecutively, and these two countries have previously implemented their own MCC program. Hopefully, Sierra Leoneans will come together to help develop our nation through the Free quality Education, the MCC program, the Digital Census program and the New Leone which has been approved by parliament.
For sure, sixty years or so following decolonisation, African countries still continue to depend on loans and handouts from their erstwhile colonial masters to run their affairs. And I cannot agree more when people say that it is the wish of all self-respecting Africans to see our beloved continent rise to the challenge of full economic self-reliance and in the process put an end to the syndrome of perpetual dependency and subservience.
That being said, we should be honest with ourselves and say that while some of the countries seem to put the loans and handouts they receive to good use by working towards meeting a number of key national development targets (Ghana and Senegal come readily to mind, to speak only of the West African subregion), others including our own Sierra Leone have practically nothing to show for the international largesse they receive.The reason? Well, gross mismanagement of the loans and handouts resulting from gross administrative incompetence and above all endemic and obscene corrupt practices. These are the sink holes that underpin and reinforce Sierra Leone’s current status as a poor, underdeveloped (developing is a misnomer) country, whose means of survival is the begging bowl.
The reality is, even after over 60 years of independence, African countries still depends on our colonial masters for loans and grants. But this time around, they change the relationship as private partnerships. I hope and pray that Africa will shock the world by manufacturing our own COVID-19 vaccine rather than waiting for handouts from almost expired vaccines from our development partners.
Finally, I’m still hopeful that we will follow the footsteps of some Asian countries who were rated as third world 60 years ago.
President Akufo-Addo is a completely different kettle of fish. Does he travel outside Ghana? Of course, he does. With a clear national purpose though, resulting in direct, tangible and tactile benefits for his country. President Bio, his Sierra Leonean counterpart, does travel too outside his own country and most probably more frequently than him. Yet what direct, tangible and tactile benefits have President Bio’s peregrinations across countries and continents yielded? The answer is self-evident. A huge strain on the national treasury considering the astronomical financial costs his incurable wanderings incur.
Whilst Akufo-Addo’s official travels have specific national agendas/goals, Bio’s are largely a cover for the pursuit of personal desires, hedonistic in terms of intent and results. Akufo-Addo goes away empty-handed and returns with hands full of goodies for the common good. By contrast, Bio goes away with his hands full of his impoverished nation’s meagre resources and comes back empty-handed, with a clear purpose in mind: to cart away more of his country’s wherewithal in his next round of globetrotting. Ghana and her President are winners. So, they thrive. Sierra Leone and hers are losers. So, they struggle. We have here two African nations travelling at different speeds and in opposite directions. One progresses, the other stagnates, or rather, retrogresses.