15 August 2013

Ghana: World Bank Project Funds Abandoned? - Is Ghana Cursed Financially or Something?


While we look for money left, right and centre, including taxing cutlasses and fishing nets among others to fund development projects, Ghana has largely closed her eyes to two World Bank loans totalling $71.9 million granted for electricity-related and Statistical Service development projects in the country.

The first sum of $41.9 million is for the first phase of the Inter-Zonal Transmission Hub project of the West Africa Power Pool (WAPP) (APL3), which commenced in 2012, and includes three sub-projects.

The project being implemented by the Ministry of Energy and Petroleum for the Volta River Authority (VRA) and Ghana Grid Company Limited (GRIDCo) comprises a transmission line between Bolgatanga and Ouagadougou, the reinforcement of Ghana's transmission grid, and the electrification of the rural localities along the right of way in Burkina Faso.

And yet, for such an important project, only $200,000 has been drawn and utilised by the VRA and GRIDCo, leaving a whopping $41.7 million sitting idle in some dark vault.

And for what reason? A "general weakness in Ghana's implementation process," according to the World Bank.

The second amount of $30 million is for "strengthening the National Statistical System in the production and dissemination of timely and robust statistics relevant for evidence-based policy-making and other uses.

That has not been drawn at all - not a single pesewa - even though the World Bank board approved the money in August 2011 and Cabinet approved it in March 2012. Though submitted to Parliament in May 2012, it was unattended to, reportedly, because of the 2012 General Elections.

Though the bank was assured that the loan agreement would be re-submitted to Parliament early this year, it is yet to be sent back to the House, with two-thirds of the year almost gone.

The Chronicle wonders what goes into the make-up of the average Ghanaian public official. Ghana loses at least three percent of its electricity during transmission, and another three percent through distribution, and yet, the World Bank money that could put an end to the leakage or stem it considerably, has been abandoned, because of weakness in the implementation process.

Would the VRA and GRIDCo kindly inform Ghanaians why they cannot enthrone an effective implementation process? What are they paid for? Or, is it true that it is because many of them are square pegs in round holes?

Our politicians are playing love-hate games with figures from the Ghana Statistical Service. When in power, the GSS is their darling boy because its figures seem to support their self-acclaimed economic wizardly, but when out of government, GSS figures cannot be trusted because they are in bed with the incumbent government.

Yet, the World Bank has released $30 million to strengthen the system that generates the figures, and the same politicians do not seem enthused about approving the money for it to be utilised to correct the faults in the system.

Our politicians had better watch out. Ghanaians have started seeing them as the cause of the woes in this country - they award themselves fantastic salaries, they are perceived as corrupt, they beat war drums unnecessarily, name it.

Ghanaians are long suffering, but not fools. Anyone who thinks to the contrary is living in a fool's paradise.

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