Political and economic ties between Kuwait and the Republic of Ghana date as far back as 1974.
During this period, Kuwait has offered assistance and made significant contributions in support of Ghana’s infrastructural development.
Key among them is the assistance offered Ghana through the Kuwait Fund for Arab Economic Development (KFAED), commonly Known as the Kuwait Fund.
The fund is the State of Kuwait’s Agency for the Provision and Administration of Financial and Technical Assistance to Developing Countries.
These concessionary loans, grants and technical assistance packages cover a broad range of sectors, including energy, health and agriculture; and more recently, education programmes have received support.
Kuwait Ambassador to Ghana, Mohammed Hussain Al-Failakwai, in an interview with The Finder, said Ghana has since accessed 10 loans totalling $160 million from the fund. This amount is exclusive of other investments made by Kuwait companies in the country.
He mentioned that due to the good relations the two countries have enjoyed over the period, Ghana was able to access loans just after three years of establishing diplomatic relations with his country.
Investments into the energy sector
In the energy sector, Kuwait has played significant roles in granting loans for major projects such as funding for the construction of the Kpong hydroelectric project. The Government of Ghana in 1974 accessed a facility from the fund for the construction of the dam, which has since played significant role in the country’s quest for energy efficiency and industrialisation drive.
In 1988, another facility was granted Ghana by the Kuwait Fund, extending electricity to communities in the north through the Ghana Rural Electrification Projects.
The rural electrification project forms part of governments effort at expanding electricity infrastructure in order to support the operation of social projects, productive ventures, and activities in the rural areas.
Other facilities to develop the energy sector in Ghana include supplementary loans for the Takoradi Thermal Power Project.
In 2003, the Government of Ghana signed a USD16.5 million loan agreement with the Kuwait Fund to start a transmission project at the Aboadze Thermal Station.
In the health sector, Kuwait has been instrumental in expanding existing health infrastructure to help make health facilities more accessible to the majority of Ghanaians.
Significant among them is an expansion project currently underway at the Korle-Bu Teaching Hospital.
In 2013, the Kuwait Fund extended its 9th loan facility of $15.3 million to the Government of Ghana for the construction of an Emergency Trauma and Acute Care Centre at the Korle-Bu Teaching Hospital.
Although the project has been faced with some challenges, the ambassador, Mohammed Hussain Al-Failakwai, said all the bottlenecks have been resolved and the project is expected to be completed by the end of 2017.
“The Kuwait government attaches great importance to this project and is committed to ensuring its completion,” he said.
Other projects funded by the Kuwait Fund include the Korle Lagoon Ecological Restoration project.
The project involves the dredging of the Korle Lagoon and canalising of the tributaries to increase the capacity to contain more floodwaters.
According to the ambassador, private Kuwait entities are investing significantly in different sectors of the Ghanaian economy.
He mentioned that currently there is a Kuwait company which has been cultivating mangoes, bananas and other fruits on a 158-acre land in Ghana for export.
This farm, he said, currently employs about 1,800 workers.
Another company, he said, is currently providing storage facilities for exporters and is considered one of the biggest storage facilities in West African sub-region.
He also mentioned other manufacturing companies that are at the initial stages of setting up in Ghana.
“We hope that all these and more investments continue to come to Ghana,” he said.
Kuwait Fund and other support for Africa’s development
Since its inception, the Kuwait Fund has played a significant role in boosting not only Ghana’s development trajectory but also that of other beneficiary countries on the African continent.
Abdulwahab Al Bader, Director-General, Kuwait Fund for Arab Economic Development, has stated that beneficiaries include over 103 countries, with total commitments of about $18bn so far.
“The sectoral distribution of Kuwait Fund loans reflects what each recipient deems to be its own priority, which differs among countries. Projects vary by country and sector, according to the objectives to be achieved, including poverty reduction, job creation, infrastructure construction and improvements to social services. By responding to their needs, we ensure that recipients get maximum benefits”.
At the third Arab-African summit 2013, Kuwait announced USD1 billion to African countries to be accessed over a five-year period as part of renewed commitment to spearhead infrastructural development on the continent.
According to His Highness the Amir, Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah, the fund was a sign of his country’s commitment to forging genuine partnership between Arab countries and Africa.
“I directed officials of the fund [Kuwait Fund for Arab Economic Development] to extend soft loans to African countries in the amount of USD1 billion over the next five years, not to mention investments by a number of Kuwaiti corporations in various sectors.”
Although Ghana has not as yet accessed any of that facility, the ambassador, Mohammed Hussain Al-Failakwai, is optimist that Ghana would take advantage to secure some of the facility before the fund ends in 2019.
He reiterated his government’s commitment to continuously support developmental projects in Ghana.
“Through the Kuwait Fund, Kuwait is ready to finance every project that the Government of Ghana makes proposals for,” he assured.
By Daniel NONOR, Accra