By Evans Boah-Mensah
The United States Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) is looking to double its investments in Ghana and help stimulate private sector capital flow into the country.
OPIC, which is the US government?s development finance institution mobilising private capital to help solve critical development challenges, has already committed more than US$850million in investments into the Ghanaian economy — making the country the biggest recipient of OPIC?s funds, and the organisation is looking forward to doubling that.
So far, the organisation?s commitments have been targetted at the water and sanitation sectors, hospital and healthcare projects, and agriculture.
The President and CEO of OPIC, Elizabeth L. Littlefield who was in the country last week on a three-nation tour to Ghana, Senegal and Liberia, said the organisation recognises the strategic importance of Ghana to the US and expressed willingness to help stimulate private sector investment into the country.
?We currently have a portfolio of over US$850million in commitments in Ghana, and we would like this trip to in a way help us to double that.
?The big sectors that we have been focusing on so far are the water and sanitation sectors, hospital and healthcare and the agriculture sectors.
?But looking ahead, once reforms are made and the business environment is encouraging for investors, then we will have to see our attention turn to also support the energy sector as well,? she told the B&FT in an exclusive interview in Accra.
OPIC, which works with the US private sector, helps American businesses to gain footholds in emerging markets — catalysing revenues, jobs and growth opportunities by providing investors with financing, guarantees, political risk insurance, and support for private equity investment funds.
Mrs. Littlefield revealed that the objective of her trip to the three West African nations is to assess the power sector in particular, and also be familiarised with projects that OPIC has undertaken.
?We also want to work with governments of the three countries to make sure that they do reforms and help create the business environment that helps investors to be comfortable and confident to boost investment flow,? she said.
OPIC?s investment commitments to Ghana is the biggest in West-Africa. Currently, the organisation is helping to refurbish the country?s three teaching hospitals with a US$267million funding facility.
Mrs. Littlefield, on a visit to the Korle-Bu Teaching Hospital, expressed satisfaction at the quality of work ongoing at the medical facility.
?I?m very proud to have helped to refurbish this extraordinary hospital, which I think is going to be very important for Ghana and the sub-region. I?m very excited since, as I have been told, there has been no major upgrade in infrastructure for the past 20 years. As a development agency, our mandate is to work with the private sector and catalyse investments into important development projects.
?So this is the kind of thing that we will be financing. We provided the insurance to facilitate the funding for this facility here at Korle-Bu to the tune of US$267million. With the commitments we have made, this makes it our biggest investment in West Africa,? she said.
Mr. Stephen Johnson, who is OPIC?s executive responsible for most of the organisation?s projects in Ghana, said the board of the organisation has approved other projects in the agric, water and sanitation sectors for Ghana.
?We do have headroom for quite a number of projects. We recently announced a board approval for a US$180million water project to rehabilitate a number of water facilities throughout the country, as well as an agricultural project that has also been approved by the OPIC board. We are looking forward to the implementation of these projects soon,? he added.