Dec 6, 2019
News coverage and social media commentary about the recent deal signed between the Ghanian government and the Chinese state-owned construction conglomerate Sinohydro is almost universally negative.
According to deal, Ghana would exchange 5% of its bauxite reserves for $2 billion of infrastructure. But critics in Ghana and internationally contend the deal doesn't make sense and is just too risky both financially and environmentally. If bauxite prices fall then Accra would be on the hook to make up the difference, potentially costing the country millions of dollars. Equally concerning is the fact that the mines are located in the Atewa Forest Preserve, one of West Africa's most important ecological zones and also a critical source for an estimated 5 million people.
The government, for its part, has struggled to challenge critics and present counter-arguments as to why this deal is in the best of the country and will not jeopardize fragile ecosystems. Ghana, they argue, has been responsibly mining bauxite for years so why all of a sudden is everyone so worried that this deal, in particular, is so risky?
Henry Kyeremeh is the Head of the Bank Accounts, Reserves and Interventions Unit at the Treasury and Debt Management Division in the Ghanian Ministry of Finance. He's a strong advocate for this deal as he believes it's the most efficient way for the government to leverage natural resources to build badly-needed infrastructure without taking new loans.
Henry joins Eric & Cobus to provide a different perspective on the Ghana-Sinohydrop deal than what has been portrayed in the news media and online.
It's important to note that although Henry is a senior official in the finance ministry, in this interview he's not speaking in any official capacity on behalf of the Ghanian government and only sharing his personal views on this issue.
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