Ghana and Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) have agreed to review bilateral cooperation in various sectors to support the attainment of the Ghana Beyond Aid vision.
To this end, a working group is to be set up at the political and technical levels to draw a work plan to concretise this understanding.
This decision was reached when Ken Ofori-Atta, Ghana’s Finance Minister and the Ghanaian delegation currently in Japan met with Hiroshi Sato, Vice President and officials of JICA in Tokyo on Thursday.
Ken Ofori-Atta, while expressing profound appreciation for JICA’s support to Ghana, said recent economic achievement is expected to propel the country on a new growth trajectory which called for redefining relationships with bilateral organisations such as JICA.
“After stabilising the economy within a year, we are at a critical junction to register strongly the direction of the relationship we want to have with our partners, hence this visit”, Ken Ofori-Atta stressed.
Issues discussed, which received favourable consideration from the Japanese, ranged from on-going JICA projects in infrastructure, health, education, agriculture, trade, economic and technical assistance and new iconic projects proposed by the delegation.
The new ones included support to establish an international financial hub, construction of Accra-Tema Metro Rail, and support for an endowment fund to transform the Nugochi Memorial Medical Research Centre into a global research centre.
“Such strong iconic projects will cement the relationship between our two countries and clearly register Japanese presence in the region”, the Finance Minister explained.
The Ghanaian delegation proposed a review of the JICA flagship volunteer programme to be transformed into an exchange programme to enable Ghanaian nurses to work as volunteers in Japan for a period.
They also made a strong case for the re-instatement of the Japanese Non-Project Grant for the private sector, which Ken Ofori-Atta noted, could boost Ghana’s flagship programmes such as 1D1F, Planting for Food and Jobs, etc.
Other issues discussed were possible PPP arrangement for the construction of new regional hospitals in the Western and Eastern regions, expansion of the universal health programme at the basic level to cover the whole country, and the establishment of the Kaizen Centre in Ghana.
The Delegation also apprised JICA of the resolution of outstanding issues on infrastructure projects such as the Bridge project, paving the way for construction work to begin on a new bridge and its arterial roads over the Volta River. This bridge is critical to the eastern corridor road project and provides an alternative to the Adomi Bridge.
Vice President Sato assured the delegation that JICA will continue to work to improve bilateral cooperation. He said the organisation had changed from purely government to government cooperation to supporting the private sector as well.
He assured the delegation of continued cooperation between the two countries and pledged to consider increasing intake for the human resource capacity building programmes and the volunteer programme.
An interesting part of the meeting was an interaction with former volunteers who were now working in various sectors of the Japanese society including two volunteers who have established Ahay3de Company to promote Ghanaian art and craft products and established cultural ensemble made of up of Japanese in Tokyo.
Ongoing JICA projects include the Volunteer programme, which celebrated its 40th anniversary last year, projects to improve international road corridors between Ghana and her neighbours, the Tema Motorway Roundabout, and CHIPs compounds in the three northern regions, etc.
Present in that meeting were Minister for Roads and Highways, Akwasi Amoako-Atta; Deputy Minister for Finance, Charles Adu Boahen; Deputy Governor of Bank of Ghana, Dr. Maxwell Opoku Afari; Deputy Minister for Health, Kingsley Aboagye Gyedu; Deputy Minister for Information, Kojo Oppong Nkrumah and Deputy Minister for Trade, Carlos Ahenkorah.
Also present were officials from the Ghana Embassy led by Mrs. Abigail Kwashi, the Charge d’Affairs.