After talks last weekend between representatives of the two governments, Ghana confirmed that it is going ahead with a US$2-billion deal with the People’s Republic of China to exchange infrastructure improvements in the West African country for bauxite ore.
According to Ghanaian Vice-President Mahamudu Bawumia, Beijing has already released the first payment on the deal, which totaled US$649 million.
“We hope that the rest will come through by March of 2020,” Bawumia told reporters last weekend after talks with his Chinese counterpart in Accra.
Bawumia continued by saying that a quartet of road-building projects has already been signed off on by China Export and Credit Insurance Corporation (Sinosure).
In addition to infrastructure improvement, the deal with state-owned petroleum firm Sinohydro includes a US$42.7 million grant and debt forgiveness totaling US$35.7 million, both of which are intended to help the country build infrastructure, said Bawumia.
Ghanaian President Nana Akufo-Addo said separately that his government is hopeful that six other projects now under consideration would soon be signed off on by Sinosure, possibly by year’s end.
The deal between the two governments has drawn withering fire from several quarters, including from conservationists who say the project would severely damage the adjacent Atewa forest, which is a 90 mi2 preserve in southeast Ghana.
The Ghanaian government assured critics that mining would be conducted well away from and with respect for the preserve, which makes up a portion of the greater Upper Guinean Rainforest.
The project in question is the next of several such deals Beijing has made with African governments in recent years. From 2000 to 2017 China has arranged US$143 billion in loans for infrastructure on the continent, making it far and away the biggest such lender in the area.
Beijing has a similar deal with Guinea, trading US$20 billion in loans over two decades in exchange for bauxite ore, which it executed in 2017.