The Japanese government will fund the construction a new bridge over the Volta River on the Eastern Corridor Road Development Project.
This follows the signing of a loan agreement amounting to 11.239 billion Yen (about $100 million) between Ghana and that country under the Japanese Official Development Assistance (ODA, popularly referred to as the Yen Loan).
This assistance is the first Yen Loan Japan is granting Ghana since 2001.
The project will be executed by the Japan through its Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), while the African Development Bank (AfDB) will construct surrounding roads connecting to the bridge.
In a short ceremony to officially seal the agreement in Accra, Minister of Finance and Economic Planning, Seth Terkper, said the bridge project is expected to serve as a catalyst for regional integration and contribute to the overall growth of the economy.
“The project is expected to open up the corridor and boost the export of Ghana’s non-traditional crops, mainly sheanut, cocoa butter, mango, pineapple, and banana from Eastern, Ashanti, Brong Ahafo and Northern regions to the port of Tema and Burkina Faso,” Mr Terkper said.
The project forms part of the Eastern Corridor Road, which is the shortest route connecting the Tema port and neighboring Burkina Faso in the north.
According to Mr Terkper, government, as part of its new debt management strategy, will ensure that the project pays for itself.
“Tolling arrangements have been factored in the project to raise revenue to contribute to the repayment of the loan. This approach is intended to keep government’s debt at sustainable levels,” the minister said.
On his part the Japanese Ambassador to Ghana, Kaoru Yoshimura, said the assistance follows President John Mahama’s appeal to the Prime Minister of Japan, Shinzo Abe, for the resumption of the Yen Loan to Ghana in 2013.
This was during the fifth Tokyo International Conference for African Development (TICAD V) held in Tokyo in May 2013.
“In May 2016 when President Mahama paid an official visit to Japan, the discussion was revisited and the pledge for this project was confirmed,” Mr Yoshimura noted.
He said at the sixth Tokyo International Conference for African Development (TICAD VI) held in Nairobi, Kenya in August 2016, Japan committed to engage in efforts that will increase the connectivity of the whole of Africa.
“This can only be done through improvement in infrastructure at sub-regional levels,” Mr Yoshimura added.
Japan’s Official Development Assistance Loan to Ghana started in 1963 and amounted to an average of 10 billion Japanese yen (about $88 million) annually between 1980 and 2000, making Japan the largest bilateral partner to Ghana.
After Ghana joined the Highly Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) in 2001, Japan withdrew its loan assistance and granted a debt relief to Ghana worth about $1 billion 2004.