Ghana was the first African country to receive a loan from the World Bank

(LR) Ato Forson, Collins Adomako Mensah, Pierre Laporte and Kwaku Kwarteng at the event.

Some 65 years ago, in 1957, Ghana became the first country in sub-Saharan Africa to receive a loan from the World Bank. The loan was used for the construction of the country’s first hydroelectric dam at Akosombo. The World Bank has since approved more than 216 projects and disbursed more than $10.2 billion for the country, said Pierre Laporte, World Bank country director for Ghana, Liberia and Sierra Leone.

Mr. Laporte, who was speaking at the relaunch of the Ghana chapter of the World Bank and International Monetary Fund (IMF) Parliamentary Network, at the Bank’s offices in Accra, said: “We have contributed to the continued reduction of poverty in Ghana over the decades, however modest our contribution may be.

The Parliamentary Network is a global platform for parliamentarians from over 160 countries with over 2,000 members. It was created to advocate for greater accountability and transparency in international financial institutions and multilateral development finance.

“Our historic relationship has not been easy, but we have remained loyal to Ghana, respected our differences and worked together around a common agenda. Ghana went through tough economic times starting in the 1970s. Since then, Ghana has unfortunately experienced various economic challenges in every decade including the 2000s and today. What is important is that, as in all partnerships, we have stayed with Ghana and continue to move forward together,” he added.

Mr. Laporte noted that to deepen dialogue and support reforms in specific sectors, he hopes that the Bank’s work over the years through the national budget will strengthen the way sector ministries work with the Ministry of Finance. Finance to coordinate Ghana’s development agenda and achieve the results Ghana has set itself.

“To really make a difference and ‘Together Transform Ghana’, we really need to ensure that public investments are value for money in delivering basic services to citizens.

We have worked on audit, public finance processes, etc., and everything is going well. But the most important thing, I think, is that citizens across Ghana, including their parliamentary representatives, need to watch what is being done. This oversight could go a long way toward getting the best value for money. If that happens, nothing will stop Ghana from reaching where it wants to be,” he said.

Our historic relationship has not been easy, but we have remained loyal to Ghana, respected our differences and worked together around a common agenda.

Mr. Laporte said the COVID-19 pandemic and the Russian-Ukrainian war had halted Ghana’s growth and exacerbated macroeconomic and structural challenges, including debt vulnerabilities and energy sector fiscal risks, and noted that high budget deficits and rising public debt had increased Ghana’s country risk, limited foreign direct investment in non-commodity sectors, and increased the cost of financing for private businesses.

He added, however, that despite recent challenges, he was confident that Ghana could maintain its status as a lower-middle-income country to become a full-fledged middle-income country.

Mr. Kwaku Agyemang Kwarteng, Chairman of the Parliament’s Finance Committee and current chairman of the network, said he aimed to grow the group and help it achieve the global initiative, with MPs with clear goals. He also said that the network with MPs on both sides of the House could ensure that capacity building programs are organized regularly for MPs as part of efforts to strengthen their oversight functions.

Mr. Ato Forson, vice president of the network, said the network working with the World Bank would interface between the Bank and the representatives of the people so that they can together implement programs that work for the people.

In remarks made virtually, Lian Byrne, a British MP, said the revival of the Network in Ghana is important for the country, adding that “bottom-up politics is better than bottom-up politics, “we can solve problems not because that we have the answers, but because we are talking to our people,” he said.

Mr. Philippe Martini, Global Chair of the Parliamentary Network, in a virtual message, urged Network leaders in Ghana to use the platform to bring transformation to their country.

By Emmanuel K. Dogbevi

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