African Development Fund approves $27.19 million grant for skills development infrastructure in Ghana to boost post Covid-19 recovery

The Board of Directors of the African Development Fund has approved a $27.19 million grant to Ghana for infrastructure for skills development and job creation for youth and women in its post-Covid-19 recovery efforts.

The grant will enhance higher-level skills delivery in the health system in the West African nation and create jobs for youth and women.

The Post-Covid-19 Skills Development and Productivity Enhancement Project, comprising two interrelated technical components and a project management component, will be implemented by Ghana’s Ministry of Finance over five years — from 2022 to 2027. Targeted primary beneficiaries include youth and women operating small businesses and cooperatives, including people with disabilities.

Overall, the project will benefit at least 24,800 people directly and 50,000 indirectly.

“This grant aligns with what the Skills for Employability and Productivity in Africa (SEPA) Action Plan 2022–2025  seeks to achieve. It is a giant step in the right direction. Under SEPA, the Bank will support African countries to invest in science, technology, engineering and mathematics, as well as technical and vocational training to improve productivity and drive innovation across the continent. It is our blueprint for equipping Africans with the skills the labour market requires,” said Martha Phiri, the Bank’s Director for Human Capital, Youth and Skills Development.

The grant will support the University of Ghana to build three facilities for microbiological research and training, biotechnological research and nursing, and midwifery research and training.

The capacity-building aspect of the project will involve the skilling of lecturers, researchers and health workers in higher institutions of education and health-related fields at the University of Ghana. This support will help increase human resource capacity to manage current and future diseases in Ghana.

The project will also enhance women’s access to credit, financial literacy and information sharing, with a focus on women-led Micro, Small and Medium-Scale Enterprise (MSMEs). In addition, the project will provide a credit facility to support women and youth significantly affected by the Covid-19 pandemic at affordable interest rates — 12% per annum.

The intermediary and rural and community banks will provide the credit facility to avoid high-default rates associated with government-sponsored credit schemes. Rural banks will participate by ensuring loan repayments and improving the efficiency and timeliness of small-loan processing.

The Bank’s Director-General of the West Africa Region, Marie Laure Akin-Olugbade, said: “The restoration of livelihoods through strengthening the capacities of MSMEs, as well as the building of infrastructure at the higher education level for health-related skills development, will be a major morale booster for women affected by Covid-19 and will set the stage for fighting diseases and  future pandemics in the country.”

Eyerusalem Fasika, the Bank’s Ghana Country Manager, welcomed the project, saying it will address youth unemployment and recovery for vulnerable women whose sources of livelihood were adversely affected by the pandemic. She said the project is in line with the Bank’s High 5s, or top priorities, one of which is “Improve the quality of life for the people of Africa.