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General News of Wednesday, 12 July 2006

Source: AFP

US offers $547m in aid to Ghana

Accra, July 12, GNA - The Board of Directors of the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) of US on Wednesday approved 547 million dollars for the poor in Ghana.

The Board of Directors of the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) approved the amount for an anti-poverty programme in Ghana, a release from the Public Affairs Section of the Embassy of the United States of America in Accra said.

The Programme, also known as a Compact; will benefit more than one million Ghanaians and would focus on rural agriculture, transportation and community development initiatives.

The Compact targets some of the poorest rural districts where poverty rates range from 40 per cent to 90 per cent. The compact components would raise the income potential of farmers through increased production of high-value cash and basic food crops, an improved transportation network and development of food processing industries and handling facilities.

The statement said: "The five-year programme will include initiatives to improve land tenure and access to credit for small farmers and agribusinesses."

The Compact also includes interventions to improve access to education, water and sanitation, and electricity in the areas participating in the programme.

"This programme is designed to drive economic growth through the efforts of and for the benefit of some of the poorest farmers and farming communities in Ghana," said MCC Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Ambassador John Danilovich.

"MCC was designed and created to work with and reward nations that have demonstrated a commitment to adopting sound political, economic and social policies that will reduce poverty through economic growth. =93Like all MCA countries, Ghana's participation in MCC's programme is predicated on its dedication to three fundamental principles; ruling justly, investing in people and encouraging economic freedom." The Programme's agriculture component - the largest component, with an estimated five-year cost of 241 million dollars - would enhance the profitability of commercial agriculture among small farmers by improving business and farming skills, access to credit, land tenure and marketing services.

This component also includes irrigation improvements and rehabilitation of rural roads.

The transportation component with an estimated five-year cost of 143 million dollars includes rehabilitation of a 14-kilometre stretch of the major highway linking the international airport in Accra, the capital, and the port city of Tema.

The statement said the component also included financing for the rebuilding or construction of 230 kilometres of two-lane roads to improve the access to agriculture markets and social services in the Central Afram Basin area.

Improvements to the Lake Volta ferry service to facilitate faster access to markets will also be supported.

The Programme also includes a five-year 101 million dollars rural development component to expand access to community services and to strengthen rural institutions by funding construction and rehabilitation of schools, water and sanitation facilities, electrification of rural areas and providing capacity building support to local government institutions.

This component also includes financing of an initiative to automate and interconnect 121 small rural, community-owned banks and other improvements in the national payments systems that would draw into the financial system, people currently not served or under served. Since its establishment in 2004, MCC has approved Compacts totalling more than 2.1 billion dollars with nine nations, Madagascar, Honduras, Cape Verde, Nicaragua, Georgia, Benin, Vanuatu, Armenia and Ghana. MCC is also actively engaging with other eligible countries in Compact negotiations.

Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC), a United States government corporation designed to work with some of the poorest countries in the world, is based on the principle that aid is most effective when it reinforces good governance, economic freedom and investments in people that promote economic growth and elimination of extreme poverty.

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