Business News of Sunday, 18 November 2018
Ghana and Burkina Faso have signed a contract for transaction advisory services for the construction of the railway inter-connectivity project from Accra to Ouagadougou.
The railway project stretches from the port of Tema through Ho, Hohoe, Yendi, Tamale, to Paga at the Ghana-Burkina Faso border and extends from Dakola to Ouagadougou in Burkina Faso.
The signing of the contract paves the way for the consortium of transaction advisors, made up of Messrs Vision Consult Limited from Ghana and TEAM Engineering S.P.A from Italy, to provide technical support for the efficient execution of the project.
Among other things, the transaction advisors will lead the process to select three firms out of a list of 12 that have been shortlisted to execute the project on a build, operate and transfer (BOT) basis.
At the signing ceremony in Accra yesterday, the Minister of Railways Development, Mr Joe Ghartey, the Burkinabe Ambassador to Ghana, Pingrenoma Zagre, and the transaction advisors signed for their respective entities.
The Italian Ambassador to Ghana, Mr Giovanni Favilli, the Deputy Minister of Railways Development, Mr Andy Appiah-Kubi, and members of the joint committee of experts set up by the two countries for the railway project, were present at the signing ceremony.
Mr Ghartey said the transaction advisors were required to review feasibility studies on the project and also facilitate the procurement processes to ensure that construction work began by the end of 2019.
He added that the transaction advisors would also give expert opinion on the BOT regime, as well as recommendations, on the cost component of the project.
Mr Ghartey urged the transaction advisors to be diligent in taking the 12 selected companies through the next stage of the procurement process, which was the issuance of the request for qualification document from the companies for further evaluation.
“We expect that the issuance of the request for qualification documents will be done by the transaction advisor, in collaboration with the joint technical committee set up by the two countries within the next two weeks from the signing of this contract today,” he said.
Mr Ghartey described the project as a historic move by the two West African countries to consolidate trade and transportation links between them.
“By the signing of this contract, a new dawn breaks; a dawn that will totally transform Ghana, Burkina Faso and indeed Africa; a dawn that will take us to the next level of independence; a dawn that will give us economic independence,” he said.
For his part, the Burkinabe Ambassador commended the Presidents of the two countries for showing exemplary leadership and commitment to break trade barriers and improve the transport system for their respective citizens.
Mr Zagre said the construction of the railway line would not only facilitate regional integration, but also create more jobs and boost economic activities in the two countries.
“Our people are waiting to hear the sound of the trains moving people and goods. We urge the transaction advisors to work diligently to ensure that the work meets technical specifications that conform with international standards,” he said.
He also urged the transaction advisors to be prudent in undertaking the monitoring and evaluation aspects of the project and the other contractual requirements.
The idea of constructing the Ghana-Burkina Faso railway line was discussed between President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo and his Burkinabe counterpart, President Roc Marc Christian Kabore, when the former visited the latter in May 2017.
The objective for the project is to facilitate improved trade between the two countries and accelerate economic growth in both countries, as well as deepen integration between them.
A joint technical committee of experts from the two countries was constituted in January this year for its implementation.
The committee of experts recommended that the Accra-Tema-Ougadougou railway be constructed on a BOT basis.
The committee also recommended that a transaction advisor ought to be contracted to assist the two governments to review existing feasibility studies and undertake further studies, including survey works.
Subsequent to the agreement between the two countries, the Ministry of Railways Development went through procurement procedures and got approval to engage the service of the transaction advisors for the project.
The joint committee met again in Ougadougou in April this year and agreed to jointly publish expression of interest advertisement for private sector investors to partner the two governments in the execution of the project.
Following that publication, 16 firms expressed interest to undertake the project on a BOT basis.
The expression of interest proposals was jointly opened in Accra on May 28 this year, where the joint committee evaluated the documents and shortlisted 12 for the next stage.