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Mauritius likely to scrap $250m Ghana technology park project

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Dr. Omane Boamah
Dr. Omane Boamah

A technology park expected to be built in Tema, a joint project of the Ghana and Mauritius governments would likely not happen.

On June 5, 2015, Ghana’s Deputy Minister of Communication, Ato Sarpong, travelled to Mauritius to sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Mauritian government on a technology park to be built in the port city of Tema in Ghana, but developments in Mauritius are pointing to a possible shelving of the project or a total cancellation, ghanabusinessnews.com has gathered.

Information available, among other things, says the funds meant for the Tema project would be shifted to cater for priority projects of the Mauritian government.

Mr Vishnu Lutchmeenaraidoo, Mauritius Finance Minister signed on behalf of his government at the Government House, Port Louis.

In August 26, 2015 the two countries signed a framework agreement for the development of the park.

According to the Ghana government, the first phase of the park, which will be developed and managed by a Special Purpose Vehicle, will be on a 6.1 hectare serviced land in the Tema Free Zones Enclave.

“With an initial investment of $75 million to be scaled up to $250 million, about 5000 direct jobs and thousands of indirect job opportunities will be created on completion of the park,” the Ghana government touted.

But there is a high possibility Mauritius would shelve or scrap the project all together because the Mauritian minister responsible for the project has been cited in a corruption related controversy lately in the small island nation.

Following a recent mini reshuffle in the Mauritian government and Lutchmeenaraidoo now at the centre of a corruption-related controversy, the joint venture would most likely not take off.

Lutchmeenaraidoo was re-assigned to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in March by the Prime Minister, Anerood Jugnauth, due to health issues and following a request by Lutchmeenaraidoo.

But in March, the former Finance Minister was caught in a controversy over a bank loan he contracted last year at the State Bank of Mauritius (SBM), the second largest bank on the island. Lutchmeenaraidoo took a loan of €1.1 million at an interest rate of only 1.5 per cent per annum from the SBM, an entity that falls under his ministry. Under Mauritian laws, this could amount to a breach of the Prevention of Corruption Act (POCA), precisely the clauses dealing with conflict of interest, as he would have allegedly used his position to obtain a preferential interest rate, which is far below the lending rates practiced in the country.

The benchmark repo rate announced by the Mauritius central bank in March 2016 is 4.4 per cent.

The incident resulted in many projects at the Ministry of Finance in Mauritius, now at the order of the Prime Minister himself, being kept on hold while many others are allegedly being shelved. At the Ministry of Finance of Mauritius, priority is presently being given to the upcoming budget presentation scheduled for June.

Some sources have told ghanabusinessnews.com that, the technology park venture in Tema is very likely to be shelved owing to a reallocation of financial resources to priority projects by the Mauritian government.

The project was expected to comprise hotels, restaurants, offices, residential areas and shopping complexes. The first phase was expected to be completed by September 2019.

Efforts by ghanabusinessnews.com – visits to the Ministry and phone calls to get comments from the Ministry of Communications were not responded to.

By Emmanuel K. Dogbevi, with additional files from correspondents in Port Louis, Mauritius.

Copyright © 2015 by Creative Imaginations Publicity
All rights reserved. This report or any portion thereof may not be reproduced or used in any manner whatsoever without the express written permission of the publisher except for the use of brief quotations in reviews.

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