Multipurpose fish port at James Town will be a ‘game changer’

China is gradually assuming a role as one of Africa’s most dependable development partners, and this is evident across the continent – particularly sub-Saharan Africa.

The foreign aid arena in Africa has traditionally been dominated by the Organisation of Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) countries. However, over the past three decades non-traditional donors such as China have emerged.

China is now the largest non-traditional contributor of aid to sub-Saharan African countries. Since 2001, the need to boost Chinese domestic economic growth has further driven China’s interest in sub-Saharan Africa’s natural resources.

Chinese aid in infrastructure outweighs that of other donors. It accounts for over 30% of total value of infrastructure projects in Africa. Thus, the recent signing of exchange notes between China and the Ministry of Finance toward the construction of a multipurpose fishing port complex in James Town, or ‘Old Accra’, does not come as a surprise but rather fits perfectly into the foreign relations objectives of China with Africa.

According to the agreement, China is providing a grant of US$50million for implementation of the project. As noted by the Finance Minister, Ken Ofori-Atta, coastal communities have high levels of poverty, and the dwindling of fish stock in our territorial waters is exacerbating the poverty levels and causing great anxiety among fisherfolk.

Therefore, the project is designed to improve socio-economic conditions for the people of James Town who are traditionally fisherfolk. Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture Development, Elizabeth Naa Afoley Quaye, believes this project will be one of China’s biggest investment in the country – which is significant.

It is expected that when completed next year, the facility will create not less than 1,000 jobs for the teeming youth in that area of the city. Doubtless, construction of the project at James town will improve its infrastructural outlook – and that is a plus for the people of Ga Mashie who have long complained of lacking development projects in their coastal community.

This is another significant milestone in China-Ghana bilateral relations, and we are pleased that China is helping bridge the huge infrastructural deficit in sub-Saharan Africa.

Aid is an important policy instrument for China among its various engagements with Africa, and indeed Africa has been a top recipient of Chinese aid: by the end of 2009 it had received 45.7 percent of the RMB 256.29 billion cumulative foreign aid of China.