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New US Investments Unlock Trade Potential for Businesses in Ghana

By United States Embassy – Accra, Ghana

U.S. Ambassador Stephanie S. Sullivan last week announced new co-investments by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) totaling $4.2 million with five companies operating in Ghana.

These projects, leveraged with private sector funds, will help these companies scale up operations, develop export opportunities, and create jobs.

Ambassador Sullivan made the announcement during the U.S. Embassy’s Providing Opportunity for Women’s Economic Rise (POWER) program for women entrepreneurs from Ghana and the North American diaspora.

As part of Women’s History Month, the Embassy, in collaboration with Howard University and the International Trade Centre, is hosting the Women’s Empowerment Lab.

The program will help Ghanaian and American women entrepreneurs take advantage of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) and the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) to grow their businesses by seizing export opportunities while facilitating networking opportunities across the Atlantic.

“The West Africa Trade and Investment Hub was created to help entrepreneurs like those participating in the Women’s Empowerment Lab take advantage of export opportunities. Ghanaian companies can export more than 6,500 goods duty-free to the United States today, and the AfCFTA opens up a $3.4 trillion market. These co-investments will help these companies access African and U.S. markets, while creating jobs here in Ghana,” said Ambassador Sullivan.

Co-created at USAID/Ghana, the grants are aimed at deepening the United States’ commercial relationship with Africa in line with the Prosper Africa Initiative, the African Growth and Opportunity Act, and President Biden’s Build Back Better World initiative.

USAID recently awarded $4.2 million in co-investment grants to five companies operating in Ghana under the West Africa Trade & Investment Hub (Trade Hub): AMAATI Company Ltd, DTRT Apparel, FreezeLink, Maphlix Trust, and Nuts 4 Growth. The grants build on USAID/Ghana’s work to drive large-scale development by supporting firms poised for catalytic growth. By leveraging USAID’s co-investments, these companies are expected to generate over $45 million in private investment, increase exports by $166 million, and create more than 2,000 new jobs, mostly for women and youth.

Summaries of the five co-investment grants follow are below:

AMAATI Company Ltd: A woman-owned, Ghanaian social enterprise that pioneered the revival of fonio, a nutritious African grain, AMAATI aims to support 5,800 landless women farmers in northern Ghana. USAID/Ghana’s $742,000 grant, together with private investments of $4.5 million, will help create a new West African global value chain for increased exports of fonio to North America and Europe, while generating income for 8,000 farmers. AMAATI will use American-made John Deere equipment and sell to Century Green and Mayaresa in the American market.

DTRT Apparel: With a USAID/Ghana grant of $760,000, West Africa’s regional market leader in apparel manufacturing will leverage additional private investments to expand its existing garment manufacturing capabilities, with the goal of achieving more than $100 million in exports annually by 2025 and supporting more than 5,000 local workers. At least 2,000 new jobs will be created, mostly for women, as the company scales up its operations and expands its exports to large international clothing brands, including several leading U.S. companies.

FreezeLink: Ghana’s leading third-party provider of temperature-controlled transport, warehousing, and engineering services, FreezeLink will receive a $767,000 USAID/Ghana grant to install affordable cold storage units to boost horticultural exports from Ghana and reduce vaccine spoilage, including for COVID-19 vaccines. USAID’s grant will catalyze $6.7 million in additional investment and boost exports by $11 million. FreezeLink will use refrigeration units for its trucks from American company Carrier and has partnered with Zipline, an American medical product delivery company.

Maphlix Trust: A leading orange-fleshed sweet potato exporter in Ghana, Maphlix will use USAID/Ghana’s grant of $970,000 and private investments of $6 million to support 1,100 farmers and boost sales of value-added purée products addressing Vitamin A deficiency. Maphlix has American investors and will install $1.2 million of food processing technology from Sinnovatek, an American company, to process the purée. By 2024, Maphlix anticipates earning annual revenues of $4.4 million, of which 60 percent will be from exports.

Nuts 4 Growth (N4G): An up-and-coming large-scale shea and soy processor, N4G will leverage a USAID/Ghana grant of $980,000 to catalyze additional private investment and help expand the incomes of 20,000 women soy farmers. Increasing the number of women within its out-grower program, expanding its pool of international buyers, and boosting production capacity through upgraded machinery, N4G expects to achieve $30 million in shea butter exports to the U.S. and E.U. markets by April 2024. N4G supplies American firm Bunge and relies on American lab equipment manufactured by Agilent and BrandTech Scientific. This equipment uses high-performance liquid chromatography and nuclear magnetic resonance to monitor and ensure purity in food, air, and water during factory operation.

Africa can adopt renewable energy on a massive scale and save billions along the way

When it comes to building the future of energy in Africa, the decisions facing the continent’s leaders today are nothing less than of historical importance. More than anything else, energy systems are the very fabric of business and society. Countries across Africa want to make good on their objective of building huge amounts of new generation capacity to anticipate on vast increases in energy demand and set the continent on the path of growth and development it deserves.

Africa knows where it needs to go. The big question is how. And more specifically: what is the most cost-effective energy mix that can be built to deliver all the new electricity capacity that is needed? Wind, solar, gas turbines, coal, gas engines… numerous options are available, but there is only one sweet spot.

For the past decade and more, world-class engineers and analysts at Wärtsilä have tapped into their deep bench of experience in the African energy sector to answer these very questions, country by country. We have mobilized state-of-the-science, technology-neutral energy modelling techniques, and took all local technical constraints, all technologies, and natural resources into account. Multiple energy mix scenarios have been developed and compared. We ran the models rigorously and the numbers have spoken. They reveal cost differences of mind-boggling magnitude between the various energy strategies possible.

When it comes to the choice of energy technologies, keeping an open mind, free from preconceptions, is paramount. Technologies that can be right for Europe considering its existing infrastructure, population density, or natural resources, can be wrong for others. Each country, each region, must find its own optimal way to building its energy system. Many African countries have however one important point in common: maybe more than anywhere else, the models indicate that the best path to building the most cost-optimal energy system is to maximize the use of renewable energy.

One fact must be established once and for all. The cost of renewable energy equipment has decreased very rapidly in recent years, and when this equipment runs on Africa’s massive solar and wind resources, what you have is a cost per KW/h produced that beats all other electricity technologies hands down. If you add to this the fact that most electricity grids on the continent are relatively underdeveloped, favouring renewable energy over traditional power generation like coal or gas turbine power plants becomes a no-brainer.

Although relatively ambitious renewable energy targets have been set by governments across the continent, it does not always go far enough. Contrary to what some industry and political leaders may believe, maximizing the amount of renewable energy that can be built in the system is by far the cheapest strategy available, while at the same time ensuring a stable, reliable network.

In Africa, renewables must become the new baseload. And yes, renewables are intermittent. But combining them to flexible power generation capacities will guarantee the stability of the grid and save billions of dollars along the way.

It would be misguided to consider the intermittency of renewables as a showstopper. It is not, provided they are paired up with highly flexible forms of electricity generation like gas engine power plants.

To maintain a balanced system, flexible back-up and peak power must be available to ramp up production at the same rate that wind or solar production fluctuates, but also to match the fluctuating energy demand within the day. The systems must be able to respond to huge daily variations in a matter of seconds or minutes.

Gas engine power plants are the only source of backup generation that is designed to do just that. They will keep the system safe, while allowing the grid to accommodate huge amounts of cheap renewable energy. For Senegal alone, to take only one example, the studies reveal a $480 Million difference in total system cost over the next 15 years between a system incorporating lots of renewables combined to flexible gas engines, and a system built around inflexible thermal generation and minimal renewable capacity.

Renewables and flexible gas are the two pillars of a winning energy strategy for Africa. Similar studies conducted on other African countries indicate that this energy mix strategy will provide efficiencies worth billions of dollars continent-wide over the next few decades.

Highly ambitious renewable energy objectives in Africa are not only achievable, but they are also the soundest and cheapest strategy for the successful electrification of the continent. Making the smart strategy decisions will lead to more resilient electricity systems and offer vastly superior whole-system efficiencies.

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