Fact Checker: Claim that University of Environment and Sustainable Devt started under Akufo-Addo false
President Akufo Addo yesterday commissioned the Main Campus of the University of Environment and Sustainable Development in Somanya in the Eastern Region. Hours before the commissioning the NDC in Yilo Krobo issued a statement asking the President not to re-visit his usual habit of taking credit for what he has no hand in and to appreciate the efforts of his predecessor John Dramani Mahama. The NDC said the project was one of the dreams of the NDC made possible by Former President Mahama and former Education Minister Prof. Naana Jane Opoku Agyeman. A few hours later, there was a counter statement from the Krobo Bloc NPP Communication Bureau titled “Setting the records right about the University of Environment and Sustainability development (UESD)”. In that statement, the NPP claimed that the opposition NDC lied about securing funds for the construction of the University. The party claimed that the NDC included the project in all budgets from 2009 but failed to implement and that it was only under Nana Addo’s government that the project was started and completed. Seeing as this is an election year and issues of infrastructure will play a crucial role in the electioneering campaign, starrfmfactchecker deems it necessary to subject the claims made by both parties to some scrutiny.
ABOUT UESD: The University is a government of Ghana project through the ministry of education. It is a new university at Trom-Somanya in the Yilo Krobo Municipality in the Eastern Region with the view to improving equitable access to tertiary education in Ghana. Given that there are universities in the other regions of the country, the University of Environment and Sustainable Development (UESD) will specialize in the conduct of research and knowledge dissemination in the sciences, agro-business and the built environment. This new university will offer general and specialized programs to fill the gaps and ensure well rounded training for environmental and sustainable development professionals in Ghana. These include degree programs and research in climate change, water resources development, energy sustainability, energy economics and policy, urban architecture, natural resources and environmental economics, environmental policy and environmental science. The project involves the development of complete infrastructure to support the functions of the university.
The website, www.uesd-ghana.com names Brazilian Engineering Company CONTRACTA ENGENHARIA as the contractor in charge of the project. However documents from parliament and utterances from government officials name an Italian firm Contracta Construizioni Italia SRL as the company undertaking the project. Checks by Starrfmfactchecker show that the Italian firm is a company under Contracta Engenharia Ltda which is the parent company. https://www.dnb.com/business-directory/company-profiles.contracta_costruzioni_italia_srl.5738dbe7b8831d0fae1cbe6c0c2778c7.html
In order to identify the facts surrounding the construction of the University of Environment and Sustainable Development, we want to present a timeline of the events leading to yesterday’s commissioning of the first phase of the project;
2012– then governing NDC in the executive summary of its manifesto stated that it will establish “a new public University in the Eastern Region to complete the NDC’s vision of providing a public University campus in every Region of the country and also to expand academic and residential facilities on existing campuses”( NDC 2012 Manifesto, Page 8)
April 2013- President Mahama inaugurated a 12-member committee to develop the roadmap for the establishment of the University.https://www.mahamalegacy.com/project/university-of-environment-and-sustainable-development-somanya-campus/. The committee was chaired by Professor Raymond Benning-Amoako-Nuamah
February 2014- President Mahama said in his State of the Nation Address that the establishment of the first University in the Eastern Region is becoming a reality and added that the 12 member committee has completed work. He stated then, that the draft bill will be presented to parliament soon. https://www.myjoyonline.com/news/full-transcript-president-john-mahamas-2014-state-of-the-nation-address/
Shortly after his State of the Nation Address, Education Minister Prof. Naana Jane Opoku Agyeman presented the memorandum of the bill to establish the university to parliament. Clause 3 of that memorandum stated that the “The University shall be established in Somanya and shall have (a) its first campus in Donkorkrom and any other place in the Eastern region; (b) other campuses in any other place as the Council may determine”.
June 2015: The 12-member committee tasked to develop the roadmap for the construction of the University submitted its report to President Mahama. https://www.graphic.com.gh/news/general-news/committee-presents-report-on-establishment-of-university-in-e-r.html
2016: President Mahama endorsed the approved bill which was subsequently ratified by parliament that year. On 20th October 2016, Finance Minister Seth Terkper presented the loan agreement for the establishment of the University to parliament. There were three papers;
- Buyer Credit Facility Agreement between the Government of the Republic of Ghana and Deutsche Bank S.p.A. and its affiliates in the sum of up to Thirty-Eight Million, Seven Hundred and Thirty-Eight Thousand, Seven Hundred and Fifty Euros (€38,738,750.00) for the development of the University of Environment and Sustainable Development. The committee report on this agreement was submitted on 27th October 2020, a motion was moved a day later and it was passed that same day, October 28.
- Commercial Loan Agreement between the Government of the Republic of Ghana and Deutsche Bank S.p.A. and its affiliates in the sum of up to Six Million, Eight Hundred and Thirty-Six Thousand, Two Hundred and Fifty Euros (€6,836,250.00) for the development of the University of Environment and Sustainable Development. The committee report on this agreement was submitted on 27th October 2020, a motion was moved a day later and it was passed that same day, October 28.
- The final paper was the Commercial Contract between the Government of the Republic of Ghana and Contracta Construzione Italia Srl. in the sum of up to FortyFive Million, Five Hundred and Seventy-Five Thousand Euros (€45,575,000.00) for the development of the University of Environment and Sustainable Development
SOURCE: LOANS, TREATIES and CONVENTIONS, 6th Parliament
With funds secured and the bill passed, President Mahama cut the sod for the construction of the main campus of the University of Environment and Sustainable Development on Thursday, December 29, 2016, just days before he was to hand over to then-president-elect Nana Addo Danquah Akufo Addo. At the sod-cutting ceremony, President Mahama expressed hope that their “our exploits and initiatives will be sustained for the betterment of Ghana,” https://www.graphic.com.gh/news/general-news/prez-cuts-sod-for-university-of-environment-and-sustainable-development.html
JAN 2018- Work began on the construction of the University in Somanya. Minister of state in charge of tertiary education Prof. Kwesi Yankah granted an interview to the Daily Graphic in which he said that the Akufo Addo government had no intention of abandoning the project. He said work had started as early as December 4 the previous year. The minister explained that the delay in beginning the project was because of some technical challenges. https://www.businessghana.com/site/news/general/157807/Work-begins-on-Somanya-Campus-of-Environment-University
On July 18, 2018, GBC reported that parliament had adopted the 90 million dollar loan agreement between the government of Ghana and the Exim-Import Bank of Korea for the construction of the Bunso Campus of the UESD( https://www.gbcghana.com/1.11666789 . The minority had raised concerns about the decision by the government to set up the satellite campus of the University at Bunso instead of Donkorkrom as stated in act 898 which established the university. Another concern the caucus had about the move by the government was the cost of the project. The NDC MPs maintained that the 90 million dollar price tag for the Bunso project was outrageous especially since the main campus was constructed at 45 million euros. https://www.ayoffycial.com/2018/minority-kicks-against-illogical-90m-loan-for-uesd-bunso-campus-project/
So let’s note this; per the act that established the University, while the main campus was to be sited in Somanya, the satellite campuses were to be in Donkorkrom first and then any other in the region as may be determined by the University Council. The minority, therefore, felt the government violating the provisions of the act and brought about this controversy over whether the government was relocating the University to Bunso. In November 2018 while on a three-day tour of the Eastern Region, President Akufo Addo asked the chiefs and people in Somanya to disregard the claims. https://www.graphic.com.gh/news/general-news/university-of-environment-sustainable-dev-won-t-be-relocated-prez-says-as-he-begins-e-r-tour-ghana-news.html
January 2020: The first phase of the project was completed. According to the Minister of State in charge of tertiary education, the University will begin admissions in the 2020 academic year. https://www.modernghana.com/news/978727/er-university-of-environment-and-sustainable.html
May 2020: According to President Akufo Addo, the agreement for the second phase of the Main Campus project was signed on 6th May 2020 with M/S Contract and valued at forty-nine million, eight hundred and ninety-one thousand, ninety-eight euros to be completed within thirty (30) months of signature of the agreement.
On August 5, 2020 President Akufo Addo commissioned the first phase of the main campus of the University of Environment and Sustainable Development.
From the above, the facts show that the NDC government did more than just the enactment of Act 898 which established the University of Environment and Sustainable Development. Not only was the project captured in the 2012 Manifesto of the NDC, but the previous NDC administration began the process for the beginning of the project. This is manifest in the setting up of the 12-member committee that worked on the roadmap for the construction of the University. Then outgoing President Mahama also cut the sod for the beginning of the project in December 2016. Contrary to the NPP’s claim that Nana Akufo Addo did all it takes to mobilize funds for the construction of the University, the 45 million euros for the first phase of the project was secured and approved by parliament in October 2016 under the NDC government. The NPP’s claim that the framework agreement was signed between the government and the Exim Bank of Korea for the construction of the University is misleading. The facts remain that the first phase of the project was signed between the government and the Deutsche Bank in 2016. Indeed the Exim Bank of Korea is providing funding for the satellite campus of the University at Bunso and not the Main Campus at Somanya which was commissioned yesterday. That agreement involving the Exim Bank of Korea was approved by parliament in July 2018, more than 6 months after work on the Somanya Main Campus project had started. It is also not true that the previous government reneged on an agreement by bringing in a contractor from Brazil which led to protests by Exim Bank. On the website www.uesd-ghana.com, the company contracted to undertake the main campus project is a Brazilian named CONTRACTA ENGENHARIA which is the parent company of the Italian firm Contracta Construizioni Italia SRL which implemented the project. Based on the facts, starrfmfactchecker finds the claim by the governing NPP that the opposition NDC lied about securing funds for the construction of the University is false. Finally, it cannot be said that it was only under Nana Addo’s government that the project was started and completed. We rate the NPP’s claims as outright lies and therefore rated 2 stars.