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22.05.2006 General News

IFC Offers Ghana Leasing Lifeline

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The International Finance Corporation (IFC),a private sector arm of the World Bank Group, has offered the Ghana Leasing Programme a technical assistance package to improve the country's investment climate.

The package includes facilitating the enhancement of legislative, tax and accounting environment for leasing; capacity-building training for lessors, lessees, government officials and other stakeholders in the leasing industry.

Other facilities provided under the package are the development of business through the creation of opportunities for new local and foreign investment in leasing through developing linkages between lessees, equipment manufacturers and financial institutions; and launching of public education campaign.

Announcing the package at a media briefing in Accra, the Programme Manager, in-charge of Leasing at the IFC, Ms Taba A. Cookey, said the technical assistance was aimed at promoting the role of leasing as an alternative financing mechanism for businesses in Ghana and to enhance leasing practices to benefit private sector development especially Small and Medium Scale Enterprises (SMEs) in the country.

"This is in line with the general mission of IFC to promote a sustainable private sector investment in developing countries, help reduce poverty and improve people's lives," she said.

Ms Cookey said the Ghana's Leasing Programme, which would be launched on June 5, during the 10th African Leasing Convention in Accra, was being implemented under the IFC's Private Enterprise Partnership for Africa (PEP Africa) programme.

PEP Africa, which represents a significant scaling up in the depth of IFC's technical assistance and advisory work in Africa, seeks to provide innovative solutions for the development of Ghana's private sector.

It would, in addition, support IFC's investment strategy in Africa, which includes improving the business environment, proactively identifying investment opportunities, and supporting the growth of SMEs.

Responding to questions, Ms Cookey admitted that leasing had been relatively new in Africa, but said that "the untapped opportunities are enormous so are the challenges," and urged Ghanaian SMEs to take advantage of the environment created by the Ghana Leasing programme.

She explained that the global average for lease penetration was approximately 20 per cent but unfortunately in sub-Saharan Africa the estimate was only one per cent.

Ms Cookey disclosed that since its establishment in 1956, IFC had approved over one billion dollars for investment in 103 equipment-leasing companies in 58 countries and had offered technical advice on leasing legislations in over 50 countries.

The media was also briefed on the 10th African Leasing Convention scheduled for June 5 to 9 and expected to be attended by international leasing experts.

It would attract participants from senior executives in public and private sector institutions from more than 15 African countries.

The convention is being sponsored jointly by IFC through its Private Enterprise Partnership and African Leasing Association (Afrolease), while the Swiss Government is sponsoring the Ghana Leasing Programme.