Government, through the Skills Development Fund (SDF), established under the Council for Technical and Vocational Education and Training (COTVET), has provided grant totaling GH¢41.3 million to some 170 firms and organizations drawn from both the private and public sectors.
The SDF, setup by government in 2011 is a challenge fund which is to address the skills and technological needs of business enterprises operating in both the formal and informal sectors of Ghana’s economy.
It is also to support innovative skills and technology development initiatives in the public and private sectors.
Among the grantees were; Tamale Polytechnic, Association of Oil Marketing Companies (OMCs), University of Cape Coast, (UCC) Aglow Farms, Ghana Progressive Hotels Association, Binaba Women Farmers Association, and Tour Guides Association of Ghana (TORGAG).
Others were, Ghana Chefs Association, Aglow Farms, Eagle Production, Family Health Hospital, Nzema Manle Pig Farm Association, National Association of Beauticians and Hairdressers, recently built University of Energy and Natural Resources in the Brong Ahafo Region.
The presentation of the cheques, took place at a short ceremony in Accra, last Thursday.
The money, which was received from the World Bank and Danish International Development Agency (DANIDA), is to address two critical challenges encountered by the productive sectors of Ghana; namely a qualified and skilled labour force and the acquisition and development of technology. It is also to increase productivity and practical innovations.
The fund, which is in its fourth year, supports initiatives that address the needs of continuous skills upgrading, technology acquisition and innovation, and market-oriented research and development.
A Deputy Minister of Education in-charge of Tertiary, Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa, said the fund was aimed at strengthening the productive capacity, competitiveness, income levels and employment creation in industry, by providing grants to finance skills and technology upgrading in the productive sectors of the Ghanaian economy.
According to the Member of Parliament (MP) for North Tongu, until the disbursement of the grant few years ago, groups such as God is Great Yam, Cassava and Maize Farmers Group in Kpasa, lost most of their produce, during bumper harvest, due to lack of knowhow in the preservation and storage of their produce.
Mr. Okudzeto Ablakwa, who is the COTVET Project Steering Committee Chairman, praised the two donors; World Bank which gave US$50 million and DANIDA US$10 million, respectively.
The former Deputy Information Minister, was hopeful that, just like the previous three disbursements, the latest funds were going to be put to good use by grantees to benefit the Ghanaian economy.
He said “this can be done by ensuring the benefit of the outcome of SDF funding reflect in quality improvements in their productivity, incomes and profit, thereby creating avenues for increased employment.
The Deputy Minister of Education, was commended for the instrumental role he played in the fourth SDF programme to beneficiaries.
A Skills Development Fund Manager at the World Bank, Ebenezer Ato Simpson, who congratulated the grantees, said the fund is given to firms, groups, and organizations that presented well crafted programme that is able to convince authorities, adding that there is a stiff competition with the selection of beneficiaries for the free money.
Mr. Simpson said, due to the immense contributions and the lives the Fund has affected, it has become a household name adding that it has had some level of significance on people, despite the short period that it has been in place.
He continued that even though the money is free, it needed to be given with circumspection and thoroughness, noting that the grantees who showed up at the ceremony to receive their cheques, showed enough commitment and genuine need for support.
Mr. Simpson mentioned the likes of Horseman Shoes Enterprise, as one of the many Ghanaian companies that have enjoyed the generosity of SDP.
He implored the grantees to utilize the grant to achieve the objective of the project, while improving productivity to compete with the world market.
The World Bank representative, Eunice Yaa Brimfah Ackwerh, implored grantees to be good ambassadors of the Fund and promised the World Bank’s continual support to the fund to better the lives of Ghanaians.
The Project Coordinator and Head of the COTVET-Project Support Unit, Mathew Dally, was happy about the increment in the number of grantees; from six with a grants value of US$750,000 in 2012 to over 400 grantees with a grants value of US$39 million.
He said, his outfit has ensured the existence of a robust but transparent grants marking system that ensures confidence and value for money.
Mr. Dally said, “not only have we given grants over the years, we have monitored their utilization to ensure that they conform to
contractual obligations of grantees. We have also provided financial and procurement management support to enable grantees use grants in
accordance with prudent financial and procurement practices”.