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Ghana: China to finance Bui Dam?

China is likely to finance a $600 million hydroelectric dam in northern Ghana which could boost the West African country's gold and iron ore industries, officials said during a visit by Chinese premier Wen Jiabao.
Wen is on a seven-nation tour in Africa, where China is investing heavily in resource-rich nations as it seeks access to minerals and crude oil to feed its rapid industrialisation.

"The President (John Kufuor of Ghana) presented the Bui Dam project to the Chinese as one of his priority projects and we're confident it will get funding," Yaw Afari-Donkor, Ghana's ambassador to Beijing, told Reuters on Monday.

"The initial estimated cost is 600 million dollars but we're now fleshing out detailed costing and a financing plan," he said, adding he expected a deal to be signed when Kufuor visited Beijing in November.

A joint communique issued as Wen left Ghana for Congo Republic, the next stop on his tour, said China was ready to continue discussions to find a "win-win solution" for the project but it gave no further details.

Ghana's electric power is generated largely from the Volta and Kpong Dams in the southeast, with a combined installed capacity of 1,180 megawatts, in addition to 550 megawatts from a thermal plant at Aboadze in the west.

"The Bui Dam will make a big economic impact for mining iron ore and gold in the north of the country, and it will improve power supply for everybody," finance minister Kwadwo Baah-Wiredu told Reuters.

Wen, the third high-ranking Chinese official to visit Africa in six months, said on Sunday that China's wooing of African countries was based on mutual benefit and was part of a bid to increase commodity and energy imports.

Additional information:
News date: 19/06/2006

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