The University of Ghana (UG), Legon, stands the risk of losing most, if not all of its assets, in the not-too-distant future.
That is if the premier public university fails to payback a loan of $64m.
This was disclosed by the Minister of Education, Mathew Opoku-Prempeh, Monday.
The amount was borrowed from Africa Integras, a private firm to construct Faculty offices on campus but ‘it cannot be accounted for’.
The University, back in 2015, entered into a Public Private Partnership (PPP) agreement with Africa Integras to invest US$64 million in the construction of 1,000 new students’ hostel beds for undergraduate and post-graduate students on the Legon campus. The project was structured as a 25-year Build, Operate and Transfer (BOT) contract.
The BOT agreement was signed by Professor Ernest Aryeetey, then Vice-Chancellor of the University of Ghana, on behalf of the University, while Ms Andrea Pizziconi, Managing Partner at Africa Integras, initialed for her Organization.
Some have raised questions about the deal, particularly relating to the overall cost to the University.
Speaking to Kwami Sefa-Kayi in a one-on-one interaction on Peace FM’s morning show, Monday, the Education Minister disclosed that the amount was borrowed “about two or three years ago according to Legon…the council has described it ($64m) as the worst contract the school had gone for and they didn’t even inform government before going for the loan.
UG needs to pay 10million dollars for 25 years and by the time they redeem themselves, they would have paid 250million. If they are not able to pay, their assets will be confiscated.”
The Minister therefore wished public universities would involve government in its decision-making on such matters.
Asked if it will not be considered as interference on the part of government in the administration of the university, since the universities are considered to be autonomous, he said: “it is about time we realize that Management of a university is different from academic freedom…universities need to be open to government…they are not autonomous”
In July 2014, under the leadership of Prof. Ernest Aryeetey, the UG entered a contract with Africa Integras, a private investment company with headquarters in New York, to construct five buildings for the university on a Build Operate and Transfer (BOT) basis.
The project was to consist of the construction of an expanded facility for the College of Humanities, a complex for the new College of Education, a new building complex for the College of Basic and Applied Sciences, a complex to house the Institute of Technology and Applied Science and a building for the College of Health Sciences to aid the university in relocating the medical school to the UG campus from its present location in the Korle Bu Teaching Hospital.
Graphic.com.gh reported in 2017 that the project has come to a standstill due to disagreement between the current Vice Chancellor (VC) of the University, Prof. Ebenezer Oduro Owusu, and his predecessor, Prof. Ernest Aryeetey, over the viability of the project.