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May 9, 2015

EU partners UniBank to assist SMEs in Ghana


Accra, May 9, GNA - The European Union through its lending institution, the European Investment Bank (EIB), has provided 10 million Euros to UniBank Ghana to support private businesses across the country.

The EIB’s new lending agreement with UniBank Ghana is the third scheme to support investment in the country under an 80 million Euros credit facility launched in 2013 to improve access to finance by companies.

Speaking at the signing, over the weekend in Accra, Mr Isaia Romolo, the Senior Loan Officer of the European Investment Bank said the bank had for the past 40 years supported private sector investment across Ghana.

He said the new agreement would build on the success of similar cooperation with leading banks across Africa and support important new corporate investment across the country.

“This significant new lending programme will increase investments by the private sector and strengthen the role of local banks,” Mr Romolo said.

“Today’s support of 10 million Euros to Unibank, together with the facilities already provided to Societe General and Ecobank to improve access to finance for SMEs (small and medium scale enterprises) are crucial, since the SMEs are the backbone to Ghana’s economy,” he said.

Mr Romolo said the new credit would allow UniBank to provide loans in both Euros and dollars, with tenure of up to eight years.

He said lending under the scheme would support investment in agriculture, manufacturing, construction, transport, education and healthcare as well as reinforcing long-term investments by Ghanaian companies crucial for supporting economic growth.

He said UniBank Ghana, which is a wholly owned Ghanaian bank, was chosen after a thorough and diligent selection process.

Mr Romolo said the EIB had provided nearly 600 million Euros to support public and private sector investment in Ghana since 1976 saying: “This has included direct loans, credit lines with local banks and investment in smaller projects by private equity or microfinance funds.”

He said the interest rate on the loans to SMEs, which would access the fund from UniBank is far lower than they would get on the Ghanaian market, adding that, in 2014, the bank invested about 2.5 billion Euros in Africa.

Mr Felix Nyarko-pong, the Chief Executive Officer, UniBank Ghana, welcomed the EIB facility and assured clients of the bank’s readiness to support their banking and financial needs.

He appealed to the EIB to provide additional funding to enable the bank to support many more SMEs.

Mr William Hanna, the EU Ambassador to Ghana, said the EIB is a bank with solid reputation in Europe and has triple 'A' ratings.

He pledged the readiness of the EU to do all it could to support the socio-economic development of the country. – GNA