Eni, an Italian oil exploration and production company, has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Ghana to spur sustainable development initiatives in the agri-business sector.
The agreement provides for a joint definition of mechanisms to facilitate access to credit in favour of the local communities and to use available international funds to promote sustainable development initiatives.
Mr Yaw Osafo-Marfo, the Senior Minister, and Mr Claudio Descalzi, the Chief Executive Officer of ENI initialed the cooperation agreement at a ceremony held at Kyeremasu in the Dormaa Central Municipality of the Bono Region.
It was done in the presence of Mr Giuseppe Conte, the Italian Prime Minister, who later inaugurated the Okuafo Pa Agricultural Training Centre, a project constructed by the ENI as part of the MoU.
The Centre is a pilot initiative of the ENI Africa Project, which aims to support economic diversification in the agricultural sector through skill transfer and business support, particularly by means of self-sustaining agricultural consortia.
It has a campus that extends over a land area of 40 hectares and includes experimental laboratories and farming areas.
The center will provide theoretical and practical vocational training to 800 students every year in the agricultural, agri-food and zoo technical fields.
Training courses have been developed by the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST) and local universities in Italy, and trainees can focus either on farming courses or agri-business courses.
“Professional training and skill acquisition is a precondition for social and economic development. Eni intends to play an active role in defining virtuous paths for sustainable growth in the countries in which it operates, and this project is a concrete example of what we can do if we pool our resources and those of our partners,” said Mr Descalzi.
He said “since the beginning of our activities in Ghana 10 years ago we have invested a lot in sustainability initiatives, from health to renewables, we invested over seven billion dollars to develop oil and two billion dollars to develop gas for the domestic market, to feed power plants and guarantee power generation for the people”.
“Today we celebrate the first seed of a very ambitious project that will impact over one million people across Africa. We started with 800 students here but we will replicate this project and our target in Ghana is to reach 150,000 people”, he added.
Mr Osafo-Maafo said “the provision of this project is very timely since it will provide skills training in agribusiness and entrepreneurship to transform the recent good performance in the agricultural sector into big businesses along the entire value chain”.
“Besides the capacity to host about 800 trainees, this project will also engender economic activities and employment opportunities in the agricultural and livestock sector through the building of capacities, improving technical skills, supporting access to market and general development of the communities in the catchment areas of the facility”, he said.
The project, developed by Eni in collaboration with the Government of Ghana, is now enhanced by the collaboration with Cassa Depositi e Prestiti which will ensure the identification of the most appropriate mechanisms to access credit, as well as Coldiretti and Bonifiche Ferraresi, which will guarantee support in the start-up of agricultural activities.
This initiative is aimed at achieving the United Nations 2030 Agenda’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), in particular SDGs One – no poverty, SDGs four- quality education, SGDs five – gender equality, SDGs six – clean water and sanitation, SDGs eight – decent work and economic growth, SDGs 12 – responsible consumption and production and SDGs 17 – private public partnerships.