Why a Brazilian builder wants UKEF money for work in Africa

(Construction News, London, 3 March 2020) UK financing of foreign projects designed to boost British supply chain involvement is booming. Ghana’s Kejetia open-air market is the largest in West Africa and is also a health and safety nightmare. Ghana decided to create a more modern facility and approached a Brazilian builder established in the region to design and build a multi-storey covered market to replace Kejetia. The second phase of the programme – a 160,000 m2 building – is guaranteed to feature work from British subcontractors. It could, for example, include Scottish steel and be illuminated by lights created in London. Why? Because UK Export Finance, the government’s export credit agency, has provided a £70m loan to help the Ghanaian government finance the project, costing up to $700m (£543m). UKEF funding decisions are not without criticism. Their financing of projects led by companies with minimal presence in the UK has raised questions about whether British businesses are benefiting as much as they are supposed to and last year a select committee of MPs began scrutinising some of the deals by UKEF as part of an inquiry into the organisation’s financing of fossil-fuel projects.