Ghana needs to push on with preparations for this year’s African Games in Accra or risk wasting the money it has spent already, despite the severe economic crisis gripping the country, it has been claimed.
Ghana’s former President John Mahama has led calls for the cancellation of the Games with the nation facing more than 50 per cent inflation, growing debt and a sharp decline in its credit currency since the start of the year.
George Haldane-Lutterodt, a former President of the Ghana Athletics Association and a well-known economist in the country, has also claimed that the Games should be postponed or cancelled.
The West African nation has managed to secure a $3 billion (£2.5 billion/€2.8 billion) bailout from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) at the end of last year.
But, under conditions set out by the IMF, the Ghanaian Government must restructure its public debt, but it will need bondholders to agree to the changes, which is proving difficult.
The Government has so far spent $140 million (£116 million/€130 million) out of a $750 million (£624 million/€697 million) loan it obtained from Afreximbank, a pan-African multilateral trade finance institution, on constructing facilities for the Games which are due to take place between August 4 and 19.
Kwaku Ofosu Asare, chairman of the Local Organising Committee, has claimed it will cost Ghana just as much not to hold the Games as to stage it.
“I mean look at the infrastructure under construction, the monies that have gone into it and monies spent so far,” he told Ghanian newspaper Graphic Business in an interview.
“I want to assure you that the Government will mobilise the needed resources and ensure the successful hosting of the Games because hosting this tournament will boost the economy.
“Ghana has never hosted the African Games before and hosting it gives us an opportunity to win in some of the disciplines.
“One discipline; boxing, in which we have a comparative advantage, I hope, can bring honours to the country.”