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Fresh water is necessary for the survival of all living organisms on Earth and humans cannot survive more than a few days without it. Climate change, urbanisation and a growing population, however, combine to exacerbate the lack of clean water in many regions, and West Africa is no exception.

A new water treatment project in Ghana, using Swedish technology and know-how, financed by Standard Chartered Bank and SEK with risk cover from EKN, will dramatically increase access to clean water in the Sunyani region. The source of the water is the mighty Tano river, which runs 400 kilometres from north to south. Tano is the god of war and strife in the Ashanti mythology of Ghana.

The 133-million-euro project involves a new treatment plant, new pumps, 230 kilometres of pipes to 19 villages, reservoirs, tanks and pumping stations. In the colonial era, Ghana was aptly referred to as The Gold Coast and illegal mining activities upstream remain a source of contamination that will be efficiently removed by purification technology from Sweden’s Nordic Water. Construction work will be done by Serneke International Group, while architecture and engineering consultancy Sweco handles overall design and the environmental assessment of the project.

“Water is life and this project will deliver huge benefits to the local population,” says Björn Olausson, President of trading house Elof Hansson, which coordinates and integrates all Swedish deliveries. At the Swedish construction company Serneke International Group, CEO Prashant Agarwal agrees. “It’s a very special project with a strong social and environmental impact.”

Structured as Social Loan

Upgrading the existing facilities will boost water treatment capacity to 55,000 cubic metres of water per day and give 400,000 people access to clean water by 2040.

“The project is life changing and will have a huge impact on daily life and greatly improve conditions for people in the region,” says Sophie Taintor, project manager at Sweco. “When people lack access to clean water they often rely on unsafe sources that may cause waterborne diseases. Walking long distances to fetch clean water is often the duty of women and young girls, which means they can’t go to school or participate in economic activities.”

To be sure, the social and environmental benefits of the project are prime reasons why Standard Chartered Bank supports the project, explains Desislava Radeva, Director Structured Export Finance. “The very nature of the project aligns to our brand promise ‘here for good’ in our local communities. The water supply expansion will have a significant impact on people in the region and supports the Government of Ghana’s strategic objective to meet the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) to ensure that by the year 2030 all people living in Ghana have access to safe potable water.”

While the environmental and social assessment of the project is yet to be concluded, project partners are confident that the project will meet the requirements for a Social Loan and Standard Chartered Bank is acting as Social Loan Coordinator: “The financing was structured as a Social Loan as per the LMA Social Principals for its use of proceeds for ‘affordable basic infrastructure’,” adds Radeva and notes that the support of the Swedish export credit system and EKN/SEK was instrumental to making it happen: “We are proud of our long standing relationships with ECAs, DFIs, FDIs and multilateral agencies around the world. We're one of only a handful of international banks that can connect clients to over 25 export credit and multilateral agencies across the world. EKN and SEK were important to help structure a competitive financing structure for both the borrower and the exporters.”

Serneke International Group is one of the few Swedish construction companies that are active in international infrastructure projects. Agarwal confirms the importance of the Swedish export credit system: “The support helps us and other Swedish suppliers compete on the world market and become a very strong force together. Without EKN and SEK this project would not have seen the light of day. This is the way forward to bring a better world.“

The Ghana project aligns with the explicit goal that Sweden’s export credit system should contribute to sustainability and the challenges involved are a perfect match for Swedish expertise, according to Senior Underwriter Michael Regmert at EKN. “Swedish expertise in water and wastewater treatment solutions, combined with attractive financing, present an unbeatable combination.”

Meet the EPC contractor of the Sunyani Project in Ghana:

“We help expose Swedish exporters to new markets and opportunities.”

Shuki Raz, Director, Project & Structured Finance, explains why the Sunyani project proved a perfect fit for LR Group as EPC contractor.

“It’s an impact project that fully matches LR Group’s strategy of focusing on the development of rural areas in high-growth emerging economies worldwide. We have been working in Africa for more than 35 years, focusing on projects in rural areas.”

What will it mean for the local population affected?

“Today the population in the region lacks sufficient clean potable water, resulting in a high incidence of kidney disease disproportionately affecting the children. The clean water made possible by this 133-million-euro investment will improve quality of life, contribute to local development and reduce outward migration affecting the region. A broader effect will also see development of new agricultural projects.”

How important has the Swedish export credit system been to the project?

“Without EKN and SEK financing 100 percent of the project investment, the execution of this strategic project would not be feasible. Ghana’s Ministry of Finance insists on a long-term credit line with a significant element of social terms. The SEK loan based on the insurance policy of EKN meets those requirements.”

How do you find cooperating with EKN in general?

“We are very honoured to have such an effective cooperation with EKN, SEK and our Swedish partners and suppliers. At LR Group we take pride in being able to lead structuring of the EPC delivery package, incorporating the strategic role of Swedish suppliers and contractors, all resting on the attractiveness of the Swedish Export Credit System.”


About LR Group

LR Group was founded in 1985 and operates worldwide in initiation, developing, financing, construction and management of medium and large scale projects in high-growth economies all over the world. The Group operates in collaboration with hosting countries and local partners and employs over 1,500 employees worldwide. LR Group has been working in Africa for more than 35 years focusing on developing impact projects in the rural areas, typically under the EPC model.