Skills Development Fund Awards GH�41.3 Million Grants

The Skills Development Fund (SDF) has awarded grants, totalling GH� 41.3 million to 170 firms and organisations in support of innovative skills and technology development initiatives in the public and private sectors. The grants were offered under the Fund�s 4th Call for Proposal to beneficiaries, including the University of Cape Coast, Directorate of Research and Innovation, Ghana National Association of Poultry Farmers, Family Health Hospital and the Association of Oil Marketing Companies. The Fund is an initiative of government and managed by the Council for Technical and Vocational Education and Training (COTVET). The World Bank has so far supported it with $50 million credit facility and DANIDA $10 Million. Speaking at the awards ceremony, Mr Matthew Dally, Project Coordinator and Head of the COTVET Project Support Unit (PSU) said the Unit would ensure that the funds disbursed are efficiently utilised in line with the contractual commitments and to the ultimate benefit of the Ghanaian private sector and businesses. He said PSU is working hard to streamline and minimise the turnaround time for grant requests and urged the grantees to be mindful of the need to respect and observe the existing grant management system, which has numerous checks and balancing mechanisms that assures accountability and transparency. �I also urge grantees not to delay unduly in implementing their activities as this has a tendency of delaying project implementation and subsequent disbursements,� Mr Dally said. He said to ensure effective management of feedback, the PSU has installed a multi lingual Interactive Voice Response System, which allows for a Toll Free 24- hour grants enquiry on MTN Short code 30045. Grantees are advised to make their enquiries in English, Akan, Ga, Ewe or Dagbani on the Interactive Voice Response System. Mr Ato Simpson, Manager of the Skills Development Fund, said the Fund is a challenge fund aimed at addressing the skills and technology needs of business enterprises operating in both the formal and the informal sectors of the economy. He said SDF would closely monitor the implementation of interventions to ensure that their use fall within the objectives of the grant and also achieve the expected outcomes. Mr Okudzeto Ablakwa, Deputy Minister of Education, said it is the aspiration of Government and its Development Partners to provide sustainable funding to address deficits in skills and technology within the key productive sectors of the economy. He said the SDF agenda amplifies the relevance of skills and technology in every emerging or industrialised economy. Mr Ablakwa said this could be done by ensuring the outcomes of SDF funding reflecting in quality improvements in their productivity, incomes and profit thereby creating avenues for increased employment. He called for efficient monitoring and evaluation system to ensure that activities of the grantees are closely monitored for optimum productivity. The Fund has since 2011 approved $39 million to more than 400 firms, science and research institutions, trade associations and farmer based groups.