Ghana’s organised private sector spent $7.5 million within 10 weeks to build an ultra- modern facility in fight against the COVID- 19 pandemic, while their Nigerian counterpart used $84m to construct tents for the same purpose.

The 100-bed Ghana Infectious Disease Centre (GIDC), comprising a level three Biomedical laboratory, a 21-bed Intensive Care Unit, a dispensary, a triage unit, waiting areas, nurses’ station, VIP and general wards and a medical gas house, was constructed through the collaboration of civilian and military engineers, planners and architects within three months.

The donors include: Bank of Ghana, Association of Bankers GNPC, Fidelity Bank, Ecobank, Ghana National Gas Company,

CH Group, Legend and Glass Aluminium Systems, and Tropical Cable and Conductors.

“Building a real hospital initially seemed like an outrageous idea, because we all thought we were just going to put some tent together and increase the facility in case our numbers went up,” Edward Effah, CEO, Fidelity Bank GH said.

But, through the persistent drive of Justice Yankson, the general secretary of the Ghana Medical Association, Effah said Ghana decided to use the resources that were donated by the private sector professionals to build an actual hospital.

“We were lucky to have Yankson as he was very empathic that Ghana needed a permanent infectious disease treatment centre,” Effah said. Ten weeks later, Ghana was able to build a fully equipped hospital ready for use.

However, Nigerian banks in collaboration with the Central Bank of Nigeria ( CBN) and the private sector have focused on sustaining livelihoods impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic through Coalition Against COVID- 19 (CACOVID).

CACOVID is a Cbn-led private sector initiative that has contributed over $84m to fight Covid- 19. Access Bank is at the centre of the project, helping to improve the livelihood of people badly affected by the Covid-19 pandemic.

On March 26, 2020, the CBN on behalf of the Bankers’ Committee and in partnership with the private sector-led by Aliko Dangote Foundation and Access Bank came together to form the CACOVID.

Industry watchers are concerned about how banks in Ghana built a real hospital, Nigeria constructed tents that are being blown away by wind. There has been rising call by Nigerians for full accountability of the private sector COVID donations. They want to know how procurement was handled and why no tenders were published for procurement.

Mahamudu Bawumia, Ghana’s vice president, who commissioned the facility last Friday, said with the sacrifices, dedication and ingenuity exhibited by Ghanaians, the government had decided to award the 88 district hospitals, six regional hospitals in newly created regions and a psychiatric hospital to local contractors.

Speaking with Businessday, the private sector leaders say they want an open and publicised bid process for all procurement linked to the fund.

“There is so much opaqueness, no one knows total collected and spent so far,” one source claims, wondering why the CBN should be leading a private initiative such as this.

The calls for transparency and accountability around the monies donated by private individuals and companies have prompted groups like the Socio- Economic Rights and Accountability Project ( SERAP) and the Human and Environmental Development Agenda (HEDA Resource Centre) to demand donations details from the CBN.

Since early 2020, when the coronavirus became a global pandemic, countries around the world have been battling to contain the challenges of keeping people alive and safe, and also preserving livelihoods.