In 2006, OPIC provided a $1.74 million loan to support expansion of the International Community School (ICS) in Kumasi, Ghana, allowing the school to double enrollment to more than 1,000 K-12 students. Unlike some other international schools in Ghana that serve a largely expatriate population, ICS focuses on educating Ghanaians to prepare them to be leaders in their own communities and in the world. Indeed Ghanaians comprise 91% of the student body and 94% of the staff of ICS.
At the time OPIC committed the loan, Ghana’s education system was in decline as a result of poor educational standards and deteriorating facilities. As the only internationally accredited school in Kumasi – Ghana’s second largest city – that provided a world-class education, ICS’ expansion was critical to limiting the exodus of talented children leaving Kumasi to Accra, or even abroad, to attend school.
A 2012 site-monitoring visit by team from OPIC’s Office of Investment Policy confirmed that ICS’s expansion had indeed increased the opportunities for quality education available to children from Kumasi and the surrounding region. The team also found that the expansion was having a broader development impact than OPIC had anticipated based on information ICS had provided in its initial application for financing. In terms of direct economic impact, the expansion created three times more jobs at the school than anticipated and contributed to the broader Ghanaian economy more than expected by relying almost completely on local procurement for construction materials and services.
ICS’ expansion also led to positive development outcomes in ways that are less easily quantified but similarly important. As the first internationally accredited school and only SAT center in northern Ghana, ICS is a leader in technology and knowledge transfer in the education sector. For example, it has brought in software to track student performance and to support the school’s human resources system. The expansion has also helped attract business to the region: OPIC’s monitoring team discovered that a Swedish mining company had located an office complex near the school to benefit its staff through the availability of high quality educational opportunities for their children.
OPIC’s work in ensuring it supports projects that will deliver a strong development impact starts during the initial review process. OPIC also monitors active projects from inception through conclusion with questionnaires and site-monitoring visits. These visits allow OPIC to gain a better understanding of the development impact of individual projects, as the ICS example illustrates. They serve a broader purpose as well, as the lessons learned from these visits help OPIC improve its ability to target projects with high development impact and identify best practices relevant to future projects.
This post is the fourth in a series on OPIC’s work measuring and monitoring the developmental impact of the projects it supports. To view the previous post, see:
Five ways development impacts lives
OPIC’s Office of Investment Policy
A conversation with Margaret Kuhlow of OPIC’s Office of Investment Policy