Accra, Ghana: Ghana's Energy Minister Joe Oteng-Adjei has cautioned Indian companies against bringing their nationals to work on contracts in the country, instead of engaging Ghanaians who could perform those roles. “We don't expect you to bring in a ship-full of Indians to climb poles when we have more qualified people here who could as well perform the task,” Oteng-Adjei said, signing an agreement with India's MBH Power and Shreem Electrical Limited in Accra.

His comments come at a time of high unemployment and the government's desire to ensure that foreign companies engage locals under the insistence on local content policy that has started with the oil sector.

The two companies are to work on a project to supply electricity to 110 communities across two regions as part of a USD 18-million national electrification project.

The project, financed by the Ecowas Bank for Investment and Development, is under the government's Self Help Electrification Project (SHEP) and will see an increase in supply of electricity across the Brong Ahafo and Ashanti regions within the next 18 months.

Oteng-Adjei also warned the companies against the maltreatment of Ghanaian employees.

“The government would not hesitate to recall the company and its people, should they engage in acts of derogatory remarks and actions aimed at dehumanising indigenes in the beneficiary communities.”

This warning comes in the wake of complaints against foreign companies using derogatory remarks against Ghanaians who work for them.

“My advice, therefore, to you as contractors is to ensure that Ghanaians, particularly indigenes in the beneficiary communities, become involved in the execution of the project.”

MBH Power Managing Director Bagu Mukhi said the processes for the award of the contract were transparent, adding Ghana remained the country with most potential in Africa that has ensured the integration of power supply as part of the country's overall growth.

The project is  part of the government's effort to boost electricity coverage to 80 percent by 2015 and universal access by 2020.

(Agencies)