National Cathedral: Changing cost and contradictions

In a dialogue with a section of the clergy on June 3, 2024, in Accra, Vice President and Flagbearer of the New Patriotic Party, Dr Mahamudu Bawumia, said the clergy should work with the government to ensure the completion of the project.

“I think that, as it stands now, I think the church has to come together with the government and let us sit down and talk about the way forward for the national cathedral, how we can even get private resources to help us complete the cathedral,” he said.

However, since President Akufo-Addo announced the building of a cathedral to fulfil a pledge he made to God before he won the 2016 elections, the cost of the project has been a moving target.

On Thursday, March 7, 2024, the secretary of the Board of Trustees in charge of the National Cathedral project, Rev. Victor Kusi Boateng, said in an interview on Onua TV that the project will cost the country in excess of $300 million.

“If we get between $200 to $250 million, we will be able to complete the cathedral. Our museum, which we have named the Bible Museum of Africa will cost us around 300 and something million dollars,” he said.

The figure is more than double the initial cost of the project the government communicated.

In this article, Fact-Check Ghana highlights how the government and the Board of Trustees have altered the cost of the project since 2019 and how all these figures contradict the amount divulged by the company contracted to build the cathedral.

In an interview on Accra-based Asempa FM in November 2019, the former finance minister, Ken Ofori-Atta, said the project will cost $100 million.

Close to two years later, in August 2021, Rev Kusi Boateng said on Joy News that the $100 million mentioned by Mr Ofori-Atta was tentative. He said the project will cost $200 million. He explained that a decision to add a Bible Museum and a Biblical Garden doubled the cost.

“The $100 million figure as we heard from the Finance Minister’s own mouth was when we were still working on the Cathedral and we had not advanced from the Bible Museum to the Biblical gardens. We are still working on the figures but we have been informed that it will be more than the amount that it was pegged at.

“[So,] let’s say with $200 million we should be able to do these things,” he said.

On Sunday, June 12, 2022, Mr Ofori-Atta said on Ghana’s state-owned broadcaster, GTV, that the expected total cost was $350 million.

“I think it’s meant to be about $350 million and that’s the expectation… we will be pushing for private sector mobilisation, that is Ghanaian citizens understanding the support that they must give to establish that [National Cathedral], and the government is always in the background to ensure that the process moves on,” he said.

In that same month in 2022, the lawyer for Rizzani de Eccher, the construction company contracted to build the cathedral, mentioned a different figure.

In an interview with Legal500, the lawyer, Simone Bagnariol, said his legal team has been able to finalise a $400 million contract for a cathedral project in Ghana.

When asked to mention some of the significant cases or transactions his legal team had been involved in, Bagnariol said:

“Our legal team has just been able to finalise a $400 million contract for the project of a cathedral in Ghana. We secured a €200m deal for the new headquarters of the European Investment Bank in Luxemburg. The Rizzani de Eccher legal team has also been involved in the final arbitration hearing against a state of the Gulf for a total of $300 million.”

In summary, the government said the National Cathedral project will be completed with $100 million. The figure increased to $200 million in 2021. The former finance minister, Ken Ofori Atta told the country that the expected amount needed to complete the project was $350 million in 2022. The lead lawyer for the construction company in charge of the project said in June 2022 that the project will cost $400 million.

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