Ghana’s President John Mahama has confirmed that the country will acquire another two C295 military transport aircraft from Airbus Military, which will be used on behalf of the United Nations in Mali.
Mahama revealed this on Friday during the graduation ceremony of the Ghana Military Academy Regular Career Course 53 and Special Medical Intake 1/2013 at the Ghana Military Academy and Training School in the capital Accra. In total, 82 officers graduated, including 45 army officers, 17 naval officers and 20 air force officers.
The Ghana Air Force reported Mahama as saying that negotiations were underway for the lease of two C295s for deployment in Mali. This would be the first time the United Nations would entrust such airlift capacity to an African country, local media reported.
The two new C295s will be acquired on a lease-to-purchase system, with the UN paying the Air Force for the use of the aircraft.
Ghana already operates two C295s, which it received in November 2011 and April 2012 as part of the Air Force’s modernisation drive. One aircraft is based in the capital Accra while another is based in Tamale. Last year then-Vice President Mahama said the C295s would be used in a variety of roles, from combat support to humanitarian assistance.
“We have very high expectations in this new market,” said Rafael Tentor, Senior Vice President, Programmes at Airbus Military. He was speaking at an industry briefing in late May and was referring to the market in Ghana and the use of the C295 for UN missions.
The new C295s will be operated on behalf of the Multidimensional Integrated Stabilisation Mission in Mali (MINUSMA). MINUSMA took over from the African-led International Support Mission in Mali (AFISMA) on July 1. The UN mission will have 12 600 military and police personnel when it is fully operational and will be the third biggest peacekeeping mission in Africa.
Its goal is to support the political process, carry out stabilisation tasks, protect civilians, monitor human rights and allow for the provision of humanitarian assistance and the return of displaced persons, and prepare for peaceful elections, the UN said. The Jane’s Information Group reports the UN as identifying a lack of transport aircraft as a critical problem for MINUSMA.
On Friday Mahama pointed out that Ghana was ranked fifth on the list of United Nations peacekeeping countries and was investigating the possibility of converting its 120-strong military Engineering Regiment in Mali into a battalion to help in the reconstruction of that country, according to the Ghana News Agency (GNA).