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Mon, Sep

Turning potentials, challenges into opportunities

Since independence, Ghana has been trying without much success to create economic enclaves that will help attract foreign direct investments, grow domestic businesses and lift millions of the citizenry out of poverty.

These interventions have taken various shapes and forms such as tax incentives, infrastructural development in areas where access has been a hindrance to growth, as well as direct disbursements of money to the poorest and vulnerable in society.     

While these interventions are commendable, they have still not yielded the needed results, as millions across the country still struggle to feed themselves on a daily basis.

In 2014, for instance, the Ghana Living Standards Survey (GLSS) showed that about 24.2 per cent of the populace lived below the poverty line.

This meant that some 6.4 million Ghanaians could not afford to spend a minimum of GH¢3.6 on food daily, according to the survey conducted by the Ghana Statistical Service (GSS).

While the number of poor people in the country cut across the entire nation, it is noteworthy that majority of those affected are based in the Central Region and the Northern Savanna Ecological Zone (NSEZ), which comprises 64 metropolitan, municipal and district assemblies (MMDAs) in five administrative regions.

This explains why the establishment of the Savanna Accelerated Development Authority (SADA) in 2010 to act as an investment vehicle and development catalyst of the area is commendable.

Although the authority has suffered some operational weaknesses leading to the loss of millions in its initial years of operation, it is encouraging that SADA has put itself back on track and is now progressing steadily with its mandate.

Under a new management, the authority has for the past 16 months, dedicated its efforts at developing a medium-term development plan with which it hopes to transform the NSEZ from a state of deprivation to one of economic opportunities.

The SADA Master Plan, as it is christened, is a 25-year blueprint that puts strong emphasis on the development of agriculture, tourism, education and infrastructure.

The projects include the construction of a new Tamale central business district to fuel growth, the construction of an inland port and city at Buipe, the construction of an agriculture processing park at Kintampo, the development of a dry port, logistics centre and a free trade zone in Bolgatanga to help diversify the local economy.

The plan also envisages the development of a 30-hectare tourism cluster and the expansion of water transport in the Volta Region.

After months of planning with the various stakeholders in the zone, the GRAPHIC BUSINESS is happy to note that SADA is now moving closer to the key stage, the implementation of the projects captured in the plan.

The Chief Executive Officer of SADA, Mr Charles Abugre, recently said in Tamale that SADA was setting up a Development Coordination Office (DCO) that would comprise experts in financial engineering and investment promotion to serve as the nerve centre for the implementation of the Master Plan.

According to him, the office would also comprise lawyers, engineers and development economists, among other specialists, who would constitute the technical implementation team of the authority's medium-term development plan.

The GRAPHIC BUSINESS believes that given the right leadership, SADA can help achieve the mandate for which it was established, which is to turn the potentials and challenges in the NSEZ into irresistible opportunities to attract investment.

As a result, we call on all well-meaning Ghanaians to support the activities of the authority to help create the needed bridges that will bring about meaningful progress in the lives of those living there.

But while at it, it is also instructive for SADA to be mindful of its past and the impact it had on its image and the country as a whole.