The Government has created about 15,000 short-term jobs for artisans in Northern Ghana under the Infrastructure for Poverty Eradication Programme (IPEP).
Under the IPEP, the Northern Development Authority (NDA), the implementing agency, has initiated more than 2,000 projects which have created the short-term jobs for the artisans.
IPEP is a new development-bottom-up approach initiated by President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo in 2017 with the aim of making available to deprived communities, basic socio-economic infrastructure to reduce poverty and minimise all forms of inequalities.
The Chief Executive Officer of the (NDA), Dr Alhassan Sulemana Anamzoya, made this known during the opening of the 2020 Northern Ghana Development Summit in Bolgatanga last Thursday. The Summit was on the theme: “Transforming the economy of Northern Ghana within the context of the 2020 general election and the COVID-19 pandemic.”
Dr Anamzoya further explained that in pursuit of the one million dollar per constituency policy, the Ministry of Finance had allocated GH¢266.760 million to the NDA for development purposes.
“As we speak now contractors are busily constructing roads, hospitals, school blocks, market centres, Community-based Health Planning and Services (CHPS) compounds, boreholes, snakebite centres, bridges, community centres and supplying school furniture across the Northern enclave,” he stated.
Dr Anamzoya noted that the NDA major development projects facilitated in the Upper East Region included the Pwalugu multipurpose dam.
He explained that as of June 2020, community sensitisation and assessment of existing access roads to the project site were being undertaken by a joint team from the Volta River Authority, the Northern Electricity Distribution Company (NEDCo) and NDA.
He observed that the partnership between the Ghana Water Company Limited and the NDA saw the authority cede two hectares of its land at the Kaladan Park in Tamale to facilitate the swift implementation of this all-important water supply project.
“In August, the President, during his visit to the Northern Region, again cut the sod for the commencement of work on the Tamale water supply project touted as the biggest water project in the five regions of the north and the second biggest in the history of Ghana,” the CEO said.
The CEO appealed to people from the North, both to come home with their respective talents, skills and resources to help develop Northern Ghana.
“I also urge my fellow Northern Ghanaians at home to be prudent in handling and to be modest in spending resources that are sent to us by our siblings outside the country, either to help them put up their houses or create business opportunities," Dr Anamzoya advised.
The Upper East Regional Minister, Ms Tangoba Abayage, stated that studies showed that the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic would be felt more in northern Ghana because Ghana's Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth rate was estimated to reduce from 6.8 per cent to 1.5 per cent, while non-oil revenue had been pegged to fall by GH¢2 billion.
“Stakeholders in Northern Ghana should be positioned well to influence the political parties to weave our peculiarities into their respective agenda for realising a Ghana Beyond Aid agenda,” Ms Abayage noted.
Northern Development Plan
The Chancellor of the University of Ghana, Legon, Mrs Mary Chinery-Hesse, who spoke via Zoom, called on indigenes of the five regions of the north to work together to develop a comprehensive Northern Development Plan. This would ensure sustainability and continuation of development projects even when there was a change in government, she said.
She urged people from the North to buy into and own the plan such that regardless of the government in power; duty bearers would be compelled to stick to the plan.
Mrs Chinery-Hesse was of the view that it was high time indigenes of the north moved from “talk shops into action".
She observed that if the indigenes of the north were able to accept that responsibility of making duty bearers stick to the plan or agreement, a lot would change in the near future.
According to her, there would be a paradigm shift in development such that instead of people travelling from the north to the south for greener pastures, it would now be the other way round.
Mrs Chinery-Hesse, who is the first female Chancellor of the University of Ghana, spoke on the topic: “Narrowing the North-South inequalities: what needs to be done?"
The Chancellor mentioned the sheanut industry, data on rich resources in the north, value addition to raw materials, generation of hydro power, water harvesting to give the north an advantage in farming, as some of the things that can act as the magic wand in accelerating the development of northern Ghana.
She indicated that traditional rulers also had a crucial role to play by creating a congenial atmosphere for private investors to come in.
“There must also be a codification chieftaincy succession plan to help minimise conflicts which have been the bane of the development of the north,” the Chancellor stressed.
She also spoke about the need for trade to be boosted between Ghana and the Sahelian regions, with the north playing a key role due to its strategic location to the Sahelian regions.
Mrs Chinery-Hesse stated that with an estimated 350 million people living in the Sahelian region, Ghana could not afford to miss out but tap into those opportunities to enrich the country through international trade.
A Council of State Member, Bo-Na Prof Yakubu Nantogmah, spoke on the theme for the summit and called on Northerners to help bring to a halt the situation whereby projects were abandoned when there was a change in government.
Bo-Na Nantogmah said Northerners could do that if they prevailed on political parties to agree to a common plan of continuation of projects in a systematic manner, whether it was one political party that was in power or not.
He said the challenges of the north started from the colonial era and that the educational system handed down to the country did not provide the Ghanaian and indeed the Northerner the opportunity to critically analyse issues.
“The old system of education made us to memorise tasks and never allowed us into the area of critical analysis,” the Council of State Member further observed.
He equally admitted that the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic had also exacerbated the existing challenges of the north.
The summit was aimed at promoting dialogue among stakeholders on the important issue of Election 2020 and political parties’ manifestos in the context of COVID-19 and its impact on northern Ghana, how the issue of inequality persisted amid COVID-19 in northern Ghana and how it can be addressed.
It was also aimed at agreeing on specific actions required to prevent, mitigate and resolve violent conflicts to sustain peace in an election year in northern Ghana.
It attracted academia, ministers of state, traditional rulers, queen mothers, development experts, metropolitan, municipal and district chief executives from the five regions of the north.
The summit was organised by the STAR Ghana Foundation, the NDA, TAMA Foundation Universal and the Northern Development Forum, among other partners.