Feature Article of Tuesday, 15 January 2013
Columnist: Kufuor, Appiah-Danquah
Empowering the Grass Roots
For the past four years the Volta Region has embarked on an ambitious bottom up developmental path which has borne enormous fruits for the people of the region. In July 2009, His Excellency John Dramani Mahama, launched an ambitious 5 year $250 million Volta Region Economic Development Plan (VORDEP) for the economic regeneration of the Region. To implement the programmes and aspirations contained in the Economic Plan a regional body, Volta Region Development Agency(VORDA) was set up to act as the vehicle for pushing forward this noble agenda.
This novel experiment in grassroots, partnership and collaborative working was the brain child of the Volta Region House of Chiefs led by its inspirational President, Togbe Afede X1V and its dynamic Vice-President Nana Soglo Alloh 1V. They are supported by able, hardworking, determined members of the House of Chiefs.
Indeed, the Volta Caucus in Parliament, Ordinary Voltarians, Businesspersons, Volta Foundation under the leadership of Raymond Okudzeto, some prominent Voltarians, have all played significant roles in helping the Volta Region Development Agency achieved some of its aims and goals.
The Economic Plan did set out a vision for the future of Volta Region and was inspired by the belief that the development of our nation and region is a shared responsibility and that traditional authorities, who are closest to the people, have an important developmental role to play. The Economic Plan has evolved and been shaped by prevailing socio-economic factors on the ground. However, its cardinal principle of mobilizing the chiefs and people of the Volta Region for a collective assault on poverty and deprivation remains unchanged.
What Has Been Achieved?
Voltarians and ordinary Ghanaians have the right to ask what has Volta Region Development Agency (VORDA) achieved? Has the Region seen any marked improvements in its economic fortunes? Are the poverty indices on a downward trend? As an ordinary person whose DNA and every fibre of my soul is dedicated to serving the needs and interests of the voiceless, powerless and poorer member members of our society I feel and believe that the public has the right to query, pry and demand answers from those of us fortunate to be in positions of leadership..
Could Have Done Better
It is quite evident that the majority of people in the Volta Region still wallow in poverty and youth unemployment rates are still unacceptably high. The Region has not seen any increase in manufacturing activities neither has there been any compensatory increase in the service sector. For example, the Juapong Textile Factory once the pride and joy of the Region has not been revamped, the Volta River remains a source of untapped wealth and river transportation remains non-existent.
The Volta Region Development Agency and other stakeholders could have done better in its focus and targeting of inward investment. We owe it our people to try harder, to intensify our efforts in attracting investment. To work aggressively to include women in our decision making process and seek development partners to help transform our agrarian economy where almost 70% of the population eke out a living.
However, it was not all doom and gloom. The building blocks for a successful economic take off are all in place and that is where I believe there is MORKPORKOR at last.
. Building Blocks.
Since VORDA’s formation, it has collaborated with the Volta Region Co-ordinating Council (VRCC), top businesspersons in the region, MP’s, and other stakeholders in the Region in championing the economic development of the Volta Region. For example, a Board member was represented on the committee that championed the development of the University of Allied and Health Sciences (UHAS) indeed another Board member of VORDA is represented on the University Council.
In September 2011, VORDA headed by its Board Chairman, Togbe Afede X1V in partnership with the Volta Region Co-ordinating Council represented by the Regional Minister took a delegation of Chiefs, Businesspersons, and Government officials to China to form a Sister- Region relationship with the Autonomous Republic of Ningxia Hui (the first of its kind between a Chinese Province and a Region in the sub-continent).
Following on from this historic visit a high powered delegation from Ningxia visited the Volta Region to formalise the relationship by the signing of a formal agreement. Since January 2012, the region has played hosts to many important guests and investors from the Ningxia Province which has led to mutual benefits for both regions.
Investors from Ningxia have partnered local entrepreneurs to engage in joint strategic projects in the oil, agricultural, petrochemical, agriculture and fishing industries. In September, 2012 a high powered delegation from the Volta Region comprising of representatives from the VRCC, University of Allied and Health Services, Director of Health, Vice President of the Volta Region House of Chiefs, ,and top entrepreneurs from the Volta Region attended the China- Arab Investment seminar in Yinchuan.
The aim was to seek partners and engage in discussions with our Arab and Chinese counterparts in the area of education, health, agriculture, aqua-culture, petro-chemical traditional medicine. VORDA’s continuing efforts in seeking to work with developmental partners have led to collaborative and partnership projects worth around $250million earmarked for implementation.
Projects in the Pipeline;
• Establishment of a state of the art factory for rearing of rabbits for export and domestic consumption;
• Revamping and expansion of the Aveyime Cattle Ranch;
• Huge injection of capital into the Afife Rice Farm,
• Resumption of a dedicated River Transportation system for the Volta Lake;
• Investment in the Petrochemical Industry by Baota Petrochemical Industries ;
• Exchange of students, researchers and lecturers between Ningxia Medical School and UHAS;
• Injection of new ideas and know- how between Ningxia Health Authorities and Nuamesi Traditional Medical facility at Hohoe;
• Prospective siting of the first Mobile Tomato and Fruit Processing Factory in Ziope;
• Building and reclamation of huge tracts of land at Krachi;
• Working with a private company to build a brand new DVLA centre at Ho.
Volta Region Development Agency in collaboration with its partners and other key stakeholders will continue to play its part in the economic regeneration of the region. The Agency will strive hard to build lasting cohesive partnerships, alliances which help create prosperity, meaningful jobs and economic well-being for those living and working in the region.
For me, I have lived the Ghanaian dream in the Volta Region. I was accepted and continue to be an adopted son of the region; I have been able to contribute my widow’s mite to the economic development of my country. I sincerely hope that others will have the opportunity to live the “Kwame Nkrumah Ghanaian dream”. (a country where one is not judged by his town of birth, his affiliation to any political, ethnic, or religious grouping, his dialect, colour or family background but by his ability to deliver and serve with humility.
I am extremely grateful to all Voltarians, in particular Togbe Afede X1V, Agbogomefia of the Asogli State, the Board of Volta Region Development Agency, all members of the Volta Region House of Chiefs, the Volta Region Co-ordinating Council, for offering me the opportunity to serve.
My prayers is that one day a Tsikata, Adadevoh, Mawuli, Acolatse, Kpordzie, Dela may be given the opportunity to act as the CEO for the Otumfuo Educational Fund
Plea to Voltarians
.In concluding, my only plea to all prominent Voltarians is simple: Shed your AapathyApathy, Be Bold and Courageous. GET ON BOARD the Volta Development Train, Fold away and dump in the bin the “Accra Centric Clothes”. For the sake of your beautiful Region and the future of all young Voltarians start wearing your beautiful “Sogakope Kente”.
No Region in the World has developed without the active involvement of the indigene. Help to leave a legacy of “MORKPORKOR” to the next generation of Voltarians.
Appiah-Danquah Kufuor: is a Board Member of Volta Region Development Agency.