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General News of Monday, 23 April 2018

Source: citinewsroom.com

Prioritise Western Region to boost national development – Minister

The Western Region must be given priority treatment if Ghana is to experience an economic turnaround, the Western Regional Minister, Dr Kweku Afriyie, has said.

According to him, the area is key to Ghana’s development since most of the natural resources Ghana depends on can be found in the region.

Despite the region’s massive reserve of natural resources, it still has relatively weak infrastructure like roads. Speaking after members of the Public Accounts Committee (PIAC) paid a courtesy call on him in Takoradi, Dr Afriyie insisted that the development of the region is tied to the progress of the country.

“To not develop Western Region is not to develop Ghana because, I believe if Ghana wants to develop and it comes to the actualisation of all the plans, especially in the economic sphere… we believe we must start from the Western Region because we have the economic potential.”

“When you take all the activities that bring income to Ghana as we speak now [oil, cocoa, gold, timber, manganese]… I dare say this region has got so much to contribute,” the Minister argued.

Dr Afriyie maintained that if “left to its own devices” the Western Region would have been “far richer than any region in the country.”

Ultimately, he added that the benefits of prioritising his region would be shared with the entire country.

“If infrastructure wise, the Western Region is given pride of place and developed ahead of other regions, we could unleash our potential and the accrual that will come from it; Ghana’s GDP will in a very short time increase. When the spoils of war come, we can do the advocacy that we should share it equally, and there shouldn’t be any problems with that, and there shouldn’t be any problems with that as a unitary state.”

The Western Region, which has a population of about 2.4 million, is the highest producer of cocoa in the country contributing to over 50 percent of the total national production.

It is also the highest producer of timber and the second highest producer of gold after Ashanti Region.

Beyond this, it is the sole producer of rubber, bauxite, and manganese and is also the major crude oil producing region.

Tourism is also another avenue with economic potential in the region with the Bia National Park and Reserve, Egambra Crocodile Sanctuary, WassaDomama Rock Shrine, Nzulezu Settlement and Boako Waterfalls.

Currently, there are considerations to carve out a Western North Region from the existing region.

In December 207, the nine-member Commission of Enquiry led by retired Justice of the Supreme Court, Stephen Brobbey, completed a consultative exercise in the Western Region to solicit views from stakeholders, after paramount chiefs in the region sent proposals to the president to have the Western Region split.