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The Volta River project in Ghana was a symbolic embodiment of progress, modernisation, and development. It offered the opportunity for newly independent Ghana to develop a complex and integrated industrial base using local resources and materials. While the initial concept was discussed as early as 1924, it was only in the 1950s that the feasibility report was written and work commenced.

The idea was to harness power generated from a hydroelectric dam to smelt bauxite into aluminium and to export it from the newly built port-town of Tema. For Kwame Nkrumah, Ghana's first post independence leader, it was a perfect blend of nationalist development and international trade. It was a means of throwing off the shame of an imperial past with an ambitious and prestigious infrastructure project.

The development was not only concerned with industry, Nkrumah was also adamant that housing provision was to be enhanced. The aluminium plant workers were to be housed in a purpose built new town at Kpong with an array of social amenities, parks, health and education facilities.

The problem, like with most idealistic visions, was funding the venture. Nkrumah had secured some, if limited, backing from the UK government, and was hoping for the UK-Canadian aluminium venture to provide the remainder.

Nkrumah's commitment to high quality housing for the smelter workers was admirable - but the business consortium didn't share this generous vision and was reluctant to fund even the most basic dwellings. The idea of providing extensive sports facilities and high quality infrastructure was an anathema. The negotiations eventually failed.

 
 

But the project was too important to Nkrumah and he persisted in seeking new partners, including Soviet support, which deeply concerned the UK and US. Eventually, US steel magnate and dam builder Henry J. Kaiser agreed to deliver the project. The deal involved moving the smelter closer to the new town of Tema, and using imported US bauxite. This destroyed Nkrumah's aspirations to use local raw materials.

Nevertheless, a new town called Akosombo was built to house the hydro-power station workers at the dam site. To this day it has a carefully controlled town plan and highly accountable local government to ensure that the main town is properly managed, complete with maintained markets, roads and facilities.

The hydro-electric dam is still rightly a source of immense national pride, and the prestige of the project is reflected in the township. It is like no other town in Ghana, and its manicured landscapes, housing and commitment to being a well run town renders it a highly attractive place to live among the beautiful hills and within close proximity to Accra.

 
 

But not everything worked out this well. A town called New Ajena was also developed to house communities that were forced to move because of the dam. This was a much less successful project.

Useful lessons can be learnt from both. In our recently published paper we assessed the development of the high profile project from the perspective of providing housing. Housing was indeed provided, but not uniformly. In addition, extensive social provision was seen as a luxury item and quickly cut from budgets by the early 1960s. As a result housing for the most vulnerable was only deemed possible if it included a "self-build" contribution by the residents themselves.

The failures

 

The dam resulted in the formation of one of the world's largest man-made lakes. 80,000 people living upstream were forced to flee their fertile farms and ancestral lands as the water level continued to rise and flooded their homes.

Nkrumah decreed that "no one would be made worse off" and a programme of replacement homes and villages commenced. But there was substantial delay.

The World Food Programme was forced to intervene. It didn't simply hand out supplies, but instead distributed food in exchange for labour. Residents were forced to "clear" 450,000 acres (182,109 hectares) to make way for the first 18 resettlement sites. 739 villages were eventually consolidated into 52 townships to benefit from economies of scale for services, school provision, road maintenance and market stalls.

 
 
New Ajena was one of the first resettlement villages to replace the former Ajena now submerged by the lake. Sites were selected based on being easily accessible, close to good farming areas, and ideally at high altitude with a good water supply. This did not leave many options and most new settlements, like New Ajena, were simply placed at the lake edge. The housing stock loosely tracks the road and is arranged in informal clusters.

The use of standard components and basic construction resulted in rapid production rates with over 200 houses built a week, and 11,000 units completed by 1964. The housing type was called a "core house" - effectively a single room and raised veranda. The idea was for the residents to gradually extend the houses as required, according to a prescribed plan and building standard.

As part of my research I spoke to some residents who have lived in the settlement since the early 1960s. They can remember the developments that have taken place. They can recall some larger families being forced to move from substantial multi-room structures to one simple room which resulted in overcrowded and unsanitary conditions.

Extensions and modifications to the core houses have been limited, although most have added an extra room and extended the front porch. Water is still obtained via a stand-pipe which serves as the local gathering place. There are shared latrines (which are generally unpopular) although many residents have constructed their own bathhouses.

Undelivered promises

The promise of material modernisation has still not been delivered. A small primary school was built along with the core houses and more recently a secondary school has been constructed by the residents. A shop provides basic supplies and most residents keep goats and chickens and grow fruit and vegetables. The settlement has been criticised for its unauthorised structures and land use, but without this cultivation, such a remote town could not have survived.

While the development has not quite adhered to the plan and early proposals inflicted hardship on many, it is now very much a thriving settlement. Basic social amenities are slowly being added as the village sees fit.

Formal planning and the precise placing of buildings, overly prescriptive building regulations and rule-making have yielded to a schematic set of principles that devolve far greater control to residents and they should be commended for their efforts.

Lessons learned

The Akosombo plan is a pristine example of top-down planning with a highly controlled environment. But it only managed to house a small and privileged portion of society. If this model can be funded and delivered to a large community it is certainly a valid and attractive option.

Where this is not possible, New Ajena offers another route, one that is more inclusive and reliant on the goodwill and hard work of the community, but one that shows how large populations can be rehoused quickly.

Of course, it need not be a case of one or the other, and the planned Akosombo model, with associated satellite self-built villages, could deliver a sustainable and affordable solution to housing in Ghana.

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Kumasi — Residents of Abuakwa and its environs in the Atwima Nwabiagya District of Ashanti, took to the streets to demonstrate against the delay in the execution of Sofoline interchange project and other road related matters in the district.

The demonstrators massed up in front of the Abuakwa police station, in the early hours of yesterday, amid chanting of war songs, impeding traffic flow as they blocked the main Kumasi-Sunyani highway.

They complained about the hardship drivers and passengers go through from Tanoso stretch to Abuakwa junction due to the heavy traffic jam as a result of the delay in the project.

The dual carriage ends at Tanoso Apatrapa, instead of it to be continued to Abuakwa junction.

The project that spans 11 kilometres of six-lane asphaltic concrete dual carriage, is being undertaken by China Geo Construction Limited, a Chinese firm.

It was started in August, 2007, and being funded by government, at initial estimated cost of GH¢73 million, with a constructional period of 36 months, but the delay has resulted in the contract sum being revised to about GH¢99.9 million.

 
 

The interchange, which forms part of the reconstruction of the Sunyani road through Kumasi, is about 92 per cent complete, and has partially been opened to traffic, thereby reducing congestion associated with that part of Kumasi, which connects to Obuasi, Sunyani and Kumasi city centre.

It has been divided into three parts-the section from Abuakwa to the Apatrapa Junction; the Apatrapa Junction to the Bekwai Roundabout and the Bekwai Roundabout to the Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital (KATH) Roundabout, where an underpass would be constructed.

Currently, most of the completed work is on the six-kilometre Apatrapa Junction-Bekwai Roundabout portion, where the Sofoline Interchange is located.

According to the spokesperson of the demonstrators, Nana Kwaku Appiah, government had refused to complete the project.

He said: "In the 2017 budget, nothing was said about the project, similarly, nothing was said about it in the 2018 and 2019 budgets. We believe it is deliberate on the part of the government to relegate the project to the background."

Nana Appiah said the demonstration would be continued until the project was completed.

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The Vice President, Dr Mahamudu Bawumia has performed a groundbreaking ceremony for the construction of a new Ghana Army Headquarters Complex at Burma Camp.

The ultra-modern office complex will serve as the main administrative block to accommodate the entire staff of the Ghana Armed Forces, upon completion.

Dr Bawumia also commissioned the new Army Headquarters Annex, which contains 37 offices, three conference rooms and an Armoury and a kitchen, at the Burma Camp, as part of activities marking the 2019 Army Week celebration.

The new edifice is called "Odartey-Wellington Block", in honour of the late Major General Neville Alexander Odartey-Wellington, who was the Army Commander from 1978 to 1979.

Vice President Bawumia, while addressing the men and women of the Ghana Armed Forces after a colourful parade at the 48 Engineers Regiment, Teshie, applauded the army for its professional attitude and being resolute in defending the nation against internal and external aggression.

He pledged government’s resolve to continue supporting the Military and other security agencies, in order to discharge their duties efficiently.

“It is clear that given the needed resources, our Army is ready to give off their best, holding nothing back, to make our country and themselves proud.

"I wish to assure you that the Government would continue to work closely with the Military High Command to ensure that your logistics and operational needs including equipment, clothing and accommodation are adequately met on time for both your internal and external operations," the Vice President assured.

Dr Bawumia called for greater collaboration between the Military and other security agencies, noting that, the joint operations between the security agencies over the years, had yielded positive results, ensuring sanity in most troubled spots in the country.

He urged them to continue working closely with their civilian counterparts towards ensuring safety and security of the citizenry.

While commenting on the threat of terrorism in some neighbouring countries, Vice President Bawumia called for increased vigilance and assured of government's commitment to resource the Military to effectively deal with such threats.

"It is important that the security agencies “redouble your intelligence gathering efforts and sharpen our readiness in order not to be taken by surprise.

“The Government on its part will do all within its means to ensure that you get the necessary training and logistics to carry out your counter terrorism operations,” he assured.

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The first plastic brick factory is set to be constructed in Cote d’Ivoire to convert plastic waste into bricks for school construction, a UN spokesman said Monday. The development comes after the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) entered into innovative partnership with Colombian social enterprise Conceptos Plasticos to build the factory.

“This factory will be at the cutting edge of smart, scalable solutions for some of the major education challenges that Africa’s children and communities face,” said UNICEF Executive Director Henrietta Fore.

Plastic brick factory

The bricks will be made from 100% plastic and are fire resistant. They are 40% cheaper, 20% lighter and will last hundreds of years longer than conventional building materials. They are also waterproof, well insulated and designed to resist heavy wind.

The durable, low-cost bricks will be used to build much needed classrooms in the West African country. Once it is fully operational, the factory will recycle 9,600 tons of plastic waste a year, according UNICEF said. Nine classrooms have been built in Gonzagueville, Divo and Toumodi using the easy-to-assemble plastic bricks made in Colombia, demonstrating the viability of the construction methods and materials.

“Cote d’Ivoire needs 15,000 classrooms to meet the needs of children without a place to learn, said Farhan Haq, deputy spokesman for UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres. With this innovative partnership, 500 classrooms for more than 25,000 children will be built in the coming two years,” said Henrietta Fore.

UN General Assembly President, Maria Fernanda Espinosa Garces commended the project and said that through their support and action, the Nairobi UN headquarters is now single-use plastic free, joining the UN headquarters in New York in the campaign. Construction of the factory is expected to be completed by the end of the year.

Alongside investment to build in Côte d’Ivoire, plans are also under way to scale this project to other countries in the region, and potentially beyond. West and central Africa accounts for one-third of the world’s primary school age children and one-fifth of lower secondary age children who are out of school.

 
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The government of Ghana has announced plans to construct a new modern large airport in the Western Region to receive larger planes and serve the oil and gas community. Minister for Aviation, Mr Joseph Kofi Adda revealed the plans and said the ministry is seeking about 3,000 acres of land for the development.

Mr. Kofi Adda explained that the airport project follows the influx of businesses, ostensibly from the discovery of oil and gas in the region, making the Air Force Base relatively small to contain the volume of air traffic from bigger aircraft.

“The Air Force Base which was built in the 1940s to carry soldiers to Accra and beyond had undergone several rehabilitation, but the size still cannot receive larger planes. The region is so rich in all the natural resources and therefore needs an airport that would fit the status of the region,” said Mr. Kofi Adda.

New modern airport

The modern airport, when completed would have a longer runway, tower, radar and other accessories to fit the Oil City, in addition to the putting up of hotels, schools, shopping malls and an Airport City similar to the Airport City in Accra.

The minister stated that the project would an investment of about US $100m and added that about five Memoranda of Understandings (MoUs) have been signed with corporate bodies who were well prepared to do business at the yet to be constructed airport.

“We are waiting for the Ministry of Finance to give us the go ahead with the sod -cutting for work to begin before the end of this year. Tamale and Kumasi Airports are also being expanded to receive larger planes and this would bring more businesses and jobs to the areas.

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Construction a multi-purpose Sports and Educational Excellence Centre in Ghana is set to commence soon. The project, being developed by a Sunyani based Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO), is set to improve social and educational welfare of Sunyani West and its adjoining communities.

FORSPORTS Foundation has acquired 105 acres of land at Odumasi, the Sunyani West district capital for the construction of the centre. The chief executive officer (CEO) and founder of Forsports Foundation, Mr. Christopher Forsythe confirmed the reports after a team from German Corporation for International Cooperation GmbH (GIZ) visited the foundation in Sunyani to explore the possibilities of assisting the foundation to realize the dream of building the centre.

The Multi-purpose centre

Mr Forsythe also added that the project is a long term plan to address the country’s sports problems. “Plans are well advanced to partner with  Ghana Education Service for training support to physical education instructors all over Ghana on the SDGs where they will implement and delivery sports in Ghana,” he added.

According to the project manager, Mr Kwame Anin Frimpong, the million dollar educational and recreational facility will be one of its kind in the country when completed. Mr Kwame led the team to the site and showed them all the documentations and the geographical features of the land. He said the Foundation has legal hold of the land currently and what is left is funding support for the realisation of the project. He appealed to both governmental and non-governmental institutions and individuals to support the delivery of the centre.

The organization will use sports to enhance development. The completion of the project will go a long way to promote fitness and sporting activities among the youth in the district.The project will also help the youth to discover and develop their talents.

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The government of Ghana has inaugurated the Tema Community 3 Junction road. Minister for Roads and Highways, Mr. Kwesi Amoako-Atta said that the road is aimed to ease vehicular traffic flow in the Harbour area. He also hinted that the project would not be the end of the road expansion around the Port.

“This became necessary owing to the expansion of the Tema Port which increased traffic flow in the enclave. We will continue into a six-lane dual-carriage road to link the new Harbour through the Tema Hospital Road to the 3-tier Motorway expansion project,,” said the Minister.

Community 3 Junction Road

Construction of the road began in January and was executed by Meridian Port Services Ltd (MPS). The project created a new access at-grade railway cross to the New Port. It is set to be further expanded to the Nungua Barrier, through the Beach road to the Black Star Square in Accra.

Expansion works include a new roundabout and four new slip roads within each quadrant of the roundabout to reduce the number of vehicles approaching the roundabout, and the upgraded access and egress lanes to the north, east and westerly approaches.

Speaking at the inauguration ceremony, the Deputy Minister of Transport, Mr. Daniel Titus-Glover, said the vision of the President was to improve upon the roads in the nation to facility movements of goods and services as a means of promoting economic advancement.

“The upgrade of this road, like our previous CSI projects, demonstrates our shareholders’ dedication to human life, and commitment to providing solutions that make the greatest difference in our communities,” said Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of MPS, Mr. Mohamed Samara,.

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The Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD) has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with China Development Fund and Genertec International Corporation for the development of a cocoa processing factory. The project earmarked to start in early 2020, is estimated to cost of US $100m to increase the country’s total capacity of cocoa production.

The factory will be located in Sefwi Wiawso, 398 km north-west of the capital, one of Ghana’s major cocoa producing areas.

The cocoa processing factory

According to Chief Executive of COCOBOD, Joseph Boahen Aidoo, the policy objective of the Ghanaian government to ensure that not less than 50% of cocoa beans were added value locally. “Ghana is hoping to expand its cocoa production from 850,000 metric tons to 1.5 million in the medium term. The government’s objective is to ensure that waste from cocoa beans that accounted for 20% of the total volume was converted into organic substance for domestic use,” he added.

Mr Aidoo also added that the project will be a sino-Africa model, the first of its kind in the African region, hence, the need to welcome the collaboration for sustained mutual benefits. In addition to that Mr Zhou Qingyu, the Vice President of China Development Fund welcomed the collaboration and said both countries have enjoyed long-lasting relations, and he is hoping to continue with the friendship for the benefit of all especially the cocoa farmers. Ghana is the second larger producer of cocoa beans in the world. It is believed to be the number one producer of premium cocoa globally.

When completed, the factory will process 40,000 metric tonnes of cocoa beans every year for export, mainly to the Chinese market. The new plant will further support the vision of the current government to transform Ghana into an industrialized nation.

 
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Construction of US $726,612 three-storey multi-purpose building in Accra, Ghana has begun after the Bethel Society of the Methodist Church at Adenta broke ground for the commencement of work.

Construction works on the ultra-modern facility are set to be completed within 5 years. Once complete the facility will have over 1,000 seats for both the children and adult churches, plus a terrace.

The multi-purpose building

In addition, the building will also have a prayer room, meeting rooms, a three-storey conference office, circuit office and disability-friendly features. Some of the other features include parking space, a clinic, an event center, football field, event center, and devotional chapels. Speaking after cutting the sod, Right Reverend Professor Joseph Yarquah Edusa-Eyison, Bishop of the Northern Accra Diocese said the project comes at the right time after the growing number of members. He added that the chapel will be a constant reminder to Christians about God as it represents his presence amongst his people.

Rev Edusa-Eyison challenged members to support the project and intensify evangelism to fill the new building. On the other side, Resident Minister Reverend Helena Ama Serwaa Opoku-Sarkodie said that the building was to show appreciation to God for his glory for the past 28 years.

She encouraged members to invest in the project saying “Let us rise up and build, we should support this project wholeheartedly because our labor will never be in vain. In support of the church and the entire community, Reve Opoku-Sarkodie said the church has also begun construction of a community library that will be completed soon and will help spread the reading culture across the community.

He added that the two projects not only support development in the area but also the creation of job opportunities through construction and tenders.

 
 
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The government of Ghana has signed a US $23m loan agreement with the Kuwait Fund for Arab Economic Development to finance the rehabilitation of Dome-Kitase road project.

The Loan Agreement was signed on behalf of the Government of Ghana by the Minister of Finance, Ken Ofori-Atta, while the Deputy Director-General of the Fund, Nedhal Alolayan, signed on behalf of the Kuwait Fund for Arab Economic Development.

Dome-Kitase road

The 19.1km road connects the Accra-Kumasi road (N6)| to Accra-Aburi-Koforidua road (N4) and provides an alternate route to road users thereby reducing traffic jam on the two national roads.

The project is in line with the Government’s agenda for the supply of road infrastructure and development of vital road sections across the country to accelerate the socio-economic development.

Upon completion, it will improve connectivity and accessibility to places of work and social services for the inhabitants of the various towns and settlements located along the road path and will reduce the travel time and the vehicle operation cost.

“The road will particularly boost economic activities, movement of primarily agriculture turn out and high productivity and folks to markets, and facilitate trade. It will cut back period of time and congestion on the Accra-Aburi Road; vehicle operation prices and increase in accessibility, convenience furthermore as safety of commuters,” Mr Ofori-Atta.

The loan will be for a period of 28 years, including a grace period of 4 years, and paid in 40 semi-annual installments. The loan bears an interest rate of 1% per annum, in addition to a rate of 0.5% per annum to meet administrative costs and other expenses incurred in the implementation of the agreement.

 

 

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Construction works on the Nhyinahin Multi-purpose Youth and Sports Resource Centre in Ghana nears completion. Mr. Isaac Kwame Asiamah, Minister for Youth and Sports confirmed the report and said that the centre is receiving finishing touches.

“I am very happy with the pace of work and I must commend the contractor for his high sense of creativity, innovation and enterprise in making good use of the vast land available,” said Mr. Isaac.

So far, the Youth and Sports Minister, and Emmanuel Asigiri, CEO, National Youth Authority (NYA) have succeeded in breaking grounds at  Kaneshie, Azumah Nelson Complex (Greater Accra), Ho (Volta), Koforidua (Eastern), Axim (Western), and Dunkwa-On-Offin (Central).

Apart from the Volta Region facility which has a ten thousand sitting capacity, the rest are five thousand FIFA standard capacity each. The US $1.8m each facilities are expected to be completed nine months after the respective sod cuttings.

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