Participants at a stakeholders’ consultation workshop on the establishment of the Western Corridor Development Authority (WCDA), have suggested that positive lessons should be learnt from the implementation of the Savannah Accelerated Development Authority(SADA), to make the establishment of WCDA a success.
They also proposed that stakeholders, especially Members of Parliament, traditional authorities, and the MMDAs, accepted and owned the proposed WCDA.
The workshop, jointly organized by the Central Regional Coordinating Council (RCC), and the Office of the President, was attended by MPs from the Central Region, traditional rulers, Metropolitan, Municipal and District Chief Executives, Heads of Departments and a number of stakeholders.
The proposed WCDA is geared towards broadening the economic bases of the western and central regions, strengthen the infrastructural capacities, develop creative industries, improve quality of life of people, as well as engage the various communities in their socio-economic development.
The participants were also of the view that funding for the authority should be locally based and not dependent on donor support, adding that all the necessary consultations and partnerships should be well executed before the authority was established to give it the needed mandate to operate freely.
Mr Akwasi Opong-Fosu, Minister of State at the Presidency, said initiatives such as SADA, the Western Corridor Development Authority and the Afram Plains Agric-Industrial Development Zone, were critical for the country's transformation agenda.
He said it was necessary to establish WCDA because both the western and central regions had been lagging behind in development, even though their geographical zone contributed significantly to the country’s GDP.
Mr Opong-Fosu said the two regions were also noted for their abundance in natural resources, marine and coastlines, tourism ,water bodies, forest products, food production , minerals and oil and gas, noting that “there is a paradox of being natural resource –rich but assess-poor .
He said considering the importance of the Authority to the two regions, the government was committed to empower WCDA through a legislation to facilitate an integrated spatial, social, economic and environmental policies and activities that would link the development of the western corridor to the country as a whole.
He explained that the Corridor would play a facilitating role to bring together public-private partnerships, traditional authorities, civil society organizations in a harmonized way, to mitigate any negative trends that might emerge out of the development process.
Mr Olu Sawyer, a Management Consultant and Technical Adviser at the Public Sector Reform Secretariat, pointed out that though the two regions were endowed with a lot of natural resources, they were unacceptably under developed, and urged them to take advantage of their comparative advantage areas, such as oil and gas, tourism, human resource base, and the longest coastline, to ensure the smooth implementation of the WCDA.
He said a policy document and draft bill on the WCDA had been formulated and was awaiting approval by Parliament, and that its funding would be incorporated in the 2016 budget for its possible start.
Mr Kwame Opong, the Chief Director, Central Regional Coordinating Council, in his welcoming address, expressed concern that the central region, the citadel of education, was endowed with natural resources, yet was painfully a shadow of itself.
He gave the assurance that the RCC would do everything to help establish the Authority which would be a great relief for all.
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