Ghana: A Presentation By the Brong Ahafo Regional Minister, Hon. Kwadwo Nyamekye-Marfo On the State of the Region On the Occasion of the Regional Policy Fair

press release

MR. CHAIRMAN,

YOUR EXCELLENCIES, MEMBERS OF THE COUNCIL OF STATE,

COLLEAGUE MINISTERS OF STATE,

HON. MEMBERS OF PARLIAMENT,

HON. MUNICIPAL/DISTRICT CHIEF EXECUTIVES,

REGIONAL CHAIRMAN AND EXECUTIVES OF THE NDC,

RECTOR, SUNYANI POLYTECHNIC,

NANANOM,

HEADS OF DEPARTMENT,

REPRESENTATIVES OF RELIGIOUS BODIES,

REPRESENTATIVES OF POLITICAL PARTIES,

CIVIL SOCIETY ORGANIZATIONS,

REPRESENTATIVES OF BASU AND SRCs,

SONS AND DAUGHTERS OF THE REGION,

MEMBERS OF THE MEDIA,

DISTINGUISHED INVITED GUESTS AND MEMBERS OF THE PUBLIC,

LADIES AND GENTLEMEN:

Thank you for the opportunity to share with you the experience of the Brong Ahafo Region, towards achieving the "Better Ghana" Agenda, since the NDC Government, led by His Excellency, Prof. John Evans Atta Mills, the President of the Republic of Ghana, assumed office in the management of the country in 2009. On behalf of the Chiefs and people of the region, the Regional Co-ordinating Council, the Municipal and District Chief Executives, the Sector heads and on my own behalf, I wish to welcome all distinguished personalities to this important session, which in my opinion, marks the highpoint of the Policy Fair, under the theme: "Building Together in a Better Ghana"

MR. CHAIRMAN, DISTINGUISHED LADIES AND GENTLEMEN:

My candid observation is that, the numerous development projects and activities undertaken nationwide have not been given adequate publicity.

It must be noted that nobody else will tell our story for us! It is, therefore, incumbent on us to tell our own success story to the good people of this promising region in particular, and the nation at large.

Furthermore, this platform affords us the opportunity to make good our social contract with the people in pursuit of transparency and openness as generally espoused by the NDC as a Social Democratic Party.

MR. CHAIRMAN, DISTINGUISHED LADIES AND GENTLEMEN:

To enable me discharge my responsibility more functionally and purposefully, I have with me Hon. Municipal and District Chief Executives and Sector heads in the region, to lend me their support in responding to issues that may be raised pertaining to their various sectors and Assemblies.

Indeed, very visible and measurable results have been achieved over the last 3 years in all sectors across the spectrum in Security, Agriculture, Education, Health Care Delivery, the Road network, Electricity Supply, Communication network, Water Supply and Sanitation, ICT, Youth Employment Programmes, School Feeding Programme, Vocational Skills Development Programme, Investments and the construction of other infrastructure, among others.

The execution of the numerous Projects and Programmes in all parts of the Region emanated from the 4 thematic areas of the NDC Manifesto, namely:

- Transparent and Accountable Governance;

- Strong Economy for Real Jobs;

- Investing in People; and,

- Expanding Infrastructure for Growth

I am optimistic that at the end of this presentation, we all would deepen our understanding and appreciation of the giant strides being made by the NDC government to improve the quality of life of our people.

SECTOR DEVELOPMENT

1.0 SECURITY

LADIES AND GENTLEMEN:

Security, in my view, is one of the most essential development indicators. Our region is reputed to be one of the most peaceful in the country. We need to be proud of ourselves and sustain this enviable perception of the region.

Notwithstanding, the region witnessed a few incidence of unpleasant security concerns at certain flashpoints, but thankfully, the Regional Security Council (REGSEC), in collaboration with the various Municipal and District Security Councils, was able to bring these security threats under control.

Similarly, protracted Chieftaincy and land disputes are major challenges that have dogged the development aspiration of the region. Currently, the most threatening of these cases include, Brosankro, Konkonsi and Wenchi Chieftaincy and land disputes.

1.1 Other Security Issues

I am glad, however, to announce that the menace of Fulani herdsmen has subsided significantly with the exception of Berekum Municipality where the destructive activities of Fulani herdsmen on farmlands have been reported. REGSEC is monitoring the situation closely and hopes to bring sanity to the area.

Illegal Mining is currently taking place, particularly in the Asutifi and Tano districts. The cost of damage these miners are visiting on the environment and the river bodies is incalculable and every effort needs to be made to forestall their operations. The Police has arrested eighteen (18) suspects who are being prosecuted.

2.0 EDUCATION

2.1 ESTABLISMENT OF A PUBLIC UNIVERSITY IN THE REGION

LADIES AND GENTLEMEN:

In carrying through its promise to establish a Public University in the Brong Ahafo Region, the government has initiated far-reaching measures towards the establishment of the University of Energy and Natural Resources. I am happy to announce that one (1) existing KNUST structure of the Forestry Institute at Sunyani has been rehabilitated as a start up to serve as the Administration block of the University.

Four (4) new structures have been completed by the government, whilst the Brong Ahafo Regional Coordinating Council has ceded four structures to the University. These, together with the four (4) constructed by the government, are to serve as office and residential accommodation. An Acting Vice Chancellor, Registrar, Development Officer and other core management staff of the University have been appointed. A University Council is in place whilst other supporting staff are going through the process of recruitment. It is expected that the admission of the first batch of students for the 2012/2013 academic year would take place as planned.

2.2 Schools Under Trees (Basic) And Emergency Intervention Projects (SHS) 2010/2011

LADIES AND GENTLEMEN:

As part of efforts to eliminate basic schools under trees in the Brong Ahafo Region, the Government initiated the Schools Under Trees Project. I am proud to announce that the region has benefitted from a total of 158 schools from this project at a cost of GHC 22,944,097.49. Out of the 158 projects, 64 have been completed and are in use.

We need to applaud the government for this show of magnanimity to the region.

This government believes that the development of every country is greatly dependent on the human resource base of the country. Consequently, the education and health sectors have been tackled head-on by the NDC administration and our districts have had their fair share of the national cake as far as these two sectors are concerned. LADIES AND GENTLEMEN:

Under the leadership of His Excellency, Professor John Evans Atta Mills, the government of the NDC has undertaken massive infrastructural development in the educational sector since 2009. In the Brong Ahafo Region alone, it is gratifying to note that a total of 596 educational projects, at the cost of GH¢72,003,681.97, have been initiated, including those undertaken by the 22 Municipal/District Assemblies.

They include projects to provide Dormitories, Libraries, Classrooms, Dining Halls, Administration Blocks, Staff Quarters and Science/ICT Centres, Furniture, among others, for Senior High Schools and at the Basic level.

In addition to this, the government has also provided 2,603,078 Free Exercise Books to some Basic Schools in the Region, 125,501 Free School Uniforms to children in deprived areas, and has also paid a total of GH¢8,400,426.84 as Capitation Grant to Basic Schools in the Region.

MR. CHAIRMAN, DISTINGUISHED LADIES AND GENTLEMEN:

In line with government's commitment to the improvement of ICT literacy in the country and particularly in the region, a total of 150 laptops have already been supplied to 10 rural schools in the region. Additionally, plans are far advanced towards the supply of additional 5400 computers and accessories to 225 schools by the end of this year.

LADIES AND GENTLEMEN:

Our Region did not fare badly in the last examination. Whilst the national average stood at 59.45% the regional average was 64.05%. On a year to year comparison the average inched up by 2.59%. Whilst 2010 recorded achievement rate of 61.46% that of 2011 was 64.05%.

The R.C.C. is not, in the least, satisfied with this performance and would continue to liaise with the Regional Education Directorate to embark on measures that would enhance performance in the educational sector.

3.0 HEALTH

LADIES AND GENTLEMEN:

The Regional Health Directorate achieved the following, among several indicators:

- Zero reported incidence of Guinea Worm and Polio

- HIV/AIDS prevalence dropped from 3.3 to 2.0% (ANC)

- Incidence of Malaria as the cause of OPD attendance dropped from 47.8% to 33.3%.

- Out-Patient Per Capita increased from 1.0 to 1.34, implying that every person had the chance to visit a health facility.

3.1 Construction Of Hospital At Tain

It is also important to add that the construction of the Tain District Hospital under the No. 8 Hospital Project, which was launched by His Excellency, the Vice President, John Dramani Mahama, has commenced and is earnestly in progress. 3.2 National Health Insurance Scheme

LADIES AND GENTLEMEN:

The construction of the Regional Health Insurance Office at the cost of GH¢650,000.00 is about 96% complete. The Scheme has increased its client coverage from a total of 1,460,655 (2009) to 2,175,270 (Dec., 2011), a percentage increase of 48.93, representing 95.32% of the Regional population of 2,282,128 (provisional 2010 PHC). It is equally refreshing to reveal that the government has paid a total of GH¢153,721,217.06 to the region to service claims by Service Providers up to March, 2012.

4.0 AGRICULTURE

LADIES AND GENTLEMEN:

Agriculture has received a significant boost since 2009 and our farmers' lot has improved as a result. As one of the leading producers of major staples in the country, the region continued to maintain its position as the food basket of the country. However, since the past 5 months, the region has been experiencing erratic rainfall pattern, which is adversely affecting farmers, particularly in the planting of maize, among other crops.

If this trend continues, it is likely to affect food production in the region this year. It is, therefore, important for our farmers to be given the necessary information by the Department of Agriculture about this situation.

Over the 3- year period, 9 agricultural mechanization centres were established in the Region, with 45 tractors supplied on credit basis to these centres. I would urge you to impress upon farmers in your communities to take advantage of this laudable policy of the government. 5.0 ROAD SECTOR

MR. CHAIRMAN, NANANOM, LADIES AND GENTLEMEN:

The road sector has received a considerable level of attention in the Region. The importance of Roads to our socio-economic development cannot be overemphasised.

No wonder, during the 3 years period of the NDC government, there has been tremendous development in the road sector in the Brong Ahafo Region and our people have come to appreciate the benefits from the visible improvement and maintenance of the road network.

Between 2009 and 2011, the Ghana Highways Authority, for instance, undertook a total length of 500.05 km of road projects at a total cost of GHS 295,286,670.83.While some have been completed, others are at various stages of completion.

Furthermore, the Department of Urban Roads in the Sunyani and Techiman Areas in 2011, also undertook 66.6km of road projects at a cost of GHS 17,071,512.63.

It is laudable to note that the COCOBOD provided funding, under the 2010/2011 COCOBOD Funded Roads Improvement Projects (CFRIP), to upgrade eleven (11) gravel roads to bitumen surfacing in cocoa growing areas that were critical to the haulage of cocoa for export.

Between 2009 and 2011, this project funded 53km length of roads in cocoa growing areas in the Region at a total cost of GH¢20,099,818.76.

It is also gratifying to mention that additional 23 roads, with a total of 154.8 km length at a cost of GH¢5,855,219.20, have been awarded for rehabilitation under 2012 budget.

This significant feat has been achieved through the sound policies of the NDC government, led by His Excellency the President, Professor John Evans Atta Mills, to resuscitate the sector for increased production.

6.0 ELECTRIFICATION

6.1 Rural Electrification

DISTINGUISHED LADIES AND GENTLEMEN: The Region has benefited from the extension of the National grid to many of its communities since the assumption of power of the NDC in 2009.

Under the Self-Help Electrification Project (SHEP), electricity has been extended to 216 communities in the Region since 2009. The Region has also benefited from the Ghana Energy Development Project (GEDAP). Under the Project, 87 Communities from the Sunyani Area of the VRA/NED, including Odumase, Berekum, among others, and 39 communities under the Techiman Area also benefited.

Furthermore, over 18,102 electricity poles have been delivered to the Brong Ahafo Region to be used in the Region and the three (3) Northern Regions. Under the SHEP IV Turn-key Project being executed by Weldy/Lamonde, 398 communities in 14 districts are to be connected to the National Grid. Contracts for execution of the project for 69 communities have been signed for work to start.

Furthermore, under the GOG Energy Expansion Programme, two (2) sub-stations are being installed at Kintampo and Mim, to enable extension works to take place in other communities.

Many Assemblies, during the period, also extended electricity to some villages as well as developing areas of major towns from their own budgets. Some also purchased Low Tension Electricity Poles (LTPs) to facilitate the extension of electricity, whilst others provided street lights within the major cities in the Region. A total amount of GH¢725,301.69 was spent by the 22 Assemblies in this sector of the economy.

6.2 Bui Dam

DISTINGUISHED LADIES AND GENTLEMEN:

The construction of the Bui Dam is progressing steadily and hopefully the work would be completed on schedule as envisaged, in spite of some security concerns which have since been addressed by REGSEC.

It is significant to announce that, the Bui Power Authority is working in earnest to achieve the first power production by the last quarter of this year.

7.0 WATER AND SANITATION

MR. CHAIRMAN, DISTINGUISHED LADIES AND GENTLEMEN:

The Region is performing very well in the water sector with the improvement of services to our people.

A Peri-Urban and Rural Water and Sanitation Project was launched to provide potable water and sanitation facilities for rural communities and small towns in the Region. The Rural water and sanitation component, funded by a funding agreement involving 17 million Euros credit and 1.6 million Euros grant by the Agence Francaise De Developpment (AfD), comprises the construction of 670 boreholes in communities throughout the Region.

Out of this figure, 509 boreholes have been drilled successfully and 64 of them fitted with hand pumps, as at 17th April, 2012.

Work is progressing steadily on the 15 Small Towns Water Systems in the beneficiary communities in the region under this project.

Furthermore, under the IDA funded Water Project, the tendering process leading to the award of the contracts to provide six (6) Small

Town Water Systems, eight (8) Limited Mechanised Boreholes, 200 Hand Pump Boreholes, Household Latrines as well as Institutional Latrines to Communities in the Region, is in progress.

The Government of Ghana, under its Public Investment Programme, also constructed a total number of 223 boreholes in communities in the region during the period.

The Municipal/District Assemblies in the Region have also, through the use of their share of the Common Fund resources and those generated by themselves, spent over GH¢2,564,231.33 in providing potable water, improved sanitation and hygiene facilities and services to their respective inhabitants.

These projects, it is anticipated, will significantly raise our current water coverage level of 53.8% to 61% for rural water and 61% to 63% for urban water by the end of 2012. In addition, under the Sanitation Sub Sector, not too long ago, the RCC took delivery of 22 trucks, 96 refuse/communal containers to augment the existing fleet of the same equipment on behalf of the 22 District Assemblies. These equipment are geared towards ensuring the improvement of waste management in the region.

8.0 SPECIAL PROGRAMMES AND INTERVENTIONS

8.1 Savannah Accelerated Development Authority Programme (SADA)

MR. CHAIRMAN, LADIES AND GENTLEMEN:

I am glad to announce to this August body that immense strides have been made on this project.

A full-fledged SADA Secretariat has been established at Tamale and is functional with the appointment of the Chief Executive Officer and Board Members. It would be recalled that the President, in his 2012 State of the Nation Address, proposed the allocation of GHC 200million to support the project which was subsequently captured in the budget and received approval by Parliament.

So far, GHC100 million has been paid into the SADA Account to facilitate the implementation of the project. Earlier, GHC 30 million had been released to the SADA Secretariat for operational expenses. Let me quickly emphasize that this is not part of the seed capital of GHC 200 million for the direct implementation of the project.

8.2 National Youth Employment Programme

The Municipalities/Districts in the Brong Ahafo Region continued with the implementation of the programme. As at the end of March, 2012, a total of 18,700 youth had benefitted from the eighteen modules being operated in the region. In our quest to provide skills and employment to our teeming unemployed youth, the Local Enterprise and Skills Development Programme (LESDEP), and the Youth Enterprise Skills Development Centre (YESDEC), under the National Youth Employment Programme, were initiated. This innovation seeks to ensure that thousands of unemployed youth are taken through vocational and technical skills training in several areas, after which they would be given some equipment and tools to enable them start on their own. The disciplines covered were Eighteen (18) Modules and the total number of beneficiaries was 15,279.

Graduands received equipments like sewing machines and other dressmaking kits, hairdressing accessories, carpentry tools etc. for free.

Furthermore, the Youth in road maintenance programme was launched in the region on 10th April, 2012. This programme, which is also an innovation by this government, would equip about 900 youth in the region with skills and knowledge to undertake routine maintenance works on our roads.

Also, another module, termed as the "Kayaye" Project, is scheduled to start by the 3rd Quarter of this year, and it is expected to create additional employment to our youth.

8.3 Forest Plantation Development Project

DISTINGUISHED LADIES AND GENTLEMEN:

A total of 2,682 hectares of degraded area was put under the National Forest Plantation Development Program (NEPDP).

All sites on both forest and off-reserve areas were surveyed and demarcated with all maps generated. Site preparation, pegging and planting of seedlings were carried out on 1,794.6 out of the targeted area of 2,682 hectares as at the end of 2011 at Kintampo, Atebubu, Dormaa, Sunyani, Bechem and Goaso. A total of 2,200 persons from forest fringed communities within the region were employed during the period.

8.4 School Feeding Programme.

LADIES AND GENTLEMEN:

The Region also implemented the Ghana School Feeding Programme in all the 22 Municipal/District Assemblies.

During the second half of the year under review, the Ghana School Feeding Programme Secretariat restructured the programme which led to expansion and re-targeting. The retooling and expansion programme increased the number of beneficiary schools from 279 to 501. A total of 158,540 pupils are currently benefiting from the programme. This is an increase of 32.6% over the previous figure before the expansion and re-targeting was rolled out. In view of the strict implementation of the programme, it has also created 910 job placements.

9.0 INVESTMENTS

LADIES AND GENTLEMEN:

In view of the enviable investment climate consciously created by the NDC Government, several companies have expressed interest to invest in the Region.

OLAM, one of the largest Agri-Commodity Supply Chain Companies worldwide, operating in 64 countries across the globe in 40 products, with employee strength of 27,000, has expressed interest to invest in the region.

This is the Company that intends to establish a similar factory in Brong Ahafo to promote Ghanaian Cashews in the destination markets. This will create employment for over 2,500 people with an investment base to the tune of USD 100 Million over the next 3-4 years.

This would enable our farmers to diversify into more non-traditional crops and better their standard of living.

In a related development, a Chinese firm, Hualin International Company Limited, has begun construction work on a Cashew Processing Plant at Sampa in the Jaman North District. This is also expected to provide employment to the youth in the Jaman Districts and beyond.

Furthermore, special mention and commendation has to be made of the contribution of other firms in the private sector towards the socio-economic development of the region. Notable amongst them are Ghana Nuts Ltd in Techiman, St. Baasa Company Ltd. in Chiraa, Unity Farms in

Dormaa, as well as the Timber firms such as Ayum Forest Products, Oti Yeboah Company Ltd, ABTS, etc.

Other companies have also ventured into the mining sector and applied for licenses to prospect for gold. TOPICAL NATIONAL PROGRAMMES/INITIATIVES

Creation of New Districts

MR. CHAIRMAN, LADIES AND GENTLEMEN:

As part of the policy to deepen the decentralization policy, the government has created 42 new districts nationwide, 8 of which are municipalities and we are proud beneficiaries of five of these districts.

The districts are Sene East, Banda, Dormaa West, Asutifi South and Techiman North. They are scheduled for inauguration by June and will be in full operation thereafter.

Cocoa Rehabilitation Programme

LADIES AND GENTLEMEN:

The majority of our people in the region engage in cocoa cultivation. Statistics show that the cocoa output of the Brong Ahafo Region stood at 59,337.75 tonnes as at 2008/2009. Currently, the region is the third largest producer of cocoa in Ghana and produces about 120,000 tonnes of cocoa per anum, an unprecedented increase of 102.23% within the last three (3) years.

To further boost the cocoa sector, the government has initiated a massive programme to rehabilitate the cocoa sector.

Research indicates that about 23% of cocoa farms in Ghana are over 30 years old, with most farms heavily infested with mistletoes.

This situation has resulted in the drastic reduction in the potential yields of cocoa in many farms nationwide.

The six year programme will seek to help increase and sustain cocoa production in Ghana, through rehabilitation of old and diseased cocoa trees and replanting of new ones. It is anticipated that over 20 million cocoa seedlings would be supplied free of charge to farmers.

The Biometric Registration Exercise

LADIES AND GENTLEMEN:

The political landscape is gathering momentum and you are all witnesses to what is prevailing in the country at the moment in relation to the biometric registration exercise.

So far, the bio-metric registration exercise in the region appears to be smooth, except a few reported cases of disturbances which occurred during the first three days of the first phase (10 days) in some parts of the region.

It is very important for all stakeholders to appeal generally to our citizens across the Region to exercise patience and restraint. We must do this dispassionately and devoid of political inhibition.

Secondly, the Media needs to be professional, circumspect, fair and balanced in their reportage. The various FM Stations should desist from offering platforms to persons who have the penchant for vitriolic and acerbic attacks on innocent people. MR. CHAIRMAN, DISTINGUISHED LADIES AND GENTLEMEN:

There is no doubt that this platform has afforded us the opportunity to bring to the fore the numerous significant achievements of the NDC

Government in the Region under the able leadership of H.E. Professor J.E.A. Mills for the past three years.

We have a story to tell and a positive one for that matter. We have much to be proud of. But we have not arrived yet.

There is much to be achieved for this region in view of the huge potential at our disposal and I hope to continue to count on the unflinching support, and rich experience of Nananom, Municipal/District Assemblies, Departments and Agencies, as well as the private sector which the government considers as veritable partners in development.

Furthermore, I wish to acknowledge the support of both National and Regional leadership of the great party NDC as well as Ministers, Parliamentarians, the Media, Security Agencies and the entire citizenry without whose support we could not have achieved this enviable level of development.

Most importantly, I wish to appeal to all citizens of the Region to, at all times and in everything that we do or say, strive to emphasize our unity rather than our diversity. As the saying goes, "United we stand, divided we fall".

CONCLUSION:

MR. CHAIRMAN, LADIES AND GENTLEMEN:

Permit me to express the Region's gratitude and commendation to His Excellency, Prof. John Evans Atta Mills, the President of the Republic of Ghana, His Excellency Mr. John Dramani Mahama, the Vice President of the Republic of Ghana, the Hon. Minister of Information, Mr. Fritz Baffour, and all Municipal/District Chief Executives for their immense and continued support in the Region and particularly for the Brong Ahafo Policy Fair.

I believe that this platform has brought to the fore, unprecedented achievements made by the NDC Government within three(3) years of the dynamic and able leadership of His Excellency, Prof. John Evans Atta Mills.

Admittedly, you will agree with me that with these unprecedented achievements, the stage is rightly set for the realization of a better Ghana.

MR. CHAIRMAN, YOUR EXCELLENCIES, MEMBERS OF THE COUNCIL OF STATE, HON MINISTERS OF STATE, HON. MEMBERS OF PARLIAMENT, HON. CHIEF EXECUTIVES, REPRESENTATIVES OF THE PRESS, DISTINGUISHED LADIES AND GENTLEMEN:

In conclusion, the state of the Brong Ahafo Region is good. I am not oblivious to the fact that the task has been quite daunting and challenging.

Nevertheless, the relentless efforts of the Regional Coordinating Council, in collaboration with the Municipal/District Assemblies, Departments and Agencies, as well as the Private Sector, gives me the sufficient motivation that the Region is poised for better times ahead in the coming years.

Thank you and May God bless us all.

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