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ACCRA ECO-PARK PROJECT BEGINS
Posted: 19 Oct 2016

                                                                 


A sod-cutting ceremony has been held to signal the commencement of the redevelopment of the Achimota Forest Reserve into the Accra Eco-Park. The ceremony held in Accra was to initiate another laudable ecotourism infrastructural development which has the potential to make the city of Accra a major tourism destination in the West African sub-region.


The 495 – hectare Achimota Forest Reserve was created by the Colonial Government of the Gold Coast for research, recreational and environmental conservation purpose. It was intended to be managed by the Forestry Commission for the public interest. However, developments in recent times have necessitated the Forestry Commission (FC) and its partners to re-package the Achimota Forest into an innovative and comprehensive ecotourism park.


President John Dramani Mahama, in a speech read on his behalf by Dr. Alfred Sugri Tia, Dep. Minister for Environment, Science, Technology and Innovation (MESTI), said government had decided to convert the Achimota Forest into a world-class recreational facility and a major tourism destination in West Africa rather than allow further encroachment and dumping of waste into the forest. “This development will preserve the only green belt in Accra and allow the forest to continue to function as a carbon sink and at the same time create jobs and business opportunities for the private sector” he said.


The Project involves the construction of amusement parks, orchards, arboretum, eco-economical enclaves and eco-lodges but with little disruption in the natural vegetation as possible. It will also have a spiritual enclave to cater for spiritual/worship activities that bring more than 180,000 people annually to the Achimota Forest. There are also high-seating capacity conference rooms to be sited outside the main forest area.


Nii Osah Mills, the Hon. Minister of Lands and Mineral Resources, said the Achimota Forest Reserve had long been recognized as having outstanding potential for tourism development, considering its location in the city. “The Accra Eco-Park development has, therefore, been conceived to provide a unique opportunity to demonstrate to the business community and the public that ecotourism is a viable environment friendly, employment-creating, sustainable income-generating venture,” he stated. Additonally, It will add to the country’s major national parks – Kakum in the Central Region and Mole in the Northern Region.


Mr. Samuel Afari Dartey, the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Forestry Commission, said there was the need to undertake innovative ecotourism development as a means to safeguard the ecological integrity of the forest. He said the Eco-Park project will target about 2 percent (2%) of all visitors to the West African sub-region, attracting more than 600,000 visitors to the Accra Eco- Park annually. The Project will create more than 4,000 jobs during the construction phase and about 2,500 direct jobs during the implementation phase, he said, adding that the Forestry Commission would receive about 20 percent (20%) of revenue generated. In addition, the government of Ghana will receive revenue in the form of corporate taxes, PAYE and social security payments (SSNIT) and other indirect taxes.


For the private sector, numerous business opportunities will be created, thus enhancing the contribution of the forestry sector to National development. The Chief Executive Officer of Aikan Capital Limited, Mr. Oheneba Otchere, said the Project makes room for the planting of more trees and would ensure that at least one million trees were planted to further enhance the Forest cover.


The initiative which is a Public-Private-Partnership (PPP) agreement entered into by the government, was awarded to an indigenous Ghanaian Company, Aikan Capital Ltd following a competitive tender process. The lease agreement allows Aikan Capital to design, build and operate the facility for 10 years.

 

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