Business News of 2014-08-09

US$323m Accra Eco-Park project nears take-off

The US$323million Accra Eco-Park Project that will transform the Achimota Forest into an up-class commercial eco-tourism destination in West Africa is awaiting the selection of a lead investor/private partner for take-off.

This follows the inauguration of a 10-member Project Implementation Committee that has been taskedto provide technical and managerial direction as well as supervise realisation of the project, which is expected to take five years to complete.

The Forestry Commission, custodian of the project, has already advertised seeking interest from credible lead investors to partner development of the park and so far received six qualified proposals.

The selected project partner will take up 45 percent of the stipulated cost, while the Forestry Commission will provide the remaining 55 percent.

When completed, the park will house a walk-safari; eco-lodges (environmentally-friendly lodges situated in vegetation); a visitor reception centre; a spiritual enclave for already-existing religious activities; a cultural village; amusement parks; an orchard to host rare plant species; and an arboretum (a collection of trees).

Deputy Minister of Lands and Natural Resources Barbara Serwaa Asamoah, who inaugurated the committee, said the concept for the project could not have come at a better time in the wake of continued decline in the size of the Achimota Forest due to encroachment for road construction and unapproved purposes.

She said transformation of the forest into a commercially viable eco-tourism facility will protect its ecological integrity, generate revenue for government, curtail further destruction and also serve the recreational needs of visitors.

“The Achimota Forest Reserve remains the largest urban green-belt in the country, but it is under threat due to encroachment and the possible conversion of some parts for non-environmentally-friendly land uses.

“The forest, which initially covered an area of 500 hectares, now covers a total area of 360 hectares due to encroachment for construction of settlements and roads, and as a dumping site for waste materials.

“The conversion into an eco-tourism facility is therefore a timely intervention because it will save the forest from further destruction, provide opportunity for revenue generation to government, and provide a first-class recreational centre,” she said.

Ms. Asamoah charged the committee to ensure that implementation of the project conforms to policy directions provided in the strategy document; ensure appropriate stakeholder engagement, education and awareness creation; as well as support fund-raising efforts toward the project’s smooth realisation.

Chief Executive of the Forestry Commission Samuel Afari Dartey, who doubles as chairman of the committee, assured that his team will carry out the project in a transparent manner.

The next step after inauguration of the committee, he said, will be to constitute an evaluation team to assess submissions from the lead development partners for eventual take-off.

The other nine members of the committee include Nana Kofi Adu-Nsiah, Raphael Yeboah, Daniel Amlalo and Charles Osei Bonsu.

The rest are Andy Osei Okrah, Joseph Osiakwan, Felix Brown, and David Kpelle. The ninth member will be a representative of the lead development partner that will be chosen.

Source: B&FT
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