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General News Sun, 25 Jul 2010

Savannah Accelerated Development Authority to start work in August

Accra, July 25, GNA - Before Parliament rises on August 3, the House will pass the Savannah Accelerated Development Authority (SADA) Bill, to set the pace for the accelerated development of the North.

As soon as the bill is enacted, presidential accent is expected to be given to it, to set in motion the setting up of a secretariat for the authority.

Dr Sulley Gariba, Development Policy Advisor at the Office of the Vice President, made this known to the Ghana News agency in Accra.

A cabinet memorandum of SADA released in 2009 committed President John Evans Atta Mills to the accelerated development of Northern Savannah, in order to promote equity in resource allocation to the poorest regions of Ghana and trigger actions for socio-economic development.

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A technical team established by government and comprising representatives from the Regional Co-ordinating Councils and District Assemblies, have prepared a comprehensive framework to guide series of development actions in the Northern, Upper East, Upper West regions and areas contiguous to the North in Brong Ahafo and Volta regions.

The memorandum tasked the Attorney-General to liaise with the Ministry of Finance and the President's Development Policy Advisor to propose appropriate legislation for the immediate establishment of SADA.

Dr Gariba said the authority is likely to operate a small office of about 15 staff devoid of bureaucracy and at a location suitable for the beneficiary communities, while its activities would be totally decentralised.

He said auxiliary secretariats would be established at locations such as the Sissili and Oti River basins to exploit the irrigation and other potentials of the two water bodies.

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Dr Gariba said SADA would fast track projects, which under normal circumstances would have taken a long period to execute.

For instance the gap in the provision of good roads between the North and the South, which would have taken 80 years to bridge, could be possible in 10 years under SADA.

The SADA Bill will create conditions that will induce adaptation of the Northern Savannah to climate change by the mitigation of the prolonged droughts and sporadic floods.

The strategy is based on the concept of a "Forested and Green North", where agricultural production is modernised and oriented towards a larger market embracing the Sahelian countries, including Northern Cote d' Ivoire and Togo.

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It is premised on the fact that the North has substantial growth potential in agriculture, tourism and mining.

Clause 2 of the bill provides for the object of the authority and its relationship with the Northern Savannah Development Strategy.

The bill talks about the establishment of SADA, objects, functions, powers, independence and governing body.

It also entails functions tenure of office of the board, disclosure of interest, establishment of committees and stakeholder co-ordinating committee.

The bill spelt out the retention and utilisation of internally generated funds, power to contract loans, investment activities and income, annual budget of the authority, exemption from taxes, duties and other charges.

Slow growth in the Northern Savannah sector has delayed and reduced Ghana's achievement of the Millennium Development Goals and middle income status.

The strategy will provide support for vigorous private sector initiatives to strengthen existing operators and attract new investments in manufacturing, processing, transport and tourist services in Northern Ghana.

It will also facilitate active support for civil society organisations and non-governmental organisations in public activity in the North.

Source: GNA