The 3 Northern Regions of Ghana, namely, Upper East, Upper West and Northern were deemed as the at the most promising regions by the great one “Osagyefo Dr Kwame Nkrumah” and thus put in place policies to turn the area into the most advanced industrial area in the sub region.
At the top of Dr Nkrumah’s development agenda was to turn Tamale into the largest inland port, with Tamale International Airport as the best transit port.
Thus Dr Nkrumah started off by offering “free education” to bring our Northern cousins on par with the affluent South. Dr Nkrumah had a plan, which most misconstrued as his agenda to make young boys and girls who joined the Young Pioneer Movement to hero worship him…….a criticism which was proved wrong by the CIA at the turn of the 20th century.
Most Ghanaian politicians and technocrats knew the potential of the 3 Northern Regions; however who discourages potential investors from venturing into the region was bad transport infrastructure.
The neglect of constructing a freeway and railroad between the Southern Regions and the North by past governments is what had held the region back from achieving her true potential.
On Dr Nkrumah’s grand plan for the Northern Regions was the establishment of a Development University, a project that finally came into existence during the regime of Flt Lt Rawlings. Although Rawlings can claim credit for fulfilling a legacy of Dr Nkrumah, however what people should know and understand is the vision of Dr Nkrumah in the 1960s was well ahead of its time. Hence the reason he is often referred to by both African and Western academics as Dr Nkrumah the “Visionary”.
The region abounds in numerous investment opportunities and the climate condition is just perfect for most crops that can be found in the northern hemisphere. The potential of the region is phenomenal……..with Tamale (the adopted home town of this writer) serving as the hub for the northern countries like Niger, Burkina Faso and Mali and its famous capital of Timbuktu.
By connecting Tamale to the southern railroad network, Tamale can attract investments from far a field as China and Singapore. Dr Nkrumah did planned to build a new township just outside Tamale with all the amenities to rival Tema and serve as the commuter belt for those professionals and workers who would travel to work in Tamale. Bolgatanga and WA were earmarked to benefit from Tamale’s success. The University Of Development Studies, with campuses spreading far to cover the WA and Bolgatanga metropolis was planned to attracted the best brains from every cor5r of the globe.
Dr Nkrumah’s vision was to turn Tamale and its neighbouring regions into the Mecca and the industrial heart of Ghana.
How can the North achieve its true potential? To market the North as the economic gateway to Ghana, the government, first and foremost has to improved the physical and human infrastructure of the 3 Northern Regions……… this is to include the extension of the railroad from Kumasi to WA via Tamale and Bolgatanga. The road network needs to upgrade from trunk into dual carriage free ways to connect the Southern half to the North. Some of the ministries like ministry for agriculture must move from Accra to Tamale. Others like Lands to Kumasi etc etc. User fees in primary health and education must be removed to enable the poor of the north to have a better and quality free education. The government must also critically consider the call for the establishment of the Agricultural University in Ho to serve the Volta and the Eastern and Northern regions. The Agriculture University to be sited, though not on the grand plan of Dr Nkrumah, however the only presidential candidate who has given much thought to this idea is Osahene Kojo Boakye Djan, the front runner of the Nkrumaist groupings.
By improving the physical and human infrastructure of the region that Ghanaians in Diaspora and other invertors can be attracted to the region. Tamale and its environs is a gold mine…all that it needs is proper management and marketing. By improving its infrastructure the region can play an important part in the country’s VISION 2020 project…….a project that perhaps has been able to unify a country hungry for success.
Alhaji Mustapha Ali Iddris was right when he stated that Tamale is the gate way to the Northern countries with a population of over 200 million. As far back as 1957, Dr Nkrumah saw the potential of Tamale and the other metropolis and thus them grand plan of turning Tamale into the biggest Inland Port in the whole of Africa.
By improving the regions physical and human infrastructure, the northern regions and the University of Development Studies stand a good chance of first choice for many investors. The UDS can attract the best academic brains due to its unique location. The medical school of the UDS at Tamale teaching hospital must be well resourced to be able to attract brilliant academics.
This writer is adding his voice to those who are calling for then Tamale Polytechnic to be turned into technical university to supplement the work of the UDS.
Peter Jeffrey London.
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