Vice President Dr Mahamudu Bawumia said the challenges of northern Ghana are too obvious to be ignored by the Government.
He said data from the Ghana Living Standard Survey and Ghana National Household Registry indicated that northern Ghana still lagged behind in key developmental areas including infrastructure and access to quality education.
The area also suffers low utilisation of machinery in agriculture, huge post-harvest losses, poor marketing, and stark poverty.
Dr Bawumia said this in a speech read on his behalf by the Upper West Regional Minister, Dr Hafiz Bin Salih, during the 2021 Northern Ghana Development Summit held at Jirapa in the Upper West Region.
He said in the midst of those challenges, there were still nagging issues of chieftaincy and land disputes, ethnic conflicts and youth unemployment and the emerging threat of violent extremism and terrorism.
These clearly explained the real need for the summit, on the theme: “Accelerating Development of Northern Ghana through Investment and Partnership, Job Creation, Peace and Security".
Dr Bawumia, therefore, urged stakeholders to tackle the details of the theme and endeavour to come up with concrete strategies that could translate into real programmes to address the development challenges of northern Ghana.
“Government will be looking forward to the output and outcome of the summit and will work to mainstream the overall conclusions into the national, regional and district levels,” he said.
Vice President Bawumia said government would continue to ensure equitable distribution of resources across the country and focus on major projects that could transform northern Ghana including the construction of the multi-purpose Pwalugu Dam.
Through the Northern Development Authority (NDA), he said a total of 3,000 tricycles were distributed to support agriculture, while projects under construction included 400 seater water closet toilets, 200 solar powered mechanised water supply system, 50 rural clinics with nurses' quarters, 15 warehouses to support post-harvest losses, and 150 school blocks in the northern zone.
All those, the Vice President said, would come to not if they did not constantly formulate strategies to consolidate the gains made and deal with the challenges associated with the development of the north.
He said challenges of funding must be tackled with the support of the development partners, adding that it was encouraging that this year's summit had an investment dimension to it and called on investors to give that area the needed attention.
Dr Mohammed Ibn Chambas, a former President of the ECOWAS Parliament, commended government for mainstreaming the three development authorities in the northern, middle and coastal belts.
He said through the 2020-2023 Medium Term Expenditure Framework of the Department of Special Development Initiatives of the Government, the NDA had seen significant investments in agricultural and health sector infrastructure.
Despite these efforts under the President's Special Development Initiatives, implemented under the auspices of the NDA, the fundamental problem of poverty in northern Ghana still remained.
That, he said, was particularly exacerbated by the recent Covid-19 pandemic and the effects of climate change, which had threatened many structures that hitherto supported community resilience.
The Northern Development Summit is an annual convening that brings together both state and non-state actors, institutions and individuals onto one non-partisan platform to assess, discuss and recommend actions to accelerate the development of northern Ghana to address the north-south development disparities.
It is being organised by STAR Ghana in collaboration with the NDA and the five Regional Coordinating Councils (RCCs).