Deputy Energy Minister, Kwame Ampofo Twumasi on Tuesday urged stakeholders in the Volta River Authority Resettlement Township project to ensure that a permanent solution was found to the economic needs of the communities that were inundated by the creation of the Volta Lake.
He thus tasked stakeholders to contribute to the development of a comprehensive project package and to mobilise funds required for the implementation of the project.
This, he said, would empower the communities to become part of the development process of the country, by taking advantage of the project to change their living standards.
Mr. Twumasi was speaking at the opening of a day's stakeholder conference of the VRA Resettlement Trust Fund (VRA/RTF) in Accra.
The conference aims to provide an insight into the challenges of the resettlement communities and what the VRA/RTF was doing to ameliorate the situations.
It is expected that participants would make recommendations and adopt strategies to mobilize funds to improve the living conditions of the people in those communities.
Mr. Twumasi recalled that government in 2000, through the Energy Ministry contracted a loan of 32 million dollars from the Chinese Exim Bank for the connection of the 52 resettlement towns and other neighbouring communities to the national electricity grid.
He said, that programme was aimed at delivering reliable competitive power in a sustainable manner in order to promote economic growth and create wealth in the rural areas.
Mr. Twumasi noted that, to achieve this objective, government was promoting the creation of small-to-medium scale industries in the rural areas and enhancing activities in other sectors of the economy, such as agriculture, health, education, tourism to meet the development needs of the townships.
He tasked the stakeholders to use lessons from the past to guide them to take concrete steps in addressing the present and similar challenges as the nation embarked on similar projects to augment its energy supply.
Following the construction of the Akosombo Hydro Electric plant in the 1960's, about 80,000 people, whose homes and property were inundated due to the formation of the Volta Lake, were relocated into 52 resettlement townships spread over 17 districts in four regions in Ghana - Volta, Eastern, Northern and the Brong Ahafo.
Government in collaboration with the VRA in 1996 created a VRA/RTF to finance development projects in the settlement areas.
Although the fund allows for sourcing of other means of financing for development works in these areas, the VRA until now has been contributing 500,000 dollars annually for the purpose.
Chief Musa Adam, Chairman of the Board of Managing Trustees of the VRA/RTF said government and the VRA alone could not mitigate the problems and challenges of the settlement communities, adding that beneficiaries and stakeholders in the Akosombo dam should be given the opportunity to contribute to the development of the communities.
"The resettlement townships have suffered a lot and continue to suffer as a result of the construction of the Akosombo Dam. This is the time to bring relief to them."
"We need more grassroot actions: excellence in education access to basic social and development structures, access to health and employment.
“The communities are receptive, keen and willing. They only need to be extended conditions that will allow them to learn, develop skills and to take their place in society", he said.
Chief Musa asked stakeholders to contribute to make life in the communities not only more bearable but improved to infuse the resettlers into mainstream Ghanaian society instead of remaining "VRA babies".