Meet-the-Press: Ashanti Region
Mr. Chairman,Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen of the Press,1.0.INTRODUCTIONToday is the turn of the Ashanti Regional Co-ordinating Council (ARCC) to meet the press. It is indeed a great pleasure for me to make this presentation. 2.0.PROFILE OF ASHANTIAshanti, with Kumasi as its capital, lies approximately at the centre of the country. It covers an area of 24,390 square kilometres representing 10.2% of the land area of Ghana. Ashanti is the most populous region in Ghana. According to the 2000 Population and Housing Census Report, the Region recorded a total of 3,612,950 representing 19.1% of national total of 18,912,079. Males constitute 50.2%. Out of the three hundred and sixty four (364) settlements described as urban in Ghana i.e. with a population of 5000 and above, fifty eight (58) are in Ashanti. Fifty-one point three (51.3%) per cent of the people live in urban settlements. The Region has eighteen administrative districts, the highest in the country. It is made up of one Metropolitan Assembly (Kumasi metropolitan Assembly) and seventeen (17) other District Assemblies.There are as many as thirty-three (33) constituencies giving the Region a strong representation in Parliament. Ashanti has thirty-three (33) Traditional Council areas. A Paramount Chief heads each council. All the Paramount chiefs also owe allegiance to Otumfuo, the Asantehene who is the head of the Asanteman Council. Otumfuo is also the head of the Kumasi Traditional Council. Ashanti is affectionately dubbed the 'Resource Basket of Ghana' because it is endowed with numerous resources.· The Region has abundant food supplies to feed its people and others. These include plantain, maize, cassava, cocoyam, yam, vegetables and other cereals and legumes. Irish potatoes also thrive well in Nsuta near Mampong.· The industrial crops grown include cocoa, oil palm, tobacco, bast fibre, cotton, citrus and cashew.· The Region has the largest number of Poultry Industries in the Country. It is also the home of large poultry feedmills. · A sizeable quantity of bamboos and canes grow wildly in the forest belt.· The Region is endowed with large deposits of gold and bauxite. Other mineral deposits of economic value found in the Region include manganese, iron, silica, clay and limestone. Traces of copper, platinum, lithium, tin arsenic and mica are also found.· The Region has several tourism potentials including Lake Bosumtwe. · Added to these the people in the Region exhibit perhaps the highest entrepreneurial acumen and drive in the country, ready to foster partnership with local and foreign investors for the development of the Region.· The Region's vast natural resources, including arable land and mineral deposits, have led to the establishment of some industries. These include Wood Processing and Furniture, Beverage (both alcoholic and non-alcoholic), capital goods and metal fabrication. · The Suame Magazine located in Kumasi is recognised as the most efficient mechanical, electrical and car body building workshop in the sub-Sahara Africa.3.0.AGRICULTUREMajor activities within the agricultural sector worth mentioning are:3.1. Poultry Industry in AshantiAshanti Region has the largest number of poultry industry in the country including Darko Farms, Mfum Farms, Asamoah Yamoah Farms, Asare Farms and many others. The Region has the potential to feed the whole country and the sub region with poultry Products. The region is also the home of large Poultry Feed mills.There is also a large raw material base including maize and soybeans especially from Ejura area to further boost the poultry industry. Poultry Farmers in the region have formed a Vibrant Association. All that is required is for the Government to source funding under the AGOA initiative from the African Development Bank to support the poultry industry in the Region. This will enable us to feed every kitchen in the country as well as the sub region. The advantages to be derived are enormous.3.2.Sunflower Cultivation and Processing in AshantiLast Year, I led a delegation to Italy, during which I met with both Ghanaian and Italian investors including Professor Gian Paolo Vannozi of the University of Udine, Italy. The meeting culminated in the signing of a loan agreement of 3.5million dollars to be spent on sunflower cultivation and processing in Ashanti. Investors from South Africa have also expressed interest in the project.The benefits to be derived from sunflower development are enormous. Apart from production of cholesterol free edible oil the by-products could further be used in the poultry industry. Meanwhile, a project document on the technical feasibility of sunflower development in the Region has been prepared by the Regional Co-ordinating Council.The project when implemented will no doubt, promote employment in productive agricultural activities with positive impact on the development of related industrial activities in the rural areas.3.3.President's Special Initiative on Cassava StarchThe President's Special Initiative (PSI) on Cassava Starch is to be replicated in Ashanti. To enable us learn at first hand the method of cultivation and processing, I led a team of five District Chief Executives from Ashanti – Atwima, Amansie East, Amansie West, Adansi East and Adansi West and two from the Central Region i.e. Assin and Upper Denkyira to Bawjiase (the factory site) and cassava producing areas – Gomoa Kumasi, Gomoa Dabanyin and Gomoa Gyangyandze. Plans are far ahead to undertake this laudable project in our Region to be sited at Obuasi to be known as Sika Starch Company . We hope to over take Bawjiase. Meanwhile, all the selected Districts have started developing multiplication farms.3.4.Cultivation of Irish PotatoesThis is a special initiative being undertaken by the Hon. Regional Minister to promote the cultivation of the crop in Nsuta in the Sekyere West District of the Region. Consequently the Nsutaman Rural Bank has agreed to support the farmers in Nsuta and surrounding areas to grow Irish potatoes to supply the hospitality industry in the Region. This will go a long way in reducing imports of Irish Potatoes.3.5.Citrus Production and Processing My office is facilitating the establishment of a citrus processing plant by a private entrepreneur/farmer, Asare Farms at Trabuom in the Bosumtwi-Atwima-Kwanwoma District. The plant will reduce post harvest losses in citrus production.3.6.Citronella PlantA citronella plant has been established at Konenase in the Amansie West District by the Resolute Amansie West Ltd. a Mining Company under the Sustainable Livelihood Project. The farmers have been organised into co-operatives and they are managing the plant. Production has already begun.3.7.ConclusionThe major challenge in the Agriculture Sector is accessibility to credit and we are working assiduously to overcome this as we are in touch with the Banks.4.0. STATE OF EDUCATION IN ASHANTI4.1.Educational facilities/institutionsThe Region has the highest number of educational districts, teachers, schools and pupils in the country. It has 18 District Education Directorates, 11 Educational Units and 133 circuits. There are: · 1104 Kindergartens· 1864 Primary Schools · 1244 Junior Secondary Schools· 80 Senior Secondary Schools· 7 Teacher Training Colleges· 1 Technical/Vacation School· 2 Agric Institutes at Kwadaso and Ejura· 4 Tertiary Institutions i.e. KNUST, Kumasi and Mampong Campuses of UCEW and Kumasi Polytechnic.· 4 Research Institutes i.e. Crop Research, Soil Research, Forestry Research Institute of Ghana and BRRI 4.2.Falling Standard of EducationDespite the availability of all these facilities and institutions, the standard of education in the Region has been falling especially, at the basic school level. This has been a bother to both Otumfuo the Asantehene and the Regional Co-ordinating Council. On my familiarisation tour of the districts in the Region I visited several basic schools and second cycle institutions to acquaint myself with the problems.4.3.Attempts made to address Falling StandardAttempts are therefore being made to address the issue.i.) Through my initiative all the District Directorates of Education are organising Spelling Bee contests for basic schools in the Region. ii. Under the Otumfuo Education Fund (OEF) numerous scholarships have been offered to brilliant but needy pupils and students all over the country to pursue education from the basic up to the tertiary level. Mr. Chairman, let me therefore use this platform to express our sincere gratitude to Otumfuo the Asantehene for this laudable initiative and programmes which many traditional areas in the country are now emulating.iii. Members of Parliament in the Region have been using part of their Common Fund allocation to support needy but brilliant pupils and students in their constituencies. They have been providing schools with furniture including teachers' tables and chairs.iv. District Assemblies have been sponsoring teacher trainees at the Training Colleges.v. District Assemblies have also been offering scholarships to needy but brilliant students and pupils in their respective districts.Second Cycle Institution Projectsvi At the secondary school level, eight (8) second cycle institutions benefitted from a total of ¢613 million under the GET Fund for rehabilitation works in 2001. Phase I is completed. Phase II has just begun with an amount of ¢8.8billion for 36 projects in the first cycle special education, and second cycle institutions including two Girls' schools. vii. In an attempt to promote Girl Child Education, the Regional Co-ordinating Council together with the Regional Directorate of Education have converted two more senior secondary schools to Girls' schools. These are:1. Atwimaman Secondary School renamed after Asantehemaa, Nana Afua Kobi Serwaa Apem 2. Wesley Day Secondary School.viii. Meanwhile, an amount of ¢1.85 billion has been provided in thisyear's Public Investment Programme (PIP) estimates for the rehabilitation and completion of 32 projects in a number of Senior Secondary Schools in the Region. Tertiary Level Institution Projectix. At the tertiary level Government, through the GET Fund, is spending an amount of ¢6.4 billion cedis on the construction of a 5-Storey Library Complex at Kumasi Polytechnic. Other projects being undertaken at the Polytechnic are the Renovation of Stores/Academic Staff Offices. This project was completed with additional funds of ¢1.5 billion from the GET Fund. A new 3-Storey Classroom Block costing ¢4 billion cedis has also started with funds from the GET Fund. Ladies and Gentlemen, the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology also benefitted from the GET Fund with the Refurbishment of the Great Hall at the cost of ¢2.7 billion.5.0. HEALTH ISSUESThere are four hundred and twenty-five (425) health facilities in the Region. This is made up of:i.) 83 hospitals i.e. 22 Government, 3 Quasi Government, 16 Mission and 42 Privateii.) 87 Health Centres made up of 81 Government and 6 Missioniii.) 36 Cliniciv.) 80 maternity Homes (all Private)v.) 139 Outreach points.The Suntreso, Old Tafo, Manhyia and Chirpatre Polyclinic have all been converted into District Hospitals.The second largest tertiary Health Institution in Ghana, the Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital i.e. KATH, is located in the regional capital. The hospital also serves as the tertiary referral centre for the northern sector.5.1. Rural Health Services Under the Saudi Fund for Development three (3) Rural Health Centres at – Aframso (in Ejura Sekyedumase), Kotokuom and Anhiaso (in Atwima District) are being constructed at ¢1.7 billion, ¢1.6 billion and ¢1.61 billion respectively.Under the OPEC Fund, a Rural Health Services Project is also being constructed at Nkawie at the cost of ¢542.4 million. Work is completed. Again, the health Centre at New Edubiase in the Adansi East District Capital has been upgraded to District Hospital status at the of cost ¢6.036 billion with funds from OPEC Fund.5.2. Mutual Health Financing Schemei. In consonance with Government Policy to abolish the Cash and Carry System in health delivery the Ashanti Region Civil Servant Association was the first to implement a new Mutual Health Financing Scheme.By the Year 2004 all the 18 District Assemblies in the Region would have embraced the scheme.ii. The Manhyia Hospital in Kumasi metropolis also operates a 'Susu Scheme' that ensures that antenatal clients contribute some amount of money during each visit towards the cost of delivery. The scheme has led to a considerable increase in antenatal clinic attendance and supervised deliveries, as clients do not have to pay up front for the cost of services.5.3.Public Investment Programme (PIP) Health ProjectsFor the Year 2002 an amount of ¢4.8 billion has been spent on some important health projects in the Region. These include:i.) Rehabilitation and expansion of Kumasi South Urban Health Centre at Chirapatre - ¢200m.ii.) Provision of ¢1.3b for the completion of the Radiotherapy Centre at Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital.iii.) ¢2 billion for the Completion of Maternity and Children's Block at Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital.5.4.HIV/AIDS in Ashanti5.4.1 Incidence of AIDS This is a major health problem in the Region. In 2001 there were 3046 reported cases. From January up to September 2002, the Region recorded 2495 new HIV/AIDS cases, made up of 1496 females and 999 males. And in Year 2001 out of the 13,571 blood donors screened, 193 representing 1.4% were found to be positive donors.5.4.2.Interventions/Strategies These include:· Information Communication and Education througha) Routine/Continuous Educationb) Special Education Campaign· AIDS Surveillance· HIV Sentinel Surveillance· Management of AIDS and STIS· Screening of blood before transfusing · Management of AIDS and STIS· Manpower Development· Intersectoral collaboration· Monitoring5.5.Buruli UlcerThe Region recorded 334 new cases in 2001, a decrease of 5.4% over the past year. About forty two percent of the reported cases for the year were from the Atwima district. This is the first time in four years that a district other than Amansie West had reported such high cases of buruli ulcer.6.0. COMMUNITY WATER AND SANITATION PROGRAMMEThrough IDA funding the Community Water and Sanitation Department is undertaking various water supply systems in seven districts of Ashanti this year. Three hundred and thirty-eight (338) boreholes are being provided in seven districts – Amansie East (70), Amansie West (76), Ejisu-Juaben (25), Ahafo Ano South (33), Sekyere West (52) and Asante Akim South (70), at the cost of approximately ¢14 billion.7.0. SANITATION7.1.Removal of garbageAt the instance of the Regional Co-ordinating Council all the eighteen Metro/District Assemblies provided a total amount of ¢2.2 billion the management of heaps of solid and liquid waste in their respective Districts. This has gone a long way in reducing the mountains of garbage found in some communities, particularly the urban centres.7.2. Construction of IncineratorsSome Districts such as Asante Akim North are using HIPC Funds to construct incinerators in some selected communities. So far six (6) incinerators are under construction at the cost of ¢180 million.7.3. Kumasi Solid Waste Management ProjectTranslit Nederland B.V, a Dutch Company is financing the collection and transportation of Solid Waste Management Project for Kumasi. The project is expected to cost about 12million dollars. The project will provide effective, efficient collection and transportation of solid waste for the Metropolis. It will also supply 84 different types of waste collection vehicles and trailers. Under the project a systematic training programme (local and foreign) will be designed for sufficient numbers of the KMA staff to ensure technology transfer from the Netherlands to KMA.This project was secured as a result of a request made by Hon. Regional Minister to the Royal Netherlands Governments to commemorate 300 years of Partnership with Ashanti Region.7.4. KVIP Abolished The KVIP toilet system has now outlived its usefulness and therefore a directive has been issued by the Hon. Regional Minister to abolish its construction by District Assemblies and to be replaced by water closets, Aqua Privy and biogas systems.8.0. ROADS8.1. Urban Roadsi. A number of road arteries in the various suburbs of Kumasi Metropolis are being rehabilitated. These include: Industrial Area Roads, Afanko Roads, Daban Road, Odeneho Kwadaso road e.t.c.ii. Asafo Market Interchange Project (FLYOVER)This is going to be the first of its kind in Ashanti. The design drawings have been completed and the project is to be financed by the IDA (World Bank). It will commence by March 2003 and relocation of utilities will start in January 2003iii. Dual carriageway from Oforikrom/Anloga to Asokwa By Pass to complete the Ring Road (3km).Designs have been completed and the total project cost is 5.4m dollars. The project is expected to start in September 2003.iv. Dual Carriageway from Asafo/Ahmadiyya Roundabout to Ramseyer Presby Vocational Institute Junction (6km).The total project cost is 8.5m dollars and is expected to start in September 2003.v. Proposed Dual Carriageway from Bekwai Roundabout through Sofoline to Abuakwa (11km). Designs are being prepared for implementation.vi. Suame Roundabout – Tafo/Pankronu-Ehwiaa Dual Carriageway (7km). Design drawings are in progress.There are other road development projects currently going on in the metropolis. The projects involve widening of existing arterial roads as well as rehabilitation works. The cost of the projects is fifty (50) billion cedis. The road projects will end by the Year 2003.8.2.Feeder RoadThe Ashanti Region has a total of 5,300km stretch of feeder roads. Out of this 2884.5km representing 54% is engineered whilst the rest of 2,435.7km representing 46% is unengineered i.e. remain tractor trails e.t.c. Of the engineered roads 93.8km representing 3% is bituminous surfaced whilst 2790.7km representing 97% is earth or gravel surfaced.Again, 1567.0km stretch i.e. 54% can be described as good whilst 1,076km i.e. 34% is said to be fair. The remaining 241.5km i.e. 8% is said to be in poor state.TABLE 1 SURFACE TYPE OF FEEDER ROADS SURFACE TYPE LENGTH PERCENTAGES Bituminous 93.8km 3 Earth/ Gravel 2790.7km 97 TOTAL 2884.5km 100 TABLE 2 CONDITION OF ENGINEERED ROADS CONDITION LENGTH( km) PERCENTAGES GOOD 1567.0 54.3 FAIR 1076.0 34.3 POOR 241.5 8.4 TOTAL 2,884.5 100 In its manifesto, the New Patriotic Party describes the Afram Plains as the 'Grain basket of Ghana'. This is because of the great potentials the Afram Plains has in terms of agriculture. The potentials can be harnessed by constructing access roads to the Plains. My administration is therefore making attempts to penetrate into the area. On the 10th August 2001, a 32.9km stretch of road linking Birem in Sekyere West to Anyinofi in Sekyere East was awarded on contract. About 50% of the work has been completed. The project is estimated at ¢3.3billion. In the year 2001, 17 Feeder Road projects were awarded for rehabilitation. Eight have been completed whilst the rest are at different stages of completion.Three feeder roads were also awarded for surfacing, four for spot improvement and two for regravelling. In Year 2002 four roads are being rehabilitated with eight being surfaced. Five roads are to be regravelled whilst three are to be improved upon. A number of steel bridges have been constructed to link up Communities. In Year 2001 four bridges on River Anusu were completed. This Year three bridges on Rivers Pra and Oda have also been completed whilst two on River Fum are on- going. The bridge on Oda River is however yet to begin.8.3. Trunk Roads – Ghana Highway Authorityii) In Ashanti Region, the Ghana Highway Authority oversees the maintenance and development of the 1838.5km of highways and trunk roads. Trunk roads in the Region have 3 forms of surface – Asphaltic concrete, bituminous surface dressing and gravel/ earth. The distribution is as follows: (a) asphaltic concrete 341.4km 18.6% (b) surface dressing 560.4km 30.5% (c) gravel/earth 763.7km 41.5% There is a missing link of 173km, representing 9.4%, which is yet to be constructed. About 379km of road representing 24% are in good condition excluding 99.4km under construction, whereas 637km i.e. 41% are in poor condition. In addition 530km of the trunk roads are in fair condition. TABLE 3 TRUNK ROADS SURFACE CONDITION ( 2002) SURFACE TYPE GOOD FAIR POOR TOTAL Km % Km % Km % Km Asphalt 207.9 61 120.5 35 13.0 4 341.4 Surface Dressing 438.5 78 121.9 22 0.0 0 560.4 Gravel 0 0 233 35 432 65 664.3 SUB-TOTAL 646 41 475 30 445 28 1,566 8.3.1. Projects Awarded a) Maintenance ProjectsA total of 139km of trunk roads have been awarded for periodic maintenance since the beginning of the Year 2001 to date. The works included 138km of resealing and 15.7km of resurfacing of existing bituminous surface. Besides 16km of existing gravel surfaced roads were upgraded to bituminous surface. Of all these road projects, 154km representing 90% have been completed whereas the remaining 16km i.e. 10% is on going. The total estimated cost of these road projects over the period 2001 to date is ¢34.5 billion. Out of this amount ¢17.7 billion has been paid for work done. b) Development Projectsi. The Konongo-Nnadieso portion of the Kumasi-Accra road has also been awarded to Messrs Sonitra Ltd. to provide asphaltic concrete overlay to the existing road pavement with few sections of the existing pavement earmarked for re-construction. This forms part of the Konongo-Anyinam asphaltic concrete overlay project jointly financed by the African Development Bank (AFDB), OPEC Fund and the Government of Ghana. The contract sum is ¢128 billion for completion in 24 calendar months.ii. Dual Carriage Road from Kumasi to EjisuThis proposed project is to be funded by DANIDA and is scheduled to take off soon.8.3.2. Roads under Constructioni.) Mankranso –Tepa road (45km) is being upgraded from gravel surface to bituminous surface. It is at the cost of ¢36.1billion cedis with funds provided by KfW. ii.) Upgrading of 40km Bekwai-Kuntenase-Ejisu Road at the cost of ¢29billion Funds are being provided under KfW.iii.) Ejura-Kuntoso-Nkoranza road (54km).Out of this stretch of 54km only 26km falls within Ashanti. It is also being constructed with 5km receiving bituminous surface treatment. The total cost is ¢21.5billion cedis and KfW is providing funds.iv.) Aframso-Sekyedumase-Kyiradeso-Nkoranza road (57.6km) at a cost of ¢31.1 billion cedis. It is being funded by KfW.9.0. INVESTMENT PROMOTIONGovernment's 'Golden Age of Business' is being vigorously pursued by my Administration.1) A Business Investment and Tourism Secretariat (BITS) has been established at the Ashanti Regional Co-ordinating Council. The office is to provide data and information to potential investors and tourists. 2) Under the auspices of Manhyia Palace and the Ashanti Regional Co-ordinating Council, a 3-day Economic Forum was held at the Prempeh Assembly Hall from 9th-11th April 2002. The Forum identified investment challenges and opportunities in the Region and evolved measures for accelerating private sector development.3) To further boost private investment in Ashanti, I facilitated the co-operation between Hanseatic Enterprise Ltd. (a wholly Ghanaian owned private meat processing company based in Kumasi) and Jorgansen Engineering and Intercool Food Technology from Denmark to expand their meat processing business with modern technology. 4) From the 8th-11th November 2001, I led a team to the African World Expo and Conference held in Detroit, Michigan. I used the opportunity to highlight the potentials of the Region and beckoned both Ghanaian and foreign investors to the Region.5) Gihoc Footwear (Shoe Factory) IIn a bid to revamp the abandoned GIHOC Footwear Factory in Kumasi, I made appeals to both local and foreign investors to consider reactivating the said factory. Messrs Telfin from the Czech Republic showed interest in the factory through the efforts of Her Excellency Veronica Kuffour, Ghana's Ambassador to Czech RepublicA delegation from the Company visited Ghana from the 9th-20th March 2002. They called on the Hon Regional Minister who led them to pay courtesy calls on His Excellency the President as well as Ministers of State responsible for Finance, Defence, Trade and Industries, Education and Communications & Technology.They also met with the Divestiture Implementation Committee. The DIC after examining their proposals gave approval for Messrs Telfin to take over the project. The company has accepted the terms of offer of the DIC and intends to employ about 800 workers with two shifts. The approved consideration for the assets is1.1million US dollars. Other Investment Trips6) On Monday 22nd April 2002, I led a delegation to Korea at the invitation of a would-be investor, the President of Bogo Co. Ltd. who wants to set up a jewellery manufacturing company in Ashanti. He has already acquired a site in Kumasi for the factory that will accommodate the jewellery clothing as well as the computer and electronics departments. The production of jewellery is anticipated to start by the end of 20037) And in September 2002, I led a delegation to visit Detroit in USA. The team met some Black American entrepreneurs, notable among them was Michael J. Authrie, the President of Detroit Chassis. The company produces autobody chassis for General Motors and is currently producing electric cars for Ford Motors. I had the opportunity to drive one of these cars not yet on the market. The Chief Executive expressed interest in investing in Ghana and would visit the country very soon. Other businessmen have also decided to come to Ghana on a fact-finding mission with a view to assessing the possibility of investing in the country.8. Nyinahin Bauxite ProjectAshanti Region has a large deposit of bauxite at Nyinahin in Atwima Mponua area. Currently, an Australian Investment Company has expressed interest to develop the Nyinahin deposit.It is estimated that about 1 billion dollars would be needed to harness the bauxite deposits9. Kumasi Jute FactoryThe Jute Factory has also been divested by the DIC to a Ghanaian and his foreign partner. Hopeful the factory will start operation next year. 10. Akumadan Tomato/Vegetable Cultivation and Processing ProjectMessrs Hovev Agricultural Company of Israelin partnership with a registered Ghanaian Company are to undertake the project, which is to be sited at Akumadan in the Offinso district. The total project investment cost is estimated at 16.5million dollars and is to start operation within the first quarter of 2003.This project involves the use of modern and appropriate technology in the cultivation of tomatoes and other vegetables for processing for both domestic and export markets.It is interesting to observe that the project will as well export fresh vegetables to Europe.11. Lake Bosomtwe Tourist Development ProjectA Committee involving all stakeholders, has been put in place, for the integrated development of Lake Bosomtwe basin. Apart from the provision of hospitality services for both local and foreign visitors, a National Museum and eco-tourism park have also been proposed to make the area a one-stop tourism centre and holiday resort. Other facilities to be added include cruising on the lake, water games, game fishing etc.The major constraint is the development of infrastructure, particularly access roads provision of reliable supply of water, electricity and telephone facilities. Because of the huge capital outline required, my administration will need the support of Central Government and other local and foreign investors to harness the huge potentials of the Lake Basin.Already researchers from Germany, United States of America, Austria, Finland and South Africa have expressed interest in the Bosomtwe Basin, which they consider as an interest for scientific studies.The Geological Survey Department in Accra as well as the Physics Department of KNUST is collaborating effectively for the conduct of the scientific studies.10.0 KUMASI AIRPORT AND INLAND PORT AT BOANKRA10.1 Kumasi Airport OperationsFor the past one year the Regional Co-ordinating Council in conjunction with Ghana Civil Aviation Authority have managed to open the Kumasi Airport for commercial business. Negotiations are still going on to get flights from our neighbouring countries like Burkina Faso, Cote D'ivoire, Mali etc to use the Airport as well as connecting flights from Europe and the other parts of the World. 10.2. Inland Port at BoankraWork has started on the proposed Inland Port at Boankra. The contractor, Messrs New Bridge Construction Company Ltd. has started site clearing and fencing. During my recent tour of the Ejisu/Juaben District, I visited the site and work was progressing steadily. The work is to be done in phases. Phase I will commence by May 2003 at the cost of 10mllion dollars.The establishment of the Inland Port has quite enormous benefits not only to the country, but also to our neighbouring Countries. Certainly, it will provide access to land-locked Countries like Burkina Faso and Mali to evacuate their imports. Their exports may also be channelled through this facility.11.0. KUMASI STREET LIGHTING PROJECTUnder the Regional Capitals' Street Lighting Rehabilitation Programme a contract in the sum of ¢4,113,342,823.99 has been awarded to Messrs Simms Electrical Engineering Ltd. Meanwhile, the amount of ¢4.1billion has been released and work has commenced on the Santasi-Roundabout-Ahenema Kokoben and Kejetia-Suame New Road Projects.12.0.PROPOSED CAR PARKFinding a convenient parking space is becoming an increasing problem within the Kumasi Metroplis especially within the Central Business District (CBD). Sometimes, one has to drive around an area several times before finding a place to park.The high land values within the CBD make it expedient to consider a multi-storey car parking. Plans are far advanced for the construction of a multi storey car park at Adum in Kumasi. This will go a long way to ease traffic congestion in the city and provide parking space for vehicles. The project is estimated to cost ¢3.7billion.13.0.MANHYIA PALACE PROJECTS13.1 Otumfuo Education Fund and the Golden Development Holding Co.Within the short period of 3 years of his ascension to the Golden Stool, Otumfuo Dr Dr Dr Osei Tutu II Asantehene has placed the Ashanti region on the world map through the establishment of the Otumfuo Education Fund and Health Scheme. He has also established the Golden Development Holding Company, which inter-alia, is to mobilize resources to establish the Asanteman Bank and other job generating ventures.The Company is to invest in these venturesi. Commercial Bankii. Saw dust briquette factoryiii. Medical Diagnostic Centreiv. Second Cycle International Collegev. First Class Hotel with International Conference Centre facilities vi. Joint Venture Commercial Agricultural Project in the Afram Plains.The above projects are to be implemented immediately the public floatation of shares in the Golden Development Holding Company is completed. Feasibility reports on most of the above listed projects have been completed. 13.2.Partnership with Traditional Authorities' ProjectsFor the first time in the operations of the World Bank it has decided to grant a loan facility of 5million dollars to the traditional authorities in Ashanti (Manhyia Palace) through the RCC. My administration has submitted the proposed loan through the Minister of Finance to the cabinet for onward submission to Parliament for approval. Already IDA has provided an amount of 216,300 dollars for the preparation of proposals and recommendations for implementationThe project will provide basic infrastructure such as classroom, teachers' quarters, libraries and toilet facilities for 41 deprived communities in the Region.14.0.VISITS BY HEADS OF STATE AND OTHER DIGNITARIESThe Region has been privileged to receive other Heads of State who through their own desire decided to visit the Region and Manhyia Palace. Among such dignitaries are Laurent Gbagbo of Cote D'Ivoire, Blaise Campaore of Burkina Faso, Alpha Omar Konare, President of Mail, the UN Secretary General, His Excellency Kofi Annan, the Commonwealth Secretary General, Prince and Princess Alexander Williams of Netherlands, Mrs Obasanjo, the President of the World Bank (Africa Division), President of the African Development Bank and the EU Commissioner for Development and Human Rights as well as other High Commissioners and Ambassadors.15.0.CHALLENGES AND HOW THEY ARE BEING ADDRESSED15.1. Challenges The main challenges that face the region are:i.) Chieftaincy and land disputes: Rival claimants to stools and land have been a bane on development in the Region.ii.) Bush fires: These have become rampant especially in the savanna zone of the region i.e. Afram Plains portion, where the ecosystem is already fragile. The perennial bush fires have caused wanton destruction to farms, stored food and even properties.iii.) Illegal timber felling has also been going on in the forest areas. iv.) Activities of the alien herdsmen. The cattle of these aliens do not only destroy farms and properties, but some of the herdsmen physically molest residents. 7.2.Addressing the Challengesi. Chieftaincy and Land DisputesOtumfuo the Asantehene has done a lot to reduce these to the barest minimum. The Regional Security Committee (REGSEC) under my Chairmanship has also been proactive in stemming violent clashes that could have resulted between feuding factions and contesting parties.ii. Bush firesThe education campaigns embarked upon by District Assemblies and the activities of regional fire volunteer squads have led to the reduction in the incidence of bush fires in the Region within the past year.iii. Illegal Timber fellinga. The joint Military/Police/Forestry Task Force set up to combat, arrest and prosecute offenders has helped to reduce the activities of illegal chain saw operations considerably in the Region.b. Following allegations that some police personnel were involved in clandestinely aiding some chain-saw operators with vehicles to facilitate their operations the Ashanti Regional co-ordinating Council appointed a four member Committee on 29th July 2002 to investigation the incident.c. The Committee submitted its report on the 22nd November 2002and the Regional Co-ordinating Council is studying the report to act on its recommendations.iv.Activities of the Allien herdsmenThe operations of the Fulani herdsmen in the Ashanti Region portion of the Afram Plains (Asante Akim North and South, Ejura Sekyedumase, Sekyere East and West) became a security threat to the residents. The REGSEC mobilised resources from the affected districts and with the support of the military restored law and order and confined the herdsmen and their cattle to restricted areas. I held a meeting with the leaders of the Fulani herdsmen and they agreed to provide alternative sources of drinking water for the communities i.e sinking boreholes. They also agreed to contribute money to fence areas allocated to them for the cattle to graze.16.0 ENSURING PEACE AND SECURITY IN THE REGIONMr. Chairman, development can only take place when there is peace and order in the region. Ashanti Region has been relatively peaceful over the past two years. However, the Region experienced some incidents of security concern but the Regional Security Committee lived up to expectation.i.) Early this year the impasse between the artisans (at the Suame Magazine) and their leadership degenerated into a serious security problem, which has been resolved peacefully.ii. The spate of armed robberies has also subsided considerably due to the alertness and effective measures put in place by REGSEC.iii. The conflict between the Al-suna and Tijania at Effiduase in Sekyere East District, which has been persisting for some time, is now under control. iv. REGSEC has directed the Metro/District Assemblies to support the Police and other Security Agencies in their patrols with logistics. 17.0. OUTSTANDING ACHIEVEMENTSi.) One outstanding achievement made during my 2-year stay in office is that there has been a closer collaboration between the Regional Co-ordinating Council (representing Government at the regional level) and the agencies under the private sector as well as Manhyia Palace i.e. Nananom, who are the custodians of land and our culture. This relationship is yielding good dividends.ii.) In January 2002, the Regional Co-ordinating Council prepared a document titled “Operationalising the NPP Manifesto- a Blueprint for the Socio-Economic Development of Ashanti for 2002-2004”. This Blueprint, which is based on the NPP manifesto serves as the cornerstone for the region's development. It identifies programmes and projects in the areas of Agriculture, Education, Health, Infrastructure, Rural development, Industries and Tourism that are being implemented to change the socio-economic lives of its residents.18.0C O N C L U S I O NMr. Chairman, Ladies and Gentlemen of the Press, I have outlined the potentials of Ashanti Region and the efforts being made by my Administration to bring development to the Region and ensure positive change in the lives of its people. I wish to end my presentation here and invite questions, suggestions and comments from the floor. Thank you for your attention.