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03.06.2005 Business & Finance

Ambassador Hotel to be rehabilitated

Ambassador Hotel to be rehabilitated

FLASHBACK: April 2003 Saudi Prince expresses interest in Ambassador Hotel Accra, June 3, GNA - Ghana and the Management of the Saudi-based Kingdom Holding Company on Friday signed an agreement for the rehabilitation of the Ambassador Hotel in Accra. Mr Jake Obetsebi-Lamptey, Minister of Tourism and Modernisation of the Capital City, signed on behalf of Ghana while the visiting Prince of Saudi Arabia, Alwaleed Bin Talal Bin Abdul Aziz Alsaud and Chairman of the Company signed for the Company. President John Agyekum Kufuor witnessed the signing ceremony at the Castle, Osu. Briefing newsmen, Mr Obetsebi-Lamptey said the first phase of the project that would raise the status to a five star hotel with all facilities was expected to cost about 30 million dollars. The second phase is expected to cost about 50 million dollars. Mr Obetsebi-Lamptey said with the signing of the agreement work on the ground testing that had begun would continue to be followed by international competition for the design and tender for the contract and actual work to begin. He said it was being envisaged that the project would be completed for the Golden Jubilee celebration of Ghana's Independence and the hosting of the African Union (AU) Summit both in 2007.

Mr Obetsebi-Lamptey said the Government was looking for strategic investors to speed up the establishment of hospitality plants to create jobs and increase earnings from the tourism sector, adding that all efforts would be made to restore Ambassador Hotel to its former glory as a classy hotel.

Mr Obetsebi-Lamptey said considering the status of Prince Alwaleed in international business, he was encouraged by his interest in Ghana, as other major international entrepreneurs were likely to be attracted to the country as a result of his association.

"He is a major player in business and we are excited to have him here. The business community gravitates towards where their compatriots are and it is possible that others would follow him here," he said.

Prince Alwaleed during his first visit to Ghana on April 29, 2003 expressed interest in investing in the reconstruction of the Ambassador Hotel as a joint partner, a venture estimated to attract about 40 million dollars.

Prince Alwaleed, who was conducted round the site of the Hotel in Accra by Mr Obetsebi-Lamptey, therefore, directed his representatives to enter into negotiations with owners of the Hotel for a possible agreement.

The once vibrant Ambassador Hotel, built in 1957 as one of the major state-owned hospitality plants, ceased to operate in the 1980s. The State, Social Security and National Insurance Trust (SSNIT), Grace Investments and Ghana Reinsurance Company were until recently the owners.

The Ambassador Hotel Redevelopment Programme began in 1992 when the Government of Ghana (GOG) entered into a joint-venture partnership with Samed Associates; a company formed and sponsored by the Palestine Liberation Organisation, but was stalled due to technicalities.

Grace Investments took over the interest of Samed and invited SSNIT and Ghana Reinsurance. This brought the investment portfolio to SSNIT (57 per cent), GOG, (27 per cent), Grace investments (11 per cent) and Ghana Reinsurance (five per cent).

Before selling its interest Samed had carried out some renovation works but since it withdrew no further development had taken place thus compelling the Government to re-possess it.

The business holding of the 51-year-old Prince Alwaleed includes Banking, Estate Development, Hospitality, Telecom, Agriculture, Information Technology, Broadcasting, Media, Entertainment, Travel and Automotive Manufacturing.