Ghanaian President, John Agyekum Kufuor, yesterday laid the foundation stone to formally mark the commencement of work on the 30 million-dollar Presidential Complex to provide a befitting residence for the Presidency at the Flagstaff House in Accra.
The Complex consists of official residence for the President and offices and is being funded from an India Government concessionary loan. The loan has a-50 per cent grant element with repayment of spread over 25 years. The loan has an in-built moratorium of five years. Shapooji Pallonji Company Limited, an Indian construction firm, is undertaking the project scheduled for completion in 18 months.
President Kufuor called on all well-meaning Ghanaians to envision the project as a national heritage, which would in time help to define who they were and what they portrayed to the world.
He said with only two years left in government, it should become abundantly clear that "I am not undertaking this project for myself. Rather the decision to build this complex is based on a vision beyond my own selfish interest."
President Kufuor said he was convinced that future generations would come to applaud the foresight of the Government. Making a strong case for Ghana to have such a monumental edifice, he said almost every society of the world had a special focal place of convergence, a place, which defined the people and embodied their ideals.
"Such a place becomes a rallying point in both times of joy and difficulties. In many places, this also becomes a major tourist attraction. Our sister country Nigeria, has its Aso Rock, where the President of the Federation lives".
"Togo, Cote d'Ivoire and Burkina Faso all boast of deliberately and purposefully constructed impressive Presidential edifices. The Americans have the White House, which to them, symbolises everything that Americans hold dear. Great Britain has the Buckingham Palace for the Queen and the 10 Downing Street, the official residence of the Prime Minister. France has the Elysee Palace for the President."
President Kufuor queried, "Is it not surprising that Ghana, which can be said to be the first born of Africa has not as yet, after 50 years of sovereign statehood, been able to build a befitting residence for its Head of State?"
He said the idea of modernising Accra was conceived with the Flagstaff House, which was the residence of Ghana's first President, Osagyefo Dr Kwame Nkrumah, as the nerve centre of the city.
"Plans have been prepared in pursuit of this vision. With the realisation of this project, which is formally commencing today, the hope is that the plans for modernisation of the city will become unfurled and their execution launched to transform its image to befit our national capital."
Mr Anand Sharma, India's Minister for External Relations, described the project as a shinning example and symbol of India-Ghana relations and partnership for development. He reminded the contractors of the special importance attached to the project and asked that they should not only complete it on schedule, but also ensure quality delivery.