Tamale-French relations gains momentum as north seeks transformation
The Tamale-Bordeaux friendship and cooperation has gained another level of momentum with a visit by a high powered 34-member French delegation led by Mr Pierre Goguet, President of Bordeaux Chamber of Commerce and Industry.
Bordeaux, the world’s major wine industry capital is a strategic and significant business centre in France, famous for its wine, tourism and its regeneration into a smart and sustainable city.
Other leading members of the delegation are Mr Pierre de Gaëtan Njikam Mouliom, the Deputy Mayor of Bordeaux and Mr Bernard Lauret, the Mayor of Saint Émilion. In addition to the two are local government leaders from the Bordeaux Municipal Council, investors and academics.
The partnership seeks to complement the Ghana Government’s efforts to transform Tamale, the Northern Regional Capital into a beautiful city for their mutual benefit.
The five-day visit, which is in response to an invitation by President John Dramani Mahama, during his visit to France in October, 2015, would pave the way for increased French investment and cooperation in Ghana.
The delegation’s scheduled meetings with the Tamale Metropolitan Assembly (TMA) Authorities and President Mahama in Tamale ,was shifted to Accra due to bad harmattan which prevented local flights from Accra to Tamale.
Mr Abdul-Rahman Abdul-Hanan Gundado, Tamale Metropolitan Chief Executive, in his address to formally welcome the French delegation to Ghana, said as part of efforts to create congenial atmosphere for businesses, the TMA has acquired a 42-acre land, which would serve as a free zone for business establishments.
He said the Tamale International Airport would become operational by September, and this would open up the northern sector to international investors and also lessen the number of flight hours to get to Ghana and vice versa.
He said due to the importance of education, 70 per cent of the Assembly’s 2016 budget is dedicated to educational infrastructural improvement.
Mr Gundado identified promoting women in vegetables farming as one of the key areas in reducing poverty among the people and also making Ghana self-sufficient in vegetables production.
Mr Goguet called for the strengthening of trade and economic ties between the two countries but expressed disappointment in not being able to reach Tamale due to the bad weather.
Professor Herbert Dei, Dean of the Graduate School of the University of Development Studies, said the establishment of the University 24 years ago has contributed greatly to accelerate development in the North, and the university is set to add a School of Engineering as well as a teaching farm.
He further appealed for assistance from government and corporate institutions to help the University set up a printing press to facilitate smooth academic work.
Prof Mariama Awumbila, a board member of the Savanna Accelerated Development Authority (SADA), said the Authority provides a framework for the comprehensive and long-term development of the Northern Savannah Ecological Zone.
She said SADA is the vehicle through which Ghana can be propelled into a high middle income country; because the areas under its jurisdiction are the poorest in the country; declaring that “irrigation is the game changer for SADA”.
She said the SADA belt which covers the three northern regions and the northern parts of the Brong Ahafo and Volta Regions; forms 55 per cent of the nation’s land area and has huge potential for investment in irrigation farming, water transport and mining.
Dr Roger A. L. Kanton, Principal Research Scientist at the Savanna Agriculture Research Institute, said the Institute is living up to its mandate: last year, it was able to release high yielding and drought resistant maize and millet varieties.
Mrs Johanna Odonkor Svanikier, Ghana’s Ambassador to France and Portugal, said beside the huge agricultural potential of the SADA zone, there abounds a huge tourism industry such as the Mole National Park