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Why SADA needs a Strategic Master Plan

SADA has until recently been in the news for all the wrong reasons due to some faltering steps at its inception. However, the new management of SADA under Mr. Charles Abugre, the Chief Executive, took a different trajectory based on past experience and the need to refocus SADA in a direction that would deliver results, ensure transparency and accountability and ensure that the people of the Northern Savannah Ecological Zone take the steps that would take them out of poverty.

One of the three key strategic objectives of SADA at its inception was to “develop and implement a comprehensive integrated long-term development framework that will guide the transformation” of Athe Northern Savannah Ecological zone. Over the years, this zone has lagged behind the rest of the country with very disturbing poverty indicators that need to be reversed.  In 2015, Savannah Accelerated Development Authority (SADA) launched an in-depth consultative process to generate information and data needed to develop a Long-Term Development Plan complemented by specific sectorial and urban master plans to guide the the rapid transformation of the SADA Zone.

The SADA zone occupies 54.4 % of the land area of Ghana, about one third of Ghana’s population, comprising 64 administrative districts in the Northern, Upper-West, Upper East Regions and the northern parts of the Volta and Brong Ahafo Regions. Although blessed with immense natural resources, resilient and hardworking people, a vibrant culture rooted in thousands of years of history, this area still scores lowest in most human development indicators and inhabit a fragile environment.

As a result, one of the key initiatives of the rebandaged SADA was a  planning process to enable the organisation find answers to the question “What needs to be done, prioritised or done differently, in order to harness the vast resources of the zone for its transformation?

The idea of undertaking the robust master planning process and finding answers to the key questions resulted from SADA’s engagement with the Ghana Institution of Engineers (GhiE) during their 2015 Annual Week Celebra-tion, which was hosted by SADA in March 2015 (SABIF 2015). During this week, the GhiE and other stakeholders including the Town and Country Planning Department debated on ways in which SADA could facilitate a process that would result into a total transformation of the SADA Zone by harnessing the vast resources and energies of the zone to catalyze investments into game-changer initiatives within the Zone.

During SABIF 2015, the keynote speaker, Dr. Victor Koh shared his experience on how Singapore was able to make the right planning with the right planning tools to transform Singapore from a “Third World into a First World Country” within a generation.  At that presentation, SADA Board members and senior staff felt the need to learn from this experience and requested for advice on how to pursue this type of transformational plan-ning in the SADA zone. Surbana Jurong, a premier spatial planning and city modelling institution of the Govern-ment of Singapore was recommended for the purpose.

In May 2015, three consultants from Surbana were invited to a round table discussion at Alisa Hotel, Accra involving  diverse stakeholders including the Deputy Chairperson and members of the Ghana National Planning Commission, the Town and Country Planning Department (TCPD), various experts, Develop-ment Partners, professional institutions such as the  Ghana Institute of Engineers (GhIE) and the Ghana Institution of Planners, Representa-tives of Political Parties, the Minister In-Charge of Public Private Partner-ships, local and international private sector representatives, civil society bodies  and staff and Board members of SADA among others.

This meeting provided baseline information drawing from the interim report of the SADA Zone Spatial Development Frame-work exercise that SADA was conducting with the TCPD, and set the parameters of the master-planning exercise. The meeting endorsed the planning framework presented by the Surbana Jurong representatives, among others.   Subse-quently, the SADA Board requested Surbana International Pte Ltd to present a Service Proposal.

Following several months of negotiations between the legal teams of both parties, and in SADA’s case, over sighted by the office of the Attorney General and Minister for Justice, the contract was signed at the close of 2015.

Surbana Jurong is Singapore’s leading institution on urban planning and design as well as housing. They have expertise in urban planning and design, architecture, engineering, infrastructure and land survey including urban taxation among others. Surbana has several decades of planning and city modelling experiences and they are known for work in Singapore, Hangzhou Gueli Centre in China, the design of Kigali City Master Plan in Rwanda amongst others.

Surbana Jurong has been working closely with Ghanaian professionals; including the Town and Country Planning Depart-ment and in close liaison with the National Develop-ment Planning Com-mission (NDPC) to deliver the following:

Build an integrated data                                                           management system, including high resolution maps

Undertake socio-economic analysis and review planning framework aimed at positioning the zone, developing a unique regional vision and developing specific economic sector and environment plans – ICT, infrastructure and game-changing regional projects.

Design a SADA Regional Concept Plan

Design Tamale City and Buipe City Master Plans, including housing plans, led by the leadership and technical personnel of these cities.

Develop an on-line and GIS-based land management and property tax management system

Develop master plan on line and set up galleries made of the physical models, display panels and multi-media films, of Tamale and Buipe.

Intensively train and       transfer robust modelling and planning skills to at least 10 Ghanaian professionals in this process;

Train the Tamale Metropolitan Assembly and the Buipe Districts to manage their city plans

Provide oversight for a further 2 years

Support SADA’s investment promotion drive

The key outputs of this process are now being finalized as the draft Master Plan. This Master Plan will be serialized to inform and educate the general public about its content and what it seeks to achieve over the coming years. It is expected that this would position the SADA Zone to attract investors and investments, create several opportunities and generate employment and economic growth. For more on this please, kindly visit www.sadagh.org

Salifu Samson Danse is the corporate Affairs +Relationship Coordination at SADA

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