Work begins on $1.2 billion Accra Eco Park

Accra, Aug. 21, GNA – The construction of the
$1.2 billion Accra Eco park is underway, following a sod cutting ceremony to
signal the beginning of the project.

The ecotourism project, to be done in phases,
is being undertaken by the Forestry Commission and its private partner, Aikan
Capital Limited and is scheduled for completion between the next five and seven
years.

The first phase of the project is expected to
be completed in 24 months.

President John Dramani Mahama, in a speech
read on his behalf, said government had decided to convert the Achimota Forest
into a world-class recreational facility and a major tourism destination in
West Africa rather than allow further encroachment and dumping of waste into
the forest.

“This development will preserve the only green
belt in Accra, and allow the forest to continue to function as a carbon sink
and clean the air and at the same time create jobs and business opportunities
for the private sector,” he said.

The project involves the construction of
amusement parks, orchards, arboretum, wildlife safaris, museums, eco-commercial
enclaves and eco-lodges but with little disruption in the natural vegetation as
possible.

It will also have a spiritual enclave to cater
for spiritual/worship activities that bring more than 180,000 people annually
to the Achimota Forest.

There are also plans for high seating capacity
conference rooms to be sited outside the main forest area.

Nii Osah Mills, the Minister of Lands and
Natural Resources, said the Achimota Forest Reserve had long been recognised as
having outstanding potential for tourism development, considering its location
in the city.

“The Accra Eco-Park development has,
therefore, been conceived to provide a unique opportunity to demonstrate to the
business community and the public that ecotourism is a viable, environmentally
friendly, employment-creating, sustainable income-generating venture,” he
stated.

It will add to the country’s major national
parks—Kakum in the Central Region and Mole in the Northern Region.

Mr Samuel Afari Dartey, the Chief Executive of
the Forestry Commission, said there was the need to undertake innovative
ecotourism development as a means to safeguard the ecological integrity of the
forest.

He said the Eco-Park Project will target about
2 per cent of all visitors to West Africa Sub-region, attracting more than
600,000 visitors to the Accra Eco-Park annually.

The project will create more than 4,000 jobs
during the construction phase and about 2,500 direct jobs during the
implementation phase, he said, adding that the Forestry Commission would
receive about 20 per cent of revenue generated.

In addition, the Government of Ghana will
receive revenue in the form of corporate taxes, PAYE and social security
payments (SSNIT) and other indirect taxes.

For the private sector numerous business
opportunities will be created thus enhancing the contribution of the forestry
sector to national development.

The Chief Executive Officer of Aikan Capital
Limited, Mr Oheneba Otchere, said the project makes room for the planting of
more trees to enhance the forest cover.

The lease agreement allows Aikan Capital to
design, build and operate the facility for 10 years.

GNA

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