The Minister of Inner City and Zongo Development, Alhaji Abubakar Saddique Boniface, has pledged to lead the agenda in transforming Zongo communities in the country into modern suburbs.
He stated that the ministry would tap into the experiences of South African where the government helped in improving the lives of people living in ghettos through the provision of infrastructure and other basic amenities.
Alhaji Boniface made the pledge during a courtesy call on him by the South African High Commissioner to Ghana, Mrs Lulama Xingwana.
He said the new ministry had the mandate to transform Zongo communities in the country, as well as its inhabitants.
He stated that there were currently about 600 Zongo communities in the country where the people were living in a state of deprivation.
The minister added that his vision for such deprived areas was to economically empower the people, especially women, to enable them to venture into businesses to fend for themselves and their families.
The minister further expressed his commitment to advance education in the Zongos through the establishment of an awards scheme. Under the scheme, hardworking teachers and students who excel in their respective academic works would be rewarded accordingly.
He cited the case of a girl who excelled in the Senior Secondary School Certificate Examination (SSSCE) but could not further her education due to financial constraints.
The minister also announced that plans were underway to create green parks in the various communities where sportsmen and women could congregate for various sporting activities as part of a regenerative health plan.
Alhaji Boniface underscored the need for deeper economic and technical cooperation between the ministry and international institutions to help accelerate the pace of development of Zongos.
For her part, Mrs Xingwana said she relished the cordial relationship between Ghana and South Africa, which dates back to the apartheid era.
According to the ambassador, Ghana was the first country to accommodate a South African Embassy after apartheid and the diplomatic relations between the two countries began in 1994.
She lauded the country’s democratic credentials and said the peaceful atmosphere in Ghana had attracted some South African companies into the country.
Mrs Xingwana said Ghana and South Africa had similar challenges in dealing with deprived communities and mentioned Soweto as one such area in South Africa where the government was providing infrastructure to improve the life of the people.
The High Commissioner assured the minister of her readiness to liaise with the Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture and Housing to see how best to support the Zongo ministry to transform the Zongo communities in Ghana.
Mrs Xingwana further assured Alhaji Boniface that she would explore scholarship opportunities in her country to support brilliant, needy students in the Zongos.
Earlier, Alhaji Boniface conferred with the ambassadors of Germany, Mr Christoph Retzlaff; Colombia, Madam Claudia Turbay Quintero, and Cuba, Mr Pedro Luis González Despaign, on economic and technical cooperation.