The final report of the West Africa Growth Ring Corridor Master Plan (WAGRIC) that contains the action plans and strategies aimed at achieving spatial and economic integration of the sub-region has been presented.
The plan aims at enhancing infrastructural and transport connectivity between Ghana, Togo, Burkina Faso and Cote d’Ivoire, to stimulate free movement of people, goods and services, and ultimately, promote sub-regional trade to engender economic growth and alleviate poverty.
It seeks to ensure transport connectivity along the corridors of Abidjan-Ouagadougou, Accra-Ouagadougou, Lome- Ouagadougou and Abidjan-Lagos, and ensure a balanced economic development between coastal and inland areas of the four countries to solve transport bottlenecks.
At a dissemination workshop on the final report in Accra, on Wednesday, Professor George Gyan-Baffour, the Minister of Planning, said the strategies and development plans outlined in the WAGRIC master plan were formulated in accordance with the sub-regional and national plans of the four countries.
He said the programmes and projects that would emanate from the master plan would be reflected in the development plans of the nation through the annual budget plans of the Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs).
Prof. Gyan-Baffour, who is the Chairman of the Technical and Steering Committee of the WAGRIC Master Plan, said the completion of the report marked the beginning of the real work of implementation.
He commended the National Development Planning Commission, the Ministry of Roads and Highways and the Ministry of Finance for the effective coordination and technical roles they played in preparing the plan.
He, therefore, called for the co-operation and support of the MDAs, civil society organisations, private sector entities, development partners, financial institutions and the media, to play meaningful roles towards the realisation of the plan.
He said President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo had articulated on several platforms the need for the countries in the sub-region, to harness their markets potentials to engender economic growth, wealth creation and prosperity for their peoples.
Prof. Gyan-Baffour noted that, the population of the sub-region was estimated at 350 million and projected to hit 500 million in the next 20 years; therefore, it presented a fertile ground for intra-regional trade.
On February 23, 2015, the Japan International Co-operation Agency (JICA) signed an agreement with the Government of Ghana for the preparation of the master plan.
The plan is an output of the TICAD V initiative held in Yokohama in June 2013, which the Japanese government decided to develop 10 strategic master plans in Africa using the Japanese experience to spur economic growth in the sub-region.
The Japanese government, through its development agency, JICA, has developed similar master plans in Eastern Corridor from Mombasa, Kenya to landlocked countries like Uganda, Rwanda and South Sudan and the Nacala Corridor linking Northern Mozambique to its neighbours-Malawi and Zimbabwe.
The Japanese government has also supported the development of international corridors connecting different Asian countries, including Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Thailand and Myanmar, which has attracted investments from Japanese manufacturers and other investors across the world.
Mr Kwame Baffour Awuah, Director at the National Development Planning Commission (NDPC) in charge of Infrastructure Policy, who presented the overview of the report, said the WAGRIC master plan comprised four corridors, including Abidjan-Ouagadougou, Accra-Ouagadougou, Lome- Ouagadougou and Abidjan-Lagos.
He said these corridors were the major connections from the coastal capitals and the principal road networks to the hinterlands.
He said the Government of Ghana accepted the idea of the plan to complement existing development plans, in order to promote investment, trade and reduce poverty among the populace.
Meanwhile, Mr Joshua Mabe, the Programmes Officer at the JICA, told the Ghana News Agency in an interview that, some of the projects under the master plan had already started, with financial support from the Japanese government through its development agency, JICA.
He mentioned the Tema Motorway Roundabout upgrading project (US$50 million), Asotwere Bridge in the Eastern Region, an alternative route to Adomi Bridge (US$100 million) and Bulk Power Point at Graphic Road, Accra (US$40 million).
Mr Mabe added that the Japanese government was also undertaking rice production project and building the capacity of small and medium-scale enterprises (SMEs).