Nkwantanang-Ahinase, a farming community in the Kwahu East District is set to host the biggest infrastructural project Kwahu has ever seen and identified by investors within the Kwahu Business Community as one of the five(5) growth poles for accelerated development within the Kwahu area; Kwahu Airport Limited. On March 10th, 2022 the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) granted an environmental permit for construction to commence on this mammoth project.
Eight(8) months ago while speaking at the launch of the Kwahu Airport Limited project to traditional authorities, stakeholders and constituents, Honorable Bryan Acheampong, MP for Abetifi Constituency revealed that the estimated growth rate within the Kwahu area calls for a conscious effort to create jobs for between 50,000 – 100, 000 people outside of the traditional sources of employment namely; farming, government sector jobs and trading. He intimated that the projections and forecast for Kwahu for the next 20 – 30 years should begin today if the present and future needs of our people are to be met.
On the growth poles identified through research conducted as far back as ten(10) years ago, Hon. Acheampong pointed out five(5) areas which have been identified for accelerate development and job creation. The first growth pole identified is the Kwahu Airport Limited project, the second is the Rock City Hotel project, the third is Local Tourism Development, the fourth is the development of world class sports facilities and the fifth and final growth poles is the development of educational infrastructure and expansion of existing ones.
Speaking on local tourism development, Honorable Bryan Acheampong stated that Kwahu has the highest concentration of tourism sites per kilometer square in Ghana with close to about 50 sites most of which remain untapped and can be developed to attract tourists from across the globe and also create jobs for locals.
The nature of the landscape in Kwahu from the rolling mountains and the water bodies makes it ideal for tourism, recreation and leisure. The tourism potential is the bedrock for accelerated inclusive development and investments are being made in this sector to drive growth.
Expansion of educational infrastructure
On the expansion of existing educational infrastructure, Hon. Acheampong listed the educational institutions within the Abetifi Constituency consisting of the Presbyterian University College(PUC), Abetifi Technical Training College, Abetifi Vocational Training College(under Ministry of Employment and Labour), Abetifi Teacher Training College(ABETICO) and also a Senior High School.
Expanded to the Kwahu East District he counted ten(10) Senior High Schools and four(4) Technical and Vocational Schools. Expanded further to the greater Kwahu area to include Kwahu West and South and Afram Plains North and South Constituencies; he counted about 30 Senior High Schools making Kwahu an education hub which can be tapped to attract a lot of young people of school going age to Schools in Kwahu.
Development of sports infrastructure
On the development of sports infrastructure, Hon. Acheampong pointed out that Kwahu being a mountainous area and about 700 meters above sea level gives it the perfect climatic conditions for the development and training of world class athletes just like what is seen in most East African countries like Kenya, Tanzania and Ethiopia. The development of sports infrastructure will also create jobs for the local population especially the youth and contribute to sports tourism.
He continued that investments are being made in this sector as well and the benefits of these investments will be witnessed by the community in the shortest possible time.
Rock City Hotel
Hon. Bryan Acheampong speaking on the decision to situate Rock City Hotel one of the single biggest investments in Kwahu to date in Kwahu Nkwatia said the hotel is on course to rolling out several new amenities and on its way to becoming the biggest hotel in Africa and the 48th biggest hotel in the world when completed.
Speaking on the impact of the hotel on the local economy, Hon. Acheampong stated that at full capacity of 3000 rooms and 6000 guests, the hotel will require a thriving poultry industry to supply its kitchen with about 12,000 eggs every single day based on conservative calculations, this will translate into a massive boost in the poultry sector in the Kwahu.
Speaking further on the impact of the hotel on the local economy Hon. Acheampong stated that the hotel had negotiated with tomato farmers in Hwehwe a farming community near the Afram River to be off-takers of all the tomatoes they produce for the hotel’s kitchen from this planting season and going into the future. The construction of the hotel is also providing opportunities for growth in the Agricultural sector in Kwahu.
Commenting on the number of direct jobs the hotel has created since it opened it’s doors to guests about a year ago he revealed that at the the current capacity the hotel employs about 280 workers excluding construction staff. He continued that the number is expected to rise to 700 within a year and 1500 in 2 years. He clarified that these numbers does not include suppliers and other ancillary service staff.
It is estimated that over 20,000 people will benefit directly and indirectly from the hotel in the area of job creation when fully operational.
Kwahu Airport Limited
The idea that there is going to be an airport in Kwahu sounded alien to many ears when the news first made headlines about a year ago however, on 10th March, 2022 the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) granted an environmental permit for construction to begin on the Kwahu Airport Limited project, the first growth pole identified by investors.
Hon. Bryan Acheampong admitted that this project is the most ambitious and audacious but the impact on the economies of Kwahu, Ghana and Africa as a whole are enormous.
Explaining what the project entails he indicated that the whole of Africa does not have a flight training school which is one of the business opportunities identified and the Kwahu Airport Limited project aims to provide a solution for this. He pointed out that a flight training school will come with accompanying maintenance, servicing and security jobs which will require the training of local content to take advantage of.
Hon. Acheampong also indicated that the Airport will serve as an air freight port for the export of farm produce and other goods from the northern regions and the Afram Plains area providing exporters an alternative to Kotoka air freight port and the Tema Harbour.
He stated that the proximity of the airport to the Volta Lake which is about 500 meters away from the site is a huge advantage that can be exploited for both water and air transport of heavy machinery. He continued that supply chain of these farm produce will also require the building of warehouses and other storage facilities which will create even more jobs.
On a global scale, Hon. Acheampong revealed that the construction of the Kwahu Airport and other ancillary services including the warehouses and sorting facilities will attract global fast food chains like KFC, Burger King and McDonald for the air freight of their stocks from the USA and Europe to their markets in Africa. He indicated that this will bring in their wake opportunities for logistical and freight supporting jobs which do not exist currently on the African continent.
According to Hon. Acheampong these global franchises strategically locate their central processing and sorting warehouse facilities close to airports to help them reduce production costs and increase their margins. He pointed out that such a service is what the Kwahu Airport will provide because of it’s strategic location, warehousing facilities and the length of the runaway which is projected to be one of the longest of any airport in Africa.
Emphasizing on the importance of the airport project, Hon. Acheampong stressed that global supply chain behemoths like DHL, FEDEX and Amazon all require processing, storage and sorting facilities in Africa and the proximity of such facilities to airports is key to attracting them to set up shop here in Africa. He indicated that because of the nature of the margins of these businesses they cannot afford to situate warehousing facilities far from airports.
He continued that the intention is to attract these global brands and provide them with the options they require to build up and improve their supply chain distribution systems on the African continent.
Another point of importance Hon. Acheampong touched on based on research conducted by the Kwahu Airport Limited project developers was of a more global outlook in it’s approach to providing essential emergency services. He noted that the warehouses used to store relief items like food and clothing by the World Food Program(WFP) and other international organizations in case of disasters and othe emergencies on the Africa continent and other countries in the western hemisphere are located in Europe and the United Arab Emirates(UAE). According to the research findings these facilities are all strategically located close to airports for easy distribution to disaster zones when needed.
The Kwahu Airport Limited project is strategically positioned to attract the WFP and other international organizations and disaster management bodies to move some of their strategic stock unto the African continent breaking into the global supply chain in disaster relief items storage which will invariably translate into jobs for local people.
The Kwahu Airport Limited project also will include the development of aircraft hangers or plane parking services. According to Hon. Acheampong this is one aspect of the project which investors are looking to take advantage of to deliver a much needed service in the aviation industry.
He pointed out that during times of crisis in the aviation industry such as resulted when the Boeing 747 Max was grounded for maintenance services worldwide, Africa could not take advantage of this opportunity because we do not have airport facilities that can accommodate such numbers of aircrafts.
He revealed that presently it costs about $300 dollars to park a plane in an aircraft hangers for a day and the South American Countries like Brazil are making windfall profits from this business of parking planes.
Expanding further on the opportunities in the aviation sector he stressed that the job creation potentials in the services and maintenance of aircrafts industry are enormous and local professionals can be trained to take advantage. The potential for foreign exchange earnings in this sector can also not be under stated.
Honorable Bryan Acheampong also spoke on the potential for local, sub-regional and even international air travel through the Kwahu Airport.
These are the key areas the project will benefit the local community, Ghana and Africa as a whole. The estimated time of completion of the project is between 5 – 7 years from the start of construction.
When asked about the critics of such a huge projects in a deprived community like Nkwantanang-Ahinase which does not have electricity or drinking water Hon. Acheampong stated that developing massive projects like the Kwahu Airport will naturally come along with all the basic amenities to better the living conditions of the local community members.
He also acknowledged that the road ahead will be tough but with determination, focus and proper planning these developmental initiatives will become a reality. He ended by thanking the chiefs and the various stakeholders present at the meeting.
>>>The writer is the Communications and Media Relations Coordinator of Kwahu Professionals Network (KPN). He is a Corporate Communications, Management Consultant and a news editor with Think Ghana Media www.think.com.gh Instagram & Twitter: @longmanghana Facebook: Kwaku Whetstone