NewsWest AfricaGhana to get a $1.2bn ultra-modern ecotourism park in its capital city


Posted on Monday, 22 August 2016 11:12

Ghana to get a $1.2bn ultra-modern ecotourism park in its capital city

By Dasmani Laary in Accra

Visitors walking along the canopy walk, a series of foot bridges suspended 30 meters in the air over the treetops, in Kakum National Park, Ghana. File Photo©Olivier Asselin/AP/SIPAGhana has decided to convert one of its forest reserves – Achimota Forest – into a world-class recreational facility and a major tourism destination hub in West Africa at a cost of $1.2 billion.

The billion-dollar scheme involves construction of amusement parks, orchards, arboretum, wildlife safaris, museums, eco-commercial enclaves and eco-lodges with little disruption to natural vegetation cover.

This development will preserve the only green belt in Accra 

The Accra Eco Park project is specially designed to have a spiritual enclave to cater for the needs of worshippers, whose activities bring more than 180,000 people annually to the virgin forest.

The project is seen as a major boost to the West African country's tourism sector, as it seeks to shore up foreign currency income, create job opportunities and keep encroachers at bay from the forest reserve to safeguard its ecological integrity.

The ecotourism hub, which will built in phases, is being constructed by Ghana's Forestry Commission and a private partner, Aikan Capital Limited, and is scheduled to be completed within seven years.

"This development will preserve the only green belt in Accra [Ghana's capital city], 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," President John Dramani Mahama was quoted saying in speech read on his behalf.

Authorities say there plans for to build high seating capacity conference rooms to be situated outside the main forest zone.

Ghana's Minister of Lands and Natural Resources, Nii Osah Mills, said the Achimota Forest Reserve had long been identified as having outstanding potential for tourism development in the country due to its strategic location around the capital.

"The Accra Eco Park development has 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 said.

The park will add to the West African nation's foremost national parks - Kakum in the Central and Mole in the Northern regions that appeal to thousands of tourists annually.

The ultramodern eco-park project targets about 2 per cent of visitors to the West Africa sub-region, attracting more than 600,000 visitors to the tourist site annually.

Officials say more than 4,000 jobs will be created during the construction stage and about 2,500 direct jobs when in operation, with the country's forestry commission expected to scoop around 20 per cent of revenue earned.

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

Ghana signed a lease agreement with Aikan Capital, a Ghanaian company, in February this year to design, develop, operate and maintain the forest reserve in a world-class ecological.

Achimota Forest, though an important national asset, has over the years been saddled with grave threat of encroachment and degradation despite its strategic position.

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