Two controversial contracts under the Savannah Accelerated Development Authority (SADA) – the guinea fowl (akomfem) rearing and tree-planting projects – have been terminated by the Mahama Administration following public pressure.
The projects were managed by the Asongtaba Cottage Industries, a subsidiary of AGAMS Group of Companies, owned by local ICT mogul Roland Agambire of rLG fame. About GH¢50million had been blown on the projects with nothing to show for it.
RLG itself suffered contract abrogation under the corruption-riddled Ghana Youth Employment and Entrepreneurial Development Agency (GYEEDA).
The abrogation left a sour taste in the mouths of Ghanaians, as no mention was made of retrieving the GH¢50million paid to Asongtaba for failing to execute the projects.
Government admitted that the projects had failed, directing SADA as a body to establish “systems and mechanisms for monitoring and supervising these projects to ensure that the state received value for money.”
A statement issued at the Presidency and signed by Senior Communications Advisor and Presidential Spokesman, Ben Dotsei Malor, dated January 31, 2013 (sic), said, “President John Mahama has instructed the Board of the Savannah Accelerated Development Authority (SADA) to act in consultation with the Attorney General to terminate two contracts entered into with the Asongtaba Cottage Industries.”
The directive was said to have been the result of the submission of a report by the Minister responsible for Development Authorities, Dr Mustapha Ahmed, regarding the two projects which operated under SADA.
A whopping amount of GH¢50million was said to have been invested in both the guinea fowl and tree-planting projects with GH¢15million going into the guinea fowl rearing while GH¢35million went into the supposed tree-planting project which was carried out during the dry season.
The two projects yielded barely 200 fowls while all the trees planted with GH¢35 million died off because they were planted during a dry unforgiving hamartan season of the Northern Region when nobody planted crops. Curiously, the trees were not watered.
This left a wow effect on the lips of most Ghanaians and especially Members on the Minority side of Parliament were livid about the use of the money since it yielded no returns.
Even though the report noted that the projects were viable and held the potential for the creation of a significant number of jobs in the fragile savannah area, the President had requested the “SADA board to hold consultations with the Forestry Commission and the Ministry of Local Government to work out a strategy for the proper implementation of the afforestation and tree-growing project on a decentralized basis.”
The President also directed the SADA board to immediately strengthen its systems of accountability to ensure that the Authority was able to account for any resources committed by the government for the accelerated development of the Savannah areas.
This was in view of an aspect of the report which noted that sufficient expertise existed within the Savannah Research Institute and the University for Development Studies to redesign and implement a strategy that could properly harness the potential of the guinea fowl industry and turn it into a major income earner for the people of the Savannah belt.
The abrogation of the Guinea Fowl and afforestation contracts come close on the heels of a recent similar cancellation of some business modules of the company with the government under the GYEEDA.
The contracts scrapped earlier were the company’s youth training module and Asongtaba Cottage Industry & Exchange Programme (ACI&EP).
The abrogation of these contracts had come after several months of protests by the general public about multi-million dollar projects that bordered on possible corruption with no returns to the State.
Executive Director of the Asongtaba Cottage Industry and Exchange Programme, Henry Kanga, had told DAILY GUIDE that GH¢15million was for training and processing plant.
He said the Sumbrungu Guinea Fowl Farm in the Upper East Region would have a Processing Unit to be provided by the SADA-Asongtaba Guinea Fowl Production and Marketing Company.
When this was done, the farm would have a Birds Production Unit and a Processing Unit, which would be replicated in the same size across four other SADA beneficiary areas, being the Upper West, Northern Region, the northern parts of Brong-Ahafo and Volta regions by the end of August 2013.
As at the end of 2013 nothing had been done.
By Charles Takyi-Boadu