Posted by: rumnet | February 8, 2010

SADA is Open to All

SADA is Open to All: Investors, civil society, public and private entities

By Abdallah Kassim

Published in the February 2010 edition of The ADVOCATE

The Savannah Accelerated Development Authority (SADA) is geared towards mobilizing funds for prospective private, public and civil society organisations that buy into its plans and strategies for the development of the northern savannah ecological belt, says Dr. Sulley Gariba.

According to Dr. Gariba, SADA is slightly different from its precursor, the Northern Development Initiative (NDI) under the New Patriotic Party government. He said NDI was a programme: “a series of actions being formulated to be managed and implemented in a given time period. The SADA is both a strategy and an institution which has the authority to enforce.”

Dr. Gariba is the Development Policy Advisor in the Office of the Vice-President and one of the co-ordinators of SADA. SADA is to provide a development strategy to bridge the development gap between the northern savannah ecological belt and the rest of the country. SADA’s operational area is the Upper East, Upper West and Northern regions and 10 districts from the north of Volta and Brong Ahafo regions.

Dr. Gariba noted that SADA has all it takes to attract lucrative investments to its operational area. He assured investors of reliable water supply, possibly for year-round cultivation; stable and secure land for both big and small investors, human resources and labour and infrastructure to transport products to markets and other destinations.

He said SADA has three main objectives. The first one is to formulate a strategic direction to guide developmental action and accelerate development in the northern savannah ecological belt. He noted that in spite of the various interventions by Non-Governmental Organisations, District Assemblies, Ministries, Donors and other international development agencies, there seem not to be a plan that is targeted at bridging the gap.

“So SADA is a strategy that many stakeholders could buy into, to accelerate development in the area,” says Dr. Gariba.

For example, Dr. Gariba said, the Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MOFA) could have its national strategy, however, it would not be driven by only that strategy but also the strategy of the ecological zone in which it operates, such as the SADA master plan. This means that if it has been decided in the SADA strategy that agriculture would be driven by agro forestry, peasant-owned fruit trees, economic trees as well as perennial food crops, MOFA could necessarily buy into that strategy.

According to Dr. Gariba, SADA is a funding facility that mobilizes resources to execute its mandate. It is a facility that will serve as additional source of funds besides the regular national budget. “For example, if MOFA buys into SADA’s strategy, and say they are going to help implement it, but the budget they have been given from Accra for the entire MOFA is not enough to implement their own mandate let alone take on this new strategic vision, SADA will mobilize additional budget resources for MOFA.”

He explained further that, “If MOFA was deploying 10,000 hectares of economic trees with food crops and they want to increase it to 20,000 hectares, SADA could provide additional funding in that context. At the same time, any development partner that wishes to contribute funds for a more holistic developmental goal might deposit the fund in SADA to be awarded to various institutions.”

SADA’s second key strategy, DR Gariba adds, is to remove the infrastructural bottlenecks hindering development in the northern savannah ecological area, especially the Upper East, Upper West and Northern regions. The area is strewn with deplorable roads that make it impossible for the three regions to connect to each other easily. Besides, the roads are long and winding as some major rivers and their tributaries flow in places that could have shorten the distance. “So SADA’s second major strategy is to focus on strategic infrastructure: bridges, roads, possibly a railway and most definitely water transport through harnessing the water resources.”

The third strategy is to modernize agriculture. And Dr. Gariba says SADA would take advantage of the world wide investment in climate change to make water less flooding but available year-round for cultivation. It will encourage modern agricultural practices through out- grower schemes that peasant families can take advantage of to enhance their livelihoods; and improve on communication and transportation to ease marketing problems.

Dr. Gariba said further that SADA is open to civil society, public institutions and private entities. It will, initially, invest in entities that are already operating or what people are already doing. However, he said, prospective beneficiaries should be prepared to make commitments in areas that are transformational.

“For instance, SADA will not share money to district assemblies. They will get funds from the common fund to do their plans. But assuming seven districts decide that a road from one end to another leads them to a common resort, say the Daboya river for salt mining, that is too much investment for any one district to do, but see it as a major investment opportunity. They could approach SADA and we will reach an agreement that over the next three years they are setting aside 20% each of their common funds as shareholders to invest in salt mining; could SADA raise the remaining 80% of the investment? SADA could help in providing the start up money.”

Dr. Gariba says civil society organizations could take advantage of SADA by being proactive, because the era of waiting for offers from donors and other funding sources is fading. “Civil Society in the north is very dynamic. In SADA we are actually waiting, and we are waiting almost endlessly, for civil society to engage SADA. Not to engage SADA from the point of view of what we are doing. Civil Society is leading the delivery of 70% of services in the three northern regions. So we are waiting for them to come and say, ‘as we think of the transformation of the north, here is the role we see for civil society.’ And this challenge has been long overdue.”

He added that, “So in thinking about a new paradigm, we should also try to get away from the paradigm that says government will tell us and we will write proposals to get funds from something that has already been cooked and just get the terms of reference and do. Why not cook some yourself and say here is our vision, it is slightly different from the vision SADA is talking about, but here is the way in which we can see ourselves implementing it. We lack the financial resources. SADA itself will have to raise the money from government, donors and from the private sector.”

Dr. Gariba said, “All in all, SADA will consist of no more than 20 employees including drivers and all that. Engagement will be on contract basis. Its staff will comprise a hand full of professionals who will be facilitators and not managers of units. Because if SADA implements, it will be taken the roles of private sector, NGOs and government departments. SADA will just facilitate the process and use the authority that has been given to it by parliament to mobilize the kind of resources that are needed.”

No firm decision has been taken on the location of the headquarters of SADA, but in Dr, Gariba’s opinion the headquarters should be placed in a neutral ground, especially where the action would be, very close to the middle of the three regions; “somewhere beyond Walwale, edging towards the ‘overseas’ area but not too remotely.”

SADA will not have regional offices. The economic planning units of the participating regions will be used for the purpose. “It is the regional planning and coordinating units of the Regional Co-ordinating Councils that will coordinate SADA related activities. It is only when the facility transcends regions and it is a major investment that SADA will coordinate, but not implement. The implementation will be done by NGOs, private sector and some public institutions.”


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