President John Mahama has expressed satisfaction with the accountability systems put in place by the management of the restructured Savanna Accelerated Development Authority (SADA).
He said having come out strongly from the initial financial maladministration, SADA had positioned itself as a true development pole for the Savanna Zone and added that he was now satisfied that every money invested in SADA would be put to good use.
The coalition of civil society organisations (CSOs) in the SADA Ecological Zone put together a series of fora to allow presidential candidates in the 2016 election to share their visions on SADA with stakeholders.
Yesterday was the turn of President Mahama, who had been campaigning in the Upper East Region, to address critical issues on the development initiative.
Describing SADA as one of the boldest attempts at transforming the north, the President noted that initially a lot of things went wrong because there were no internal systems of accounting.
"Now I do believe we are on the right track and I will continue to give SADA my utmost support," he assured the people.
The President indicated that contrary to the constant bashing of SADA in the media, the authority was contributing to the socio-economic development of people in the Savannah Zone.
"SADA has done more work in furthering its objectives. A lot of its work is intangible," he stated.
"If you don't see pick-up vehicles running around, it does not mean SADA is not working. SADA is working," he told the forum.
President Mahama mentioned a number of feasibility studies conducted by SADA and added that several intangible projects had been undertaken to attract investment into the zone.
He disclosed that SADA had signed an Memorandum of Understanding with a Chinese company for a full integrated value chain development of cotton in the Savanna Zone.
“This will be one of the biggest integrated projects ever to be undertaken in the Savanna Zone,” he added.
He suggested that SADA must target women in its interventions to enable them to improve on their income generation.
“That was why the government decided to set up shea nut processing factories in the three Northern regions to provide a ready market for women in the shea nut value chain,” he said.
Already, one of the factories is working at Buipe in the Northern Region and the President assured the forum that in his second term in office, similar factories would be established in the Upper East and Upper West regions.
The Chief Executive Officer of SADA, Dr Charles Abugri, said the initiative was now much stronger.
"It's not what is usually said in the media," he stated.
He said over the last two years, SADA had been strategising on transforming the ecological zone through especially the construction of dams.
He expressed hope that a Legislative Instrument (LI) would be passed by the next Parliament to give legal backing to the authority.
The Executive Director of Coalition of CSOs on SADA Ecological Zone, Mr Bismark Adongo, expressed concern that although Ghana had made significant progress in reducing poverty, poverty still prevailed in the three northern regions.