Renaissance Group, a leading emerging markets investment firm and developer of Africa?s most exciting urban living solutions, in partnership with two traditional authorities in Ghana has jointly ushered in Ghana?s urban future with the unveiling of $600 million urban housing projects to be developed at Kpone-Appolonia-City of Light and the King City, both in the Greater Accra and Western regions.
According to the senior managers of the Group, the projects would redefine the country?s urban landscape and see the construction of mixed-use urban development?s for more than 160,000 Ghana.
The two projects which are due to start in 2013 and complete over a period of 10 years are expected to create new growth points to ease the current congestion in major cities and urban areas in Ghana.
The King City will be developed on nearly 2,400 acres (1,000 hectares), while Appolonia being christened the City of Light will be constructed on 2,000 acres (800 hectares). Both cities will be designed for a holistic lifestyle, whereby each of their more than 80,000 residents will be able to live, work and play in one geographical location.
The senior managers say the land will be developed for residential properties, retail and other commercial centres, as well as schools, healthcare centres, and other social infrastructure.
Launching the projects in Accra, over the weekend, the Vice President, John Dramani Mahama expressed the need for proper spatial planning for cities in Ghana had become imperative as urban population overtakes rural population.
In his own words: ?In the past we used to have 70 per cent of our population in the rural areas and 30 per cent in the urban areas but now the figure has swapped to an estimated 53% in the urban areas and 47% in rural areas due to economic growth and this means we need to do proper spatial planning in our ?disorganized? cities?.
He said government did not have a hard time giving its blessing to the projects because it was a private initiative, which would not be a burden on government?s budget, but promised to yield great benefits for the country, particularly with the oil discovery.
Mr Mahama commended the Renaissance Group for choosing Ghana and assured them of government?s full support for the projects.
The Chief Executive Officer of the Renaissance Group, Mr Stephen Jennings was happy to say that ?the company is proud to join Ghanaian partners to announce King City and Appolonia-City of Light in Ghana and to create world-class infrastructure and visionary urban solutions to Africa?s economic growth?.
The Chief of Takoradi, Osahene Katakyi Busumakura III said the King City project falls within the Omanhene?s Sustainable Development Programme, which aims to make Takoradiman an attractive port city, gateway to the sub-region, a viable investment centre, a livable and conducive city in Africa and the world by 2025.
He thanked the Renaissance Group for coming onboard to make his vision a reality and urged all Ghanaians to start booking their place in the King City and ?be the first to enjoy a peaceful, happy life in the modern environment that will be created by this project.?
The Chief of Apolonia, Nii Tei Adumuah II said even though Apolonia is known to be a peaceful, beautiful, serene and refreshing environment, there is very little economic activity in the area, as youth unemployment has been a major challenge, and development is virtually nonexistent.
?This is why I am particularly excited about this project because the development that my people and I have long desired will soon become a reality,? he said.
Nii Tei Adumuah said he was particularly happy the Renaissance Group did not demand an outright sale of Apolonia lands to them, but rather as an investment that would benefit the community for years to come.
The Vice President in-charge of West Africa of the Renaissance Group, Mr Dela Worsonu told journalists earlier at press conference that the projects had already received massive support from government, as well as the chiefs and peoples of the two areas chosen for the projects.
He said the company and the chiefs of the two areas had reached separate equity agreements, in which the chiefs invested the land on behalf of their peoples and Renaissance Group would also invest the money as the master development planner to demarcate the areas, build the roads, bring in utilities and other infrastructure and services.
Mr Worsonu added ?That way the chiefs and peoples of the two areas stand to have long-term sustainable benefits from the projects as against if they had sold the land to Renaissance?.
He therefore assured his fellow Ghanaians that both cities would have areas for people of different income levels, saying that they had, for instance, secured a company ready to do mortgage of as low as GHC18,000 repayable in 15 years.
The Head of Real Estates, Africa for the Renaissance Group, Arnold Meyer said Renaissance would do the master plan for the two cities, and bring in the essential utilities and infrastructure, but the actually buildings would be constructed by private individuals and companies with specifications from Renaissance.
He disclosed that the Apolonia ? The City of Light would have lots of warehouses to complement the industry area of Tema, while King City would also have a university, which may be the first for the Western Region.