The Minister for Local Government, Decentralisation, and Rural Development (MLGDRD), Honourable Daniel Botwe has paid a working visit to the Bureau of Integrated Rural Development (BIRD) of the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources (CANR), Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST) in Kumasi, Ashanti Region, on January 24, 2023.
The minister, who was accompanied by his two deputies and other senior officials from the MLGDRD mentioned that they were visiting KNUST to explore ways of working in partnership with BIRD to address the challenges facing rural development in Ghana. To this end, he said that the Ministry seeks to deepen the existing relationship with BIRD-KNUST and deliberate on the implementation of the Rural Development Policy and the way forward. ‘The Ministry bears the name rural development, and we have a research/academic centre focusing on rural development, so it’s important that we collaborate to promote rural development in Ghana’ he stated.
The Honourable Minister emphasized that the Constitution of Ghana places a responsibility on all governments to ensure balanced socio-economic development. As a result, the Rural Development Policy of Ghana provides the framework for all stakeholders to ensure that rural areas are not left out in the share of the national cake. The Minister highlighted that it was time for the Ministry to deepen its relationship with academic institutions and research centers to address the various complex challenges that confront rural areas.
Honourable Daniel Botwe, Minister, Local Government, Decentralisation and Rural Development
The Vice-Chancellor, Professor (Mrs.) Rita Akosua Dickson in welcoming the Minister to KNUST, noted that the visit was a significant step in the right direction. She indicated that KNUST as a leading Science and Technology Institution thrives on creating an environment for undertaking relevant research, quality teaching, entrepreneurship training, and community engagement to improve the quality of life. Professor Dickson assured that KNUST has the expertise and a team ready to walk and work with the Ministry to conduct impactful and relevant research that proffer solutions to societal problems. ‘We are ready, willing and committed to collaborating with the Ministry to find solutions to these challenges facing rural development in Ghana,’ she stressed.
Professor (Mrs.) Rita Akosua Dickson, Vice-Chancellor, KNUST
Dr Ebenezer Owusu-Addo, the Director of BIRD, expressed the Bureau’s gratitude for the visit and emphasized the long-standing relationship that has existed between BIRD and the Ministry. He emphasized that the Bureau is ready to partner with the Ministry to champion rural development in Ghana. He cited several initiatives that BIRD had in the past worked on with the Ministry including the development of indicators to track the status of rural development in Ghana, strengthening the capacity of the rural development unit of the MLGDRD, and a workshop on rethinking rural development in Ghana. The Director noted that a current flagship programme being implemented by BIRD, which when scaled up could bolster rural development in Ghana is the “University-Community Engagement Initiative” – i.e. taking the university to the grassroots. The primary objective of this initiative, according to the Director, is to partner with rural districts and communities to promote sustainable and inclusive rural development by developing the core skills and entrepreneurial capabilities of rural communities. The Director further noted that BIRD-KNUST intends to establish a Rural Development Endowment Fund to provide a stable and predictable funding for BIRD to design and implement strategic development interventions in rural Ghana.
Dr. Ebenezer Owusu-Addo, Director, BIRD-KNUST
Commenting on the necessity of such a partnership between the Ministry and academic institutions, Professor Clifford Amoako, the Head of the Department of Planning, indicated that such a working relationship is critically important. He indicated the readiness of the Department of Planning to train the needed manpower to fill key positions within the MLGDRD that will drive the Ministry’s agenda on land use planning and rural development.
In attendance at the meeting were Prof Enock Osekre (representative of the Provost of the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources), Hon. O.B Amoah (Deputy Minister, MLGDRD), Hon. A.C Ntim (Deputy Minister), Prof. Nicholas Awortwi (Director, Institute of Local Government Studies), Ing. Dr Nana Ato Arthur (Head of the Local Government Service), Mr Patrick Apraku (Director, Land Use and Spatial Planning Authority), senior officials and staff of MLGDRD, BIRD and Department of Planning.
Story by: Nathaniel Mensah-Odum and Dr Albert Arhin