Vice President John MahamaVice President John Dramani Mahama has said the need for proper spatial planning for cities in Ghana has become imperative as urban population overtakes rural population.

?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.

The Vice President was speaking at a grand ceremony to unveil plans by the Renaissance Group to build two new modern cities in Ghana where an estimated 180,000 people can live, work and play within the same environment.

One of the cities would be at Apolonia in Accra, and would be called the City of Light, and the other would be in Takoradi and would be called the King City.

The City of Light would be located on a 2,000-acre land, and would accommodate up to 90,000 residents, while the King City would be on a 2,150-acre land in the oil city of Takoradi, and would accommodate an estimated 88,000 residents.

Both projects are estimated to cost at least US$300 million, and would have schools, as well as clearly demarcated commercial, residential, and entertainment areas where utilities and facilities would be in full use 24/7, unlike the current cities where the commercial areas get completely abandoned throughout the night.

The two projects are due to start in 2013 and complete over a period of 10 years.

Vice President John Mahama 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 find.

He thanked the Renaissance Group for choosing Ghana and assured them of government?s full support for the projects.

Earlier at a press conference, Vice President, West Africa for the Renaissance Group, Dela Worsonu told journalists the projects have 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 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.

?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 said.

He assured 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.

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 said 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.

Mr. Meyer noted that the two cities would help to ease vehicular traffic in Accra and Takoradi because most of the people who would live in the two cities would also work and shop in it, and their children would school and play in it as well.

?There would be tens of thousands of permanent and temporary job opportunities for Ghanaians in both cities,? he said.

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.

There was a lucky dip in which two people won one plots of land each at King City and Apolonia ? The City of Light.

The Renaissance Group are the single largest shareholders of Ecobank Transnational Incorporated, and are currently undertaking similar modern city projects in Kenya (Tatu City), Democratic Republic of Congo (Kiswishi), and Zambia (Roma Park).

From: Ghana/Samuel Nii Narku Dowuona/Adom News

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