Conferences and programmes that have been earmarked to take place at the Accra International Conference Centre (AICC) when the Africa Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) agreement finally takes off may be unfeasible as a result of the poor state of the facility.
The AICC, the country’s flagship event venue that has hosted major local and international events over the years, is gradually rotting away just six years after it underwent a major rehabilitation.
This came to light when the Foreign Affairs Committee of Parliament, led by its chairman Frank Annoh-Dompreh, toured the facility and two other places on Wednesday.
The center, founded in 1991, was built in modern style with six halls and a total seating capacity of 6,000. The largest hall seats 1,600 people.
Addressing the media after the tour, Mr. Annoh-Dompreh said: “All of us were shocked at the structural challenges of this national asset. This committee is surprised, but we are not in any way pointing accusing fingers. We think it is a genuine challenge we all need to resolve.”
He said the committee had learnt during the tour that right from the inception of the building, there had been structural challenges that were not resolved.
“We are going to make sure something is done, not just for the sake of it but for the fact that it will protect lives, it will save the economy a lot of money, coupled with the fact that we are playing host to the continental free trade agreement—which means that Ghana is going to be a beehive of conferences and all that.”
He indicated that the committee will schedule a meeting with the sector minister as soon as possible to get her to report on the short- to medium-term plans for the building.
A member of the committee, Dr. Francis Bawaana Dakura, stated that government should consider an alternate facility given that the AICC has been “overused”.
“I will also call for a national consensus for us to have a befitting alternative international conference centre. The current place is not fit for purpose,” he said.
On what has occasioned the deterioration of the facility, Mark Addo, the principal engineer at AICC assigned to Foreign Affairs, said the basement has been engulfed by moisture.
“The first report I saw on this was in 2014 and it was almost like this. It means that way before then this had already started. In 1991, when the building was commissioned, there was water on the floor—as in groundwater—which means it did not have adequate sub-structural drainage.”
He added that the maintenance regime has not been adequate throughout the years, with the columns and piles peeling off.
The committee also made stops at the new Passport Office building, which is about 70 percent complete. According to engineers at the site, it is likely to be ready by August.
The final stop was the Foreign Affairs Institute, which will be used to train diplomats and Foreign Service officers. It is expected to be ready for use by November.