The Bo Owl Community Centre on Mattru Road has provided a focus for the activity of OWL in Bo since its completion in 2017.
Recent attention has been given to upgrading and additional maintenance and clarifying the legal ownership status. Whilst the building has been in the practical ownership of Bo OWL since its completion, finalisation of the transfer of land ownership had not been completed. After recent negotiations by Wusu Sannoh, the chair of OWL with the original land plot owners, this matter has now been resolved and legal title now rests with Bo OWL. This is an important basis for planning for the future of the Centre. Wusu and the Committee have been looking at how the building may operate and continue to provide a community role in future years. The building has now been repainted both internally and externally and wall and roofing repairs undertaken.
In order to secure the short-term reliability of power another generator has been acquired. To work in parallel with this and provide a sustainable source of power, a programme of solar power provision is under way. the first phase of this has already been undertaken, providing a power supply to meet all the first-floor requirements for lighting, fans, charging and refrigerator through additional pv panels and associated infrastructure.
Looking ahead, the view is that to maintain and develop its position, further investment in the Centre is needed. Wusu and the UK OWL committee are in discussion with an IT company who are interested in developing an IT hub at the OWL Centre. This could provide high quality internet, satellite TV, IT training facilities and other benefits from updated technology. This is a potentially exciting project and together with the forthcoming improvement of Mattru Road could raise the profile of the Centre considerably and develop it into an attractive destination for social and educational purposes in the city.
To implement this project, an additional power supply is needed, which can be provided by a second stage of solar power provision. This has now been funded and it is hoped that this can be put in place at an early opportunity. With a generator for back up, this will mean the Centre is wholly self sufficient in power supply and will be able to function effectively as a high-grade IT hub
The Centre also provides accommodation, primarily used by visitors from UK OWL, but which can also be used to generate income from other travellers to the city. The rooms have had basic upgrades, with new window mesh, door locks and some cosmetic improvement, though it is recognized that further work is required to washroom facilities to provide suitably attractive accommodation.
Good progress has therefore been made in upgrading the Centre, though further work is still required. Whilst it has not been used as widely as in previous years, this is largely down to the current Covid situation. However, with the current plans for its further development, we are hopeful that it will once more be a destination of choice for many in the city and support the aims of OWL.