Rising through Cities in Ghana: WB to release report on Ghana’s urbanization

The World Bank and the Government of Ghana are expected to release, on May 14, 2015, a report on urbanization in Ghana titled: Rising through Cities in Ghana . The report analyzes Ghana’s rising urbanization challenges and looks at a framework of actions needed to successfully overcome them.

According to the 2010 Population and Housing Census, out of a total population of about 25 Million, more than half of Ghana s population live in urban areas. It is projected that by 2030, a total of 22.6 million Ghanaians representing about 65% of the national population would live in urban areas. Currently, major cities in the country are growing as fast as 4.5% per annum.

Over the last three decades, Ghana’s urban population has more than tripled, rising from 4 million to nearly 14 million people, and outpacing rural population growth. The country is moving steadily and uniformly towards cities and towns, and all regions are experiencing this growth. In fact, Ghana’s urban population growth has been faster in its secondary and sub-urban cities than its larger ones.

Can this increasing pool of urban residents secure good jobs, access affordable housing, clean water, public transport and other utilities and amenities that make living in a city a comfortable and happy experience?

These and many other issues, including specific action points would be discussed at the launch of this report on Thursday May 14, 2015, at the La Palm Royal Beach Hotel, under the theme : Deepening the Urban Agenda for Transformative Change.

Among the line-up of activities for the launch are presentations, dialogue sessions, video screening and panel discussions by a high profile local and foreign experts and government officials. The high point of the event is a keynote address by H.E. the Vice President of the Republic, Paa Kwesi Bekoe Amissah-Arthur, who will also do the official launch of the report. Executive Summary

Rapid urbanization in Ghana over the past three decades has coincided with rapid GDP growth. This has helped to create jobs, increase human capital, decrease poverty, and expand opportunities and improve living conditions for millions of Ghanaians. Ghana s urban transformation has been momentous, but it is not unique: a similar process has characterized other countries at similar levels of development. Ghana s key challenge now is to ensure that urbanization continues to complement growth through improvements in productivity and inclusion, rather than detracting from these goals. Many rising problems are related to efficiency and inclusion: these include slums, lack of basic services, underdeveloped manufacturing, and insufficient transport infrastructure.

The Ghana Urbanization Review (GUR) and its accompanying reports provide an analysis of Ghana s rising urbanization challenges and a framework to successfully overcome these challenges. With Ghana s specific urban challenges and strengths in mind, the GUR focuses on four priority areas: (i) integrated land planning for effective urban development; (ii) strategic infrastructure development and improved regulation of the transport sector to enhance connectivity of urban areas to markets; (iii) consolidating the gains made over the last 20 years of decentralization by deepening fiscal decentralization and exploring innovative ways for financing urban development; and (iv) institutional coordination and harmonization to facilitate land, transport, and finance planning and connectivity. These four areas are key drivers that will enable the attainment of a successful urban system in Ghana. Policy Recommendations

Land markets. To meet the challenges of urbanization, Ghana requires stronger land use management and planning in municipal and metropolitan areas. Urban and land use planning are negatively affected by an inflexible land ownership system. Successful planning can be achieved by valuing land to create effective markets and facilitate the transferability and bankability of land assets; and coordinating land development with infrastructure and affordable housing. In particular, Ghana should strengthen and clarify property rights through land market formalization; make land use regulations and administrative procedures more market friendly; and coordinate land market reforms with increased provision of affordable housing.

Urban connectivity. Transport improvements are required to connect markets, boost factor mobility, and help modernize Ghana s urban economies. Strong connectivity enhances the competitiveness of an economy and generates a business environment conducive to firm growth and development. Quality infrastructure efficiently connects firms to their customers and suppliers, and enables the use of modern production technologies. Yet the provision of transport infrastructure in Ghana has generally been undertaken as a result of development rather than in anticipation of it, resulting in piecemeal infrastructure provision that is inadequate to meet effective demand. Policy makers should consider options for guiding and managing transport investment in a more coordinated manner and making cities more mobile and competitive through forward-looking and transformative infrastructure investments. In particular, Ghana s authorities should increase intermodal coordination in intercity connectivity; develop high capacity public transport systems in large metropolitan areas to improve intracity connectivity; and prioritize high-return transport infrastructure.

Financing. Improved land use planning and transport connectivity require new sources of finance, as current investment in the urban sector and existing revenues fall far short of needs. The efficiency of the urban system and of urban service delivery is largely influenced by the provision of adequate financing. Providing universal basic services, increasing the availability of affordable housing, and expanding transport infrastructure are expensive; yet they are expensive investments that pay off. To improve financing capacity, Ghana should improve metropolitan and municipal revenues; rationalize the intergovernmental fiscal framework, including ongoing decentralization reforms; and develop new urban financing mechanisms.

Institutional coordination. Underlying Ghana s urban land market friction, poor transport connectivity, and insufficient financing is weak institutional capacity and coordination. Land use planning is negatively affected by political and institutional constraints related to coordination and Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assemblies (MMDA) capacity, including an unresponsive legislative framework, undue political interference, acute human resource shortages, and inadequate financial resources. Connecting cities and regions requires interjurisdiction coordination, yet the laws, regulations, institutions, decision-making, and financing mechanisms affecting the transport sector in Ghana remain uncoordinated. And rationalizing the intergovernmental fiscal framework requires greater intergovernmental institutional coordination as much as it requires more formal allocation rules. Building institutional strength through human capital development is essential to confronting these challenges. In addition, Ghana should improve interjurisdictional coordination, complete decentralization reforms, and further develop public-private partnerships (PPPs).

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