Gov’t not well prepared to manage urbanization – Report

Business News of Sunday, 8 June 2014

Source: Graphic Online

Jamal Urbanisation

An Urbanisation review report has identified urbanisation as a looming problem in Ghana and pointed out the limited preparedness of local and central governments to plan and manage it effectively.

According to the report, the pace of urbanisation and the rising demand for land are also looming problems.

The report said addressing the challenges of urbanisation currently and in the future would require much stronger land use planning and special focus on rapid urban and peri-urban sprawl.

The review was undertaken by the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development in collaboration with the World Bank and Swiss Secretariat for Economic Development and validated by stakeholders in Accra on Tuesday.

The objective of the Ghana Urbanisation Review is to assist the government in prioritising urban development issues in line with the Ghana National Urban Policy and Action Plan.

The review was also meant to identify policies that could enhance the integration of Ghana’s cities, both locally and internationally, by increasing efficacy, inclusiveness and sustainability of urbanisation.

It highlighted specific priorities in the three main dimensions of urban development, comprising planning, connection and financing.

The review report

The Ghana Urbanisation Review Phase One Report recommended that in planning, priority should be given to meeting the need for sustainable urban and housing development. It said it could be done by fostering an effective land market under the authority of land use planners.

It also recommended that a balanced management of the customary land tenure system with specific action to reform land markets would allow the efficient valuation, formal sale of customary lands and the use of lands as collaterals.

The report suggested that increasing the supply of affordable housing and expanding access to affordable housing finance would contribute to a sustainable land market.

It explained that meeting the need for sustainable urban and housing development would require an effective land market.

According to the report, there are numerous challenges to overcome in order to make Ghana’s national urban system more efficient and productive.

It said Ghana’s cities had the potential to extend the benefits of urbanisation beyond it administrative boundaries by connecting to the rest of the periphery.

At validation workshop

Speaking at the workshop, the Deputy Minister of Local Government and Rural Development, Mr Baba Jamal, said the objective of the workshop was to present the findings of the review to all key stakeholders.

He said it was expected that the stakeholders would discuss, validate the findings and make recommendations.

“It is projected that by 2030, a total of 22.6 million people, being 65 per cent of the national population, would live in urban areas, with the current major cities in the country growing as fast as 4.5per cernt per annum,” he added.

According to him, recognising the demographic change and its importance for Ghana’s developmental process, the government launched the National Urban Policy and Action Plan in 2012 to highlight critical issues to facilitate effective urban development.

Mr Jamal said the policy provided the overall framework and action areas for effective urban development and further deepened the analysis of the urban transition. It added that the review discussed lessons from other countries at similar levels of urbanisation across the world.

The Greater Accra Regional Minister, Nii Laryea Afotey Agbo, said the Greater Accra was the most urbanised region in the country and consumed more land for settlement.

According to him, it is significant to enhance urban economic performance through infrastructure development, coordinate cities with markets, and improve mobility within cities.

The World Bank assured Ghana of its support to facilitate its development in urbanisation, and promised to help the government make policies, implement actions and investment towards urban development.

The representative of the Swiss Government, Bridget Cradget, said urbanisation issues were not just about financing but leadership and the people as well.

She commended the leadership of Dormaa Ahenkro for making it a well-organised and hygienic city.