Ghana’s urban population has grown from 4 million to 14 million in 30 years. This has underpinned economic growth, which has on average increased by 5.7% a year since 1984. Can this continue, or is the urban future bleak?
A new report by the World Bank says that urbanisation has reduced urban and rural poverty and enabled higher quality education to reach a larger proportion of the population. Quality of life has improved for millions of Ghanaians as a result of greater access to urban services. Migration to urban areas has transformed the economy, with an increase in industry and service jobs from 38 to 59 percent between 1992 and 2010.
However, negative side effects of rapid urbanization are emerging. These include congestion, unregulated urban expansion, limited access to services and affordable quality housing, and institutions unable to cope with the rapid transition. Ghana is now at a crossroads.
The report proposes four priority policy areas:
- Strengthen land use management and planning in municipal and metropolitan areas;
- Improve connectivity between and within cities, with affordable public transport systems for people to get to work and minimize congestion, and to benefit producers and consumers in urban and rural areas;
- Mobilize existing, unharnessed revenue potentials in urban areas and find new sources of revenue to finance the mentioned land use planning, transport connectivity, and affordable housing, as well as the provision of universal basic services;
- Improve institutional strength and coordination.