[14 April 2013] – The Government of Ghana has launched a National Urban Policy and Action Plan, the first comprehensive urban governance framework in the country’s history.
The new policy, which was announced by President John Mahama on 28 March 2013, represents a significant step in Ghana’s efforts to respond to the challenges and opportunities of rapid urbanisation. More than half of all Ghanaians already live in cities, and the country’s urban population is expected to double between 2000 and 2025. Some 51 percent of urban residents live in slums.
The policy will provide the framework for coordination among the many stakeholders who are responsible for urban development and facilitate a multi-sectoral approach—a particularly important issue in Ghana, where urban development issues are spread out among various portfolios. It will also support cooperation among national and local governments to allocate the necessary resources for public and private activities.
The Government of Ghana’s efforts to develop a national urban policy have been supported from start to finish by the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) through its Support for Decentralisation Reforms programme. GIZ provided technical and financial assistance throughout the comprehensive and participatory urban policy formulation process, including sponsoring the launch and dissemination.
GIZ is a leading partner in the Cities Alliance Country Programme in Ghana, in part due to German Cooperation’s longstanding relationship with local governments through the decentralisation reform programme.
“Germany will continue being a partner for sustainable, prosperous and socially inclusive cities in Ghana,” said Thomas Wimmer, German Deputy Head of Mission to Ghana at the 28 March launch. “Together with the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development and Cities Alliance, the GIZ Programme Support for Decentralisation Reforms strives to continue building an inclusive national urban agenda.”
Using a comprehensive problem analysis as a basis, the National Urban Policy comprises the development of a vision, guiding principles and 12 action areas. These action areas are further refined by establishing detailed policy interventions, responsibilities and timelines.
One of the initial priorities will be naming and numbering all streets over the next 18 months. This process will allow local authorities to collect property taxes, generating much-needed revenue that will enable them to improve service delivery to citizens.
The implementation of the National Urban Policy will be coordinated by the Urban Development Unit (UDU). The Cities Alliance is providing institutional capacity support to the UDU through its Country Programme.
Also within the framework of the Country Programme, the Cities Alliance is supporting the development of a strategy to implement a World Bank US$150 million water and sanitation programme for the Greater Accra Metropolitan Area.
Another upcoming Country Programme activity is the 2013 Ghana Urban Forum on 30 April in Accra. The Forum is one of the country’s major urban development events, bringing together all stakeholders in Ghana’s urban sector for open dialogue on dealing with the challenges and opportunities of rapid urbanisation.
President of Ghana John Mahama announcing the new National Urban Policy. Photo: GBC
“Urban systems have become dominant in our country today. If we don't put in place the urban governance systems to guide their development, 10 or 20 years from now, what will happen is that we will have traffic gridlock.” -- President John Mahama, 28 March 2013