Fueling the Future of an Oil City: A Tale of Sekondi-Takoradi in Ghana
Africa is experiencing an economic boom period, with many of the fastest growing world economies of the last decade in the continent. Ghana is one of the fastest growing economies within Africa, with multiple years of growth in GDP around 7 percent, driven by exports of gold and cocoa and, with oil production that commenced in 2010, further growth is expected.
Simultaneously, the continent is transforming due to the effects of rapid urbanization. Africa is the fastest urbanizing continent with urban growth rate of 3.5 percent per year, with that rate expected to hold until 2050. Ghana’s rate of urbanization is currently measured at 3.4 percent and the country has reached the milestone of 51 percent of its 24 million people living in cities.
Urbanization and economic growth spur opportunity but also present challenges such as growth of slums to accommodate the influx of people seeking better jobs and lives in the cities. In turn this can lead to poor quality services and inequalities exacerbated by crime and conflict. Over the last few decades we have also seen an increase in urban disasters. Poor, cramped living conditions, such as those we saw in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, in 2010, can lead to even deadlier and more destructive disasters.
The world is changing how it views Africa, from seeing the continent through the lens of vulnerability to seeing it through the lens of opportunity. While the increase in foreign direct investment is a catalyst for profound, positive change, at the same time it is essential to continue focusing on meeting the needs of disadvantaged communities, including the rapidly increasing number of slum-dwellers in cities. Ongoing economic growth requires social stability, which can be greatly assisted by urban planning that addresses the equitable provision of public services to all citizens.