• Over three quarters of Accra’s residents live in urban slums

    The People’s Dialogue on Human Settlement, upon forming a localised definition of a slum, established that 80% of Accra’s residents live in slum conditions. CEO Farouk Braimah said, “There are basically two definitions we can ascribe to a slum. We identified five key areas; the one that talks about improved sanitation, the one that talks […]

  • West Africa’s biggest mall under construction in Accra

    West Hills Mall responds to the growing attachment Ghanaians have found to shopping malls for their safety and convenience. Architects intend for the mall to be of an international design standard and include local and international tenants. The $93 million, 10- hectare development is under construction in Western Accra and set to be completed by […]

  • A growing city, challenging housing options

    Owning a home is a reality for only a few in Accra. For most, even long-time residents, renting is the only option. The city’s housing market is like a pyramid: At its apex, a small international set – many of whom have lived or currently live abroad – own the most expensive residences. Moving down, […]

  • On its path to liveability, Accra explores new transport options

    For the average commuter, Accra is choked by bottlenecks and traffic congestion. The city’s commercial activity attracts two-thirds of commuters to the CBD, but the ineffective transport system stifles accessibility, productivity and liveability. The city’s longstanding transportation planning bias toward cars is catching up with the growing city. An estimated 70 percent of commuters get […]

  • Who’s driving Accra’s future?

    Despite its growing economy, Accra’s local government has struggled to finance the planning and management of its housing and infrastructure needs, which has pushed national government to turn to private sector-facilitated development. New hotels, office buildings and commercial high-rises are cropping up in the city, particularly in high-end and commercially attractive areas, including around the […]

  • Cultural renaissance on the streets of Accra

    Ghana’s cultural policy is largely stuck in the past, with the state steadfastly centered on promoting historical tradition. Much of the public holds the same perspective, says Ato Annan, project officer of the Foundation for Contemporary Art Ghana (FCA), a non-profit organisation and network of Ghanaian artists. “Most Ghanaians are set in what they perceive […]

  • Whose city is it, anyway?

    “Accra has always had a dual personality, right from its beginnings,” says Nat-Nuno Amarteifio. He should know. A historian, he was mayor of the city from 1994 to 1998. With approximately 2,3 million residents, Accra increasingly finds itself at the centre of one of the fastest growing economies in Africa, and like many major cities […]

  • In Accra, a need to re-claim open spaces and re-gain community?

    Traditionally, recreation and social interaction were a matter of course for African societies, finding expression in the built form from the compounds in multi-family dwellings to community durbar grounds. The very form of the built environment ensured the requisite interaction. However with urbanisation and a misconceived notion of modernity, the experience of social interaction is changing in form, substance and scale.

  • Don’t snap me!

    “Don’t snap me!” he says as I twirl about with my bag unsteadily like a spinning top resisting the inevitable topple. “I was actually just taking a pic of the billboard” I offer, but end up muttering to myself, the offended man long gone. New city – we’re in Accra, Ghana – and our local […]

  • Slums in Ghana – Tackie’s take

    Join Frank Tackie, past president of the Ghana Institute of Planners, with guests, in a 50-minute discussion about slums and urban sprawl in Ghana.            

  • Sex and the city meets Accra

    Ngozi, Zainab, Nana Yaa, Sade and Makena are five Ghanaian friends who, after living in the USA and UK for several years, return to Accra. This is the plot story of An African City, the online web series which premiered on YouTube in March and already has thousands of fans. Think Sex and the City […]

  • Invisible Borders explores new public spaces

    It’s a bright July afternoon in Accra. At Nima roundabout, cars normally pass around the circle and pedestrians walk through, but this afternoon the Invisible Borders Trans-African Photography Project exhibition draws attention and curiosity. People slow, pause, and stop to see the displays of immensely sized photographs mounted on wooden legs. The photographs, like windows, […]

  • Time for Accra to see the informal realm not as a “sector” but as people

    “Africa is people!” Three words, the central, frustrated and hopeful thesis of Chinua Achebe’s final compilation of essays. As I read his essays, I kept thinking, “And also, Accra is people, and ‘informal Accra’ is people.” This is obvious, of course. But the obvious is sometimes easy to overlook, a point I’ll get back to. […]

  • Chale Wote Street Art Festival capitalizes on streetscape as public space

    “In Ghana, what attracts people to places isn’t the [physical] space, it’s the event,” a friend said to me in conversation a few weeks ago. I was reminded of his words this past weekend, standing at the triangle-shaped Otublohum Square in Jamestown. As I watched, bike stuntmen paraded up and down High Street, doing tricks […]

  • How can art bring purpose to Accra’s public spaces?

    By accident, Ghana’s telecommunications companies may have actually helped catalyze public art, at least in Accra. By branding houses, walls and kiosks with their company colors, they inspired a group of artists to bring their work into public space, too. In areas like Kawukudi and Nima, major roadsides are parades of blue, green, yellow and […]

  • iPhone hustlers provide a last-mile solution for a global market

    (By Sharon Benzoni/Informal City Dialogues) Chris Oppong-Agyemang’s landlady is called “Tip Toe Mama,” and for good reason. Her family owns the land where the Red Tip Toe House stands, and supposedly, it is this house that gave Tip Toe Lane its memorable name. Just a decade ago, the street was an entertainment district, I’m told. […]

  • Commercial and street activity intersect in Accra

    “Original memory card, original pen drive, original battery, local battery, mp3, original battery, local charger,” a recorded voice blares repeatedly from a loudspeaker. The speaker is attached to a small wooden stall, laden with small-scale electronics: phones, phone covers, headphones, pen drives. It’s one of many stalls situated in the open space at Tetteh Quarshie […]