Moving Unruly Contemporary Urbanism Toward Sustainable Urban Development in Ghana by 2030

The widely held view that rapid urbanization is occurring across much of Sub-Saharan Africa has been questioned recently, and an alternative perspective has drawn attention to conditions of counter-urbanization and slow urbanization growth rates on the continent. This view has far-reaching implications for the urbanization agenda because the need for central government and metropolitan authorities to prepare for high levels of urbanization is in doubt.

Using census data for the period 1970 to 2010, this study critically examines the population dynamics of cities in Ghana, and the key factors shaping these dynamics as well as future growth trajectories through 2030. We argue that without proper planning and investments in cities, Ghana is likely to produce a bipolar urban society marked, on the one hand, by world-class cities with solid infrastructure and services largely inhabited by the middle and upper classes and, on the other, by cities largely composed of informal settlements inhabited by a poor and low-skilled population.

Although there is little doubt about Ghana’s urban future, the future pattern remains unclear, especially the potential impact of new urban projects as well as the effects of climate change and new investments in oil and gas on the existing pattern. We conclude that policymakers, city officials, the private sector, and other key actors need to be more proactive and creative in addressing the most salient negative outcomes of urbanization and embolden their policy instruments to deal with mounting urban challenges.

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Photo Credit: Martin H., Elegant Machines


Publication Type Journal Article
Publisher American Behavioral Scientist
Year 2015
Author(s) George Owusu and Martin Oteng-Ababio
Other Numbers Vol. 59(3): 311-327
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