The Minister of Local Government and Rural Development, Hajia Alima Mahama, has challenged local authorities to implement resilient strategies and innovative approaches to develop the economic potentials of developing cities in the country.
Referring specifically to secondary cities, which are fast growing urban areas in developing countries, experiencing unplanned growth and development, she said Ghana’s ever-growing population required resilient infrastructures and service delivery projects which could meet their demands and create conducive environment to attract investment.
Opening a two-day forum on urban development in Accra yesterday, she said such strategies were necessary to mitigate the undesirable consequences of climate change.
The Ghana Urban Forum, which was organised by the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development, was under the theme “Unlocking the systems of planning, connecting and financing Secondary and Intermediate Cities to propel growth towards the Ghana Beyond Aid agenda.”
It brought together policy makers, government officials at the local, regional and national levels and academia to examine ways to leverage public resources to support equitable and promote sustainable local economic growth and development.
It further provided the platform for discussions on how systems of secondary cities play a vital intermediary role as economic, administrative and logistics hubs within national and global systems of cities.
The Minister called on District Assemblies to work together and create opportunities out of the challenges in urban development to drive sustainable and inclusive economic transformation.
Currently, the government, she said, was implementing the joint area development project to spur development of rural centres and attract much-needed investments.
Hajia Mahama noted that the conclusions from the forum would be fed into Ghana’s national urban policy which was being reviewed and support the country’s effective participation in the 10th Session of the World Urban Forum scheduled to take place next month in Abu Dhabi under the global theme “Cities of Opportunities: Connecting Culture and Innovation.”
Chief Executive Officer of the Accra Metropolitan Assembly (AMA), Mohammed Adjei Sowah, explained that urbanisation was both an opportunity and a challenge for the country to build inclusive societies and drive economic growth adding that the AMA would play a leading role in ensuring sound and safe environment which promotes growth.
United Nations Resident Coordinator in Ghana, reiterated the importance of rethinking how cities and urban spaces were planned, built and managed to aid achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
In addition to modern infrastructure for production and distribution of goods and services, she noted that renewed efforts was necessary to create jobs, livelihood opportunities and improved quality of life.
Emeritus Professor Brian Roberts, Director of Urban Frontiers, an urban development consultancy company in Australia, stated that Ghana’s development potential is currently at risk due to uneven distribution of economic growth and prosperity.
According to him, the practice which had made secondary, smaller cities and regions worse off has resulted in increased level of rural and intercity migration, especially to Accra and Kumasi and inequitable spatial distribution of investments, employment, wealth and poverty.
To address the challenges, he urged for review of national urban plan and policies to give greater emphasis to the importance of and support for the development of secondary cities and called for capacity building for collaborative governance arrangements to support economic, administrative and social development.
BY CLAUDE NYARKO ADAMS