This year’s Ghana Urban Forum (GUF)is underway in Accra to provide an avenue for stakeholders to share knowledge and experiences to help address issues concerning planning, management and living in the country’s cities and towns.
On the theme “Rapid Urban Growth in Ghana: Promoting Effective Urban Planning for Liveable and Sustainable Cities and Towns,” GUF has brought together state and non- state actors to discuss pertinent urban issues and proffer solutions that will support sustainable urban development in the country.
It has, since its inception in 2009, been used by the Ministry of Local Government, Decentralisation and Rural Development to additionally solicit stakeholder inputs into policy and programme documents, including the National Urban Policy and Action Plan (2012), the Ghana Urbanisation Review Report: Ghana Rising (2015); the Habitat III Report (2016); and Ghana’s inputs into Africa’s position on the New Urban Agenda.
Opening the forum on Monday, the Minister of Local Government, Decentralisation and Rural Development, Mr Daniel Botwe, said the forum had become increasingly important due to the emergence of more complex issues, such as demographic and climate changes as well as the onset and recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.
He indicated that the forum would stimulate government and political commitment as well as the commitment of all stakeholders to effective urban planning and development.
“The key anticipated outcomes of the forum will include, but not limited to the redefinition of urban areas beyond the population threshold; a communique on what needs to be done at all levels to strengthen Ghanaian towns and cities to be smart, resilient, productive, inclusive, and liveable; and a comprehensive report on all discussions to serve as a reference for policy and programming for all stakeholders,” he added.
Mr Francis Asenso-Boakye, Minister of Works and Housing, appealed to stakeholders across various levels of the country to investigate opportunities that would strengthen the cities’ resilience and deepen the understanding of the relationship between national urban policy formulation, and its challenges.
He noted that his ministry was in the process of setting up a Housing Authority to regulate, plan, and implement housing programmes that met the needs and financial aspirations of Ghanaians.
Mr Asenso-Boakye stated that his ministry was fully committed to the GUF, for which reason he entreated the Ministry of Local Government, Decentralisation and Rural Development and other stakeholders to strengthen its engagements with the Ministry of Works and Housing.
Mr Charles Abani, United Nations (UN) Resident Coordinator, emphasised the need for urban areas to invest in preparedness in order to face unforeseen circumstances.
He said there was also the need for attention to be paid to the disruptive impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic and embrace the digital transformation agenda, adding that “together let us act local to go global”.
The Municipal Chief Executive (MCE) of Adenta, Mr Daniel Alexander Nii-NoiAdumuah, said the forum afforded the country the opportunity to fill the gaps in its urbanisation and related matters as it had to do a lot to promote sustainable urban growth in the country.
BY ABIGAIL ARTHUR