Feature: Effective Policies For Decongestion Of The City

The congestion situation both human and traffic in Accra, is getting worse which calls for serious attention of policy makers. The developmental policy seems to concentrate in the capital city, causing economic, social and environmental problems as the environment has no border. The air is polluted.

Also there are economic and social factors that affect the macro economics in basic economics theory such as demand and supply, equilibrium and the law of diminishing returns and so on.

If one is a producer, one will also consider these economic factors in one’s operations the same way it applies to migration and labour force. In the case of Accra, the story is not different. Is it possible to apply the basic rules to regularise and rescue the situation? Our city will be very expensive and polluted and may not be attractive anymore, let us all put our heads together to read these suggestions to resolve the situation.

Population and socio-economic development issues

This article deals with the relevant issues of the relationship between population and socio-economic development in the capital city (Accra), such as: education, employment; health; national migration, environment and the line between regional population and other cross cutting issues, namely environment, gender, and savings are the issues for discussion, focusing on the quantity of population factors into sectoral policies and issues that are closely linked to poverty reduction.

Why is it important to factor population into our planning? The reason is that any policy should recognize that sustainable growth cannot be achieved unless population issues are integrated into a variety of efforts related to poverty, the control of land pressure and natural resources, over consumption and environmental management.

Ghana’s demographic features, most notably fertility, mortality, migration and urbanization should be addressed in the policy concerning their impact on poverty reduction, in relation to education, employment and health, as well as the key cross cutting areas such as environment and gender.

The current population of Accra will not be sustainable if it keeps on increasing; traffic on congestion, environmental related ills, high cost of living and accommodation are serious concerns that policy makers should consider critically, this will dominate developmental agenda in future if left unchecked.


The policy makers must seek to address the issues of overpopulation in the capital city. Ghana’s population in 1960 was little above 6 million, when almost all the institutions were created mainly in the capital city. Now, Ghana has a population of over 33 million, yet we still have all the institutions in the capital city.

What this means is that, the expansion of these institutions will increase migration alongside accommodation and thus create a negative impact on environment and land use for which reason we will experience overconsumption since the city does not produce but mainly produce services and increase crime rate, i.e. cyber-crimes and other sophisticated crimes.

In addition, the city will be faced with overpopulation-related challenges, such as cheap labour, and other socio-economic problems, including environmental related diseases, which can put stress on the national health systems (hospitals) and sanitation systems.

Rate of urbanisation

The current unprecedented rate of urbanization and its attendant social, economic and the environmental situation is not sustainable. It requires innovative and integrative strategy approaches to deal with such issues to ensure sustainable development.

Despite the achievements at the policy level by the government to develop the capital city, there are inadequate intervention strategies to reduce the population in the capital city. The decentralisation system is not functioning and the government can mitigate this problem by efficient and effective decentralisation of the population activities and adequate inter-agency collaboration and regional integration.

What this means is that most offices; the Authorities, Commissions and Secretariats (government agencies) can be moved to other regional capitals to ensure efficiency and productivity. For example, Ghana Cocoa Board Headquarters in Brong or Ahafo Region will ensure efficient service, since it is in the heart of its core operations, (some staffs at CMB may not know the process cocoa beans go through) and such moves will automatically reduce the number of people in the city, creating vibrant life in the new place.

The current situation is premised on the fact that policy makers do not understand the relevance of the agencies, authorities, commissions and secretariats to have their head office in Accra.

In this circumstance, I am tempted to ask the relevance of DVLA, NSS, Forestry Commission, National Petroleum Authority, Energy Commission etc. having their head office in Accra? In the United King Kingdom, DVLA head office is in Swansea, and most agencies are outside London.

In actual fact, moving the DVLA head office to the Eastern Region will not have any impact on its operational level, likewise moving the NSS head office to WA or HO will not have any impact on its operation. Distribution of these agencies will stimulate the local economy by creating indirect jobs’ and make it less attractive to move to the capital city.

Therefore, the social, economic, and environmental challenges currently faced in the city will improve the traffic congestion situation, pressure on education, transport, housing, health system and environment.

Balancing population growth and economic growth

In pursuit of developmental agenda, the government must implement population policies and programmes, to attain the balance between population growth and economic growth. This includes the promotion of equal and universal access to quality of basic education, vocational training, skilled manpower and employment, to conform to the current economic development.

The reduction in population growth in the capital city will improve the city’s prospects for economic development in the country as a whole since it will equally affect the resource distribution which is believed to enhance our ability to improve the lives of the citizenry.

Every economic development policy has population at its core planning point, any good policy implementation requires the creation of institutional machinery for the integration of population variables into the planning process with adequate mechanisms for its monitoring and evaluation. It is equally important to ensure adequate provision of human and financial resources for policy implementation.

However, lack of sufficient funds, lack of awareness among public officials, inadequate intervention strategies, lack of training and skilled manpower, insufficient decentralization of population activities and inadequate inter-agency collaboration and regional integration have always been the problem at the implementation level. The gradual implementation process should be sustained to get some result.

It is right to say that population growth affects the supply of labour and employment as well in simple economics terms. At the micro economics level, household income becomes low, affecting savings and investment.

In other words, the quality of economic growth will be very poor in relation to population. As the capital becomes congested, the economic cost in terms of macroeconomics is higher, poor social, economic and environment cannot be ignored.

Fast growth of population does not only affect the capacity to create jobs and absorb the supply of labour, but could lead to serious competition for limited employment opportunities, and result in the violation of core labour standards. As a result, there will be increase in child labour, discrimination, poor working conditions, low wages, non-payment of social security, long working and unsociable hours.

It is inevitable people will move from rural areas to the city and therefore, it is important to have  a policy in place to develop all the regional capitals by way of giving incentive to companies to move to the regional capital.

The Government must also get seriously involved by moving all head offices of agencies to the regional capitals and because some private companies provide services for these agencies, these companies will move along with the government agencies.

In this case, people will move close to where they live in search of better employment and educational opportunities with good and/or high standard of living rather than travel to Accra which is already congested, polluted in the face of low income and high accommodation cost.


It is imperative to reduce the factors that push people to migrate to Accra to achieve balance necessary for sustainable development. Policy makers should adopt strategies such as the growth of regional and urban centres or the development of rural areas and where appropriate, in view of expanding ownership or use of land and water, decentralizing government bureaucracies, improving social welfare services, and providing credit to small-scale business and potential business owners and farmers.

The strategy of population redistribution should highlight programmes that seek to integrate the migrants by facilitating training and access to credit for small-scale businesses. It is also equally important that such strategies should promote community-based social services, especially with primary health care, basic education and basic principles of local environmental management.

The population redistribution will give equitable and fair sustainable economic growth. In every economy the quality of growth is very important and controlling the population growth through a set of variables, including education, employment, rural or urban migration and environmental management will also lead to development of human capital.

The direct outcome is economic opportunities that improve household saving, investment    and poverty reduction and most importantly, it will improve the standards of living and aspiration for better life.

By Dr. Edward Kwadwo Yeboah, Kumasi

*The Writer is an Economic Development Consultant



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