Let me ask you all a question: Does Ghana need a new capital city?
Before you answer, consider my argument. As I was lying in bed contending with ‘dumsor’ on a rainy Monday morning, the thought of Accra filled my mind. I’m the host of Sunrise, and this week, we’re focusing on our capital via daily discussions we’re calling ‘The Accra Series’.
In 2013, as part of its recommendations to the president, the constitutional Review Implementation Committee proposed that Ghana should have two capital cities. It would follow Nigeria and Ivory Coast’s footsteps: an economic capital and a political or administrative capital. Accra is flooding again, so of course this has become topical.
Those who support relocation say Accra is choked, we need a new model capital city like Abuja in Nigeria. Others, like Alfred Kwasi Opoku, the President of the Ghana Institute of Planners, believe what we need is a change of attitude. Mr. Opoku believes if we do not change our attitudes, we will be faced with the same challenge even if we change the capital city.
So does Ghana need a new capital? My answer is NO. Do we need attitudinal change? My response is YES. Most Ghanaians may have been educated on the effects of poor sanitation and building on water ways, but hey what do we see? Same old story. So you see why we need another approach?
I believe the best way to solve the congestion in Accra is by creating growth poles in other regions of the country. Development is not uniform and thus needs a deliberate effort by government to develop other regions of the country around a core industry.
So let’s take the Western Region as one example. We could create a petrochemical industry. This could be linked to others, such as the fertilizer and plastic industry. What this means is: you will have people from other parts of the country – including Accra – moving to this new petrochemical industry and linked industries. Similarly, it would halt the migration of people from Sekondi-Takoradi to Accra.
I remember when I was working with a radio station in Takoradi. Most people who spoke to me advised me to move to Accra since I was doing so well. So today here I am in Accra. I am one of millions who has migrated here. And of course there are also those planning to move here; and many, many more who will relocate if we do not develop the other regions of the country.
Just look at Kumasi. Can’t government deliberately create a growth pole in the Ashanti Region? There is the Suame Magazine that specializes in vehicle repairs. There is also the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology. Can’t we convert Kumasi into the technological hub of Ghana? This will ensure that people who migrate from the North to Accra could at least stay in Kumasi to work.
So you see Accra can work again if we make a concerted effort at decongesting it. In building a nation you need growth poles. Everything must not be concentrated at one point here in Accra.
By Winston Amoah
The writer is host of Sunrise 3fm 92.7 6am-10am. Listen to ‘The Accra Series’ every day this week.
Follow Winston on Twitter: @winston_3fm