Ghana is grappling with one of the fastest growing urbanization rates, with more than half of the population currently living in urban areas. This is very high for a developing country. Unfortunately, the high urbanization rate is not complemented with a commensurate economic growth. The high rate reflects the migration of people from rural areas to the cities, in a process recognized as the urbanization of poverty.
Accra, the capital city has a population growth rate of 2.9 percent while the national average is 2.1 percent according to data from the 2021 Population and Housing Census, and the urban population growth rate is expected to increase in the coming years. The weak planning laws and lack of employment opportunities in other urban centers have contributed to Accra and other cities urbanizing without growing. The cities are unable to deliver their mandated services in environmental sanitation due to weak management capacity and their inability to raise adequate revenue.

Across the developing world, economic integration of national economies has been linked to growth of decentralized administrations, compelling Governments in many countries to take the economy of the city seriously, with city managers becoming increasingly important in economic management. Therefore the belief that economic growth is a matter exclusively for national governments comes under threat. Unfortunately, most city managers in Ghana traditionally do not know much about the economy of the

city they administer, nothing of its strengths or its weaknesses. It is not surprising that the Ghanaian economy is unable to mobilize adequate national resources to address national needs. Unless cities in Ghana are made to work, the national economy shall remain weakened.

Key Challenges
The high urbanization rate has arisen as a consequence of the weak planning systems, the absence of comprehensive urban development policies and coherent institutions. The weak planning systems have contributed to Accra and other cities urbanizing without growing, creating major problems for the economy as a whole.

Looking Ahead
The growing importance of cities and local governments calls for a renewed strategy to address business needs, promote broad-based growth while protecting the environment and supporting effective institutions.
These issues require coherent integrated approaches for the entire economy to promote economic development, treat cities as a living ecosystem, foster the involvement of private sector and civil society, and adopt measures to mitigate and adapt to climate change impacts of urbanization.
The Government should be encouraged to recruit capable leaders to manage the cities, harmonize conflicting planning laws and use modern technology to address deficiencies in urban planning systems in the country. It is proposed that the Government should undertake comprehensive mapping of the entire country with the objective of improving the planning and land delivery systems, bringing all lands under the formal sector, developing the property and street addressing system and securing a sustainable titling programme.