Rapid urbanisation presents a host of complex challenges for Accra’s residents and administration.
Yet it also represents an opportunity, highlighting the pull of the city as an engine of economic growth and an important gateway into West Africa. For Accra, building resilience means bringing together systems, institutions, and all the resources with which we are endowed – to enable the city to prepare for and mitigate the effects of climate change and become more responsive to acute and slow-burning disasters, especially in vulnerable communities.
As the economic centre of Ghana, Accra’s recent history has been characterised by rapid growth. This accelerated rate of growth and associated population increase has effectively outpaced urban planning, presenting the city and administration with a range of complex challenges. The earthquake of 1939 serves as a reminder that we are not immune to natural disasters; today we remain vulnerable to earthquakes as well as flooding and coastal erosion caused by tidal waves. High unemployment, an inadequate transportation system, and building collapse are new threats to overcome.
Under this context, the Accra Metropolitan Assembly (AMA) seeks to create a smart, resilient, and sustainable city which will prepare its citizens and systems to withstand such shocks and stresses – and to grow stronger as a result.
Together the strategy’s 3 pillars, 8 goals, and 27 initiatives support Accra’s ambition of becoming a city that anticipates and plans for unexpected shocks and stresses, rather than reacts to them. Our vision is to transform the city’s ongoing stresses into opportunities: by embracing informality as an engine of growth, designing infrastructure to improve our natural and built environments, and optimising our resources and systems for greater efficiency, accountability, and transparency.
A City that takes an integrated approach to infrastructure planning and service provision to account for changing climate patterns, economic trends, and population growth.
Accra is growing, yet investment in infrastructure development lags behind. Accounting for changing climate patterns, economic trends, and population growth, infrastructure planning and delivery should anticipate the shocks and stresses that threaten our city. These include addressing challenges related to inadequate transportation and mobility options; management of waste, sanitation, and flooding; and a growing demand for electricity which can outstrip supply.
We must ensure that our infrastructure and service delivery can adapt to new and unforeseen challenges in the future, and benefits generated that contribute to individual, community, or systems resilience – what are known as co-benefits – must be identified and supported. This will enable us to optimise the social, environmental, and economic impact of our investments in infrastructure and service provision.
By undertaking the nine identified initiatives, we hope that Accra will become a city that not only plans for today’s residents and current context, but one that anticipates future growth, challenges, and is prepared for future unknown social, environmental, and physical risks that our city may face.
The priority initiative for this pillar acknowledges the significance of trotros in meeting the transportation needs of Accra’s residents, and the interdependencies between the trotro system and the city’s nascent Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) System. The AMA, in partnership with key actors, will embark on a trotro upgrading program and increase enforcement of road rules and regulations, with the goal of improving the quality of the entire public transport system in Accra.
A City that optimises the use of new and existing resources to proactively serve citizens with greater accountability and transparency.
The City of Accra aspires to build and support healthy and resilient urban communities, where residents thrive and can realise their full potential. The resources available to Accra to achieve such an ambitious goal are however limited. Therefore, accountability and transparency in resource allocation and outcome measurement are particularly crucial for advancing this agenda. Creating a culture of accountability and transparency will require the collective efforts of the AMA, residents, and a broad stakeholder community.
Our city must embark upon a new social contract to improve residents’ trust in the spirit of civic partnership. We believe resident engagement and feedback are important elements for increasing accountability of the AMA and service providers, that will warrant greater accountability for all. Engendering trust between Accra’s residents and the AMA will require strengthening our existing assets: our staff capacity, revenue mobilisation, and the collection, deployment, and analysis of data for evidence-based decision-making.
Increasing engagement between the AMA and its people is a core part of shaping Accra’s resilience. Doing so will lead to greater citizen support for, willingness to invest in (through taxes and rates), and use of AMA’s programs and development efforts. Expanded engagement with citizens will also allow for better data collection to ensure that the AMA’s investments are meeting the specific needs of the community – improving municipal service delivery for all, especially our city’s most vulnerable populations.
The priority initiative for this pillar will use better deployment of data and the development of stronger enforcement mechanisms to improve the capacity of AMA staff to regulate and enforce waste collection in Accra, thereby providing better oversight of waste collection service providers.
A City that embraces informality in its urban systems to harness its contribution to resilience building.
The informal economy is heterogeneous and complex, offering both opportunities and lessons on resilience and livelihoods. There is growing acknowledgement of informality as a mainstay in Africa’s urbanisation narrative, and in Accra the informal sector has reached such a significant scale that it cannot be ignored. Over 80% of the urban population participates in the informal economy, making this a critical contributor to Ghana’s GDP.
Undoubtedly, rising urbanisation will lead to increasing informality, both in the economy and in the built environment. If properly understood and worked with, informal systems can increase inclusion as well as strengthen the performance of the formal sector.
Accra must approach informality with a hybrid of innovative approaches, both new and existing, that can improve the quality of life and reduce harm for residents that work or live in this sector. The human rights of residents of informal settlements need to be recognised through access to basic services, including safe drinking water, sanitation, and shelter. Workers in the informal economy need access to appropriate safety nets. The recognition of the symbiotic relationship between the informal and formal sectors will aid in developing a resilient city.
Informality knows no geographic boundaries, and the AMA remains poised to provide leadership in cross-jurisdictional coalition building at the Greater Accra regional level.
Finally, a new approach to informality must consider integration between the formal and informal sectors to ensure a co-existence, which ultimately fosters improved economic, social, and environmental benefits for all of Accra’s residents.
The priority initiatives for this pillar will provide cross-jurisdictional leadership for upgrading select informal settlements at the Greater Accra regional level, and work with informal settlements located in flood-prone areas to collaboratively design and implement flood-hazard land management guidelines with residents.