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OBJECTIVES OF THE STUDY
FINDINGS AND DISCUSSIONS
Urbanization has the propensity to improve human living standard by promoting socio-economic development. However, recent studies indicate that African urbanization tends to complicate urban poverty, stagnate socio-economic development, and disrupt urban functionality. Unfortunately, African urbanization is expected to drastically increase in the foreseeable future with the continent predicted to become home to about 1.3 billion of the global urban population by 2050.This current and expected increase in African urbanization has implications for the development of the countries in Africa and the continent as a whole. This study therefore examines urbanization in Ghana and its challenges and prospects for national development. Secondary data were used for the study. More than half of Ghana’s population live in urban areas. There is, however, no uniformity across all the regions in the country. The trend in urbanization by region from 1960 to 2010 increased consistently in the proportion of the population living in urban areas.
About 60 percent of the growth in urban population in Ghana could be attributed to natural increase with migration contributing to about 40 percent of the growth during 2000-2010. The challenges of rapid urbanization to national development can be categorized into economic, environmental, health and social. In spite of the numerous challenges of rapid urbanization to Ghana’s development, it has made urban areas potent instruments for national economic and social development, attracting investments and wealth creation
Keywords : Urbanization, urban primacy, challenges, prospects, national development
Urbanization refers to the population shift from rural to urban areas, "the gradual increase in the proportion of people living in urban areas", and the ways in which each society adapts to the change. The process whereby a society changes from a rural to an urban way of life (National Library of Medicine [NLM], 2014). The meaning of urbanization has increasingly been described by Cobbinah et al. (2015a) as a demographic, ecological, sociological and economic occurrence that congregates people in urban areas and has the would-be to either fuel or impede development of these areas –in both developed and developing countries. Presently, about 54% of the world’s population is urban, with such trend expected to continue to nearly 70% by 2050 with increasing concentration in urban Africa and Asia (United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs/Population Division [UNDESA/PD], 2012; UNHABITAT, 2009). For example, Africa is predicted to become a home to nearly quarter (1.3 billion) of the world’s urban population by 2050, with the growth in urban population characterized by debilitating socio-economic and environmental consequences (UNDESA/PD, 2012). In such a situation, the future of urban Africa appears gloomy, as projections indicate that between 2020 and 2050, the continent would be the fastest urbanizing region in the world with urbanization rates of between 35 and 60% (UNHABITAT, 2009, 2012).
Traditionally, the process of urbanization has been characterized by socio-economic development often driven by radical transformations in agricultural productivity and industrialization (Cobbinah et al., 2015a). Undoubtedly, developing countries such as China have demonstrated a much better ability towards realizing the benefits of urbanization through improved economic development (Cohen, 2006). However, African urbanization is occurring without such important socio-economic transformation necessary for improving living conditions and protecting the environment (Cobbinah et al., 2015b). Ghana’s urbanization trajectory is no exception, due to limited transformation of the production structure through industrialization and agricultural modernization. In the 1980s Ghana was predicted to have over 50% of urban population by 2020 and emphasized the need for more robust policy strategies to cope with associated consequences (Nabila, 1988). According to official statistics out of 24,658,823 population of Ghana, about 50.9% is urban, with the country set to become increasingly urbanized (Ghana Statistical Service [GSS], 2012). The level of urbanization in Ghana is phenomenal considering relatively low levels of past trends: 9.4% in 1931, 13.9% in 1948, 23% in 1960, 28.9% in 1970, 31.3% in 1984 and 43.9 in 2000 (GSS, 2012).
However, such drastic increasing trends since the turn of the 21st century have adverse consequences for the management of both natural and the built environments as well as socio-economic wellbeing of urban residents. Complicating matters further is the dynamics of Ghanaian urbanization, characterized by regional disparities. According to Osei-Bonsu (2012) rapid urbanization which has become a common place in Ghana has skewed development efforts towards urban areas resulting in slowdown in population growth in many rural areas due to out-migration and overconcentration in the big cities such as Accra (national capital), Kumasi (second largest city) and Sekondi-Takoradi (third largest city). The rapid concentration of rural population in Ghanaian cities is recognized as the beginning of a slow but gradual process of marked disparities in development between the northern and southern parts of Ghana, and between urban and rural areas (Osei-Bonsu, 2012).
OBJECTIVES OF THE STUDY
The overall objective of the study was to assess urbanization in Ghana, its challenges and prospects for national development. The specific objectives of the study were to;
1. Examine the level and trends of urbanization in Ghana,
2. Analyze urbanization patterns in Ghana,
3. Identify the causes of urbanization in Ghana and,
4. Explore the challenges and prospects of urbanization in Ghana for national development.
1. What is/are the level and trends of urbanization in Ghana?
2. What are the patterns of urbanization in Ghana?
3. What are the causes of urbanization in Ghana?
4. What are the challenges and prospects of urbanization in Ghana for national development?
The study reviewed literature on the concept of urbanization, dimensions of urbanization, urban primacy, over-urbanization and urban sprawl.
Concept of urbanization
Urbanization is the social process that leads to the creation of cities. Thus, the relationship between cities and urbanization is one of cause and effect. According to United Nations (2014), the process of urbanization describes a shift in a population from one that is dispersed across small rural settlements in which agriculture is the dominant economic activity towards one where the population is concentrated in larger, dense urban settlements characterized by industrial and service activities. Urbanization refers both to a condition at a point in time and to a process occurring over time. The level of urbanization is indicated by the percentage of a population that is living in urban areas. The process of urbanization has been used in several ways. These include migration from rural areas to urban areas, absolute growth in the urban population (urban growth) and urban growth that is faster than rural growth. Hence, urbanization as a process implies an increase in the percentage urban and the rate of urbanization, thus, refers to the growth rate in the level of urbanization.
Lampard (1966) outlines three broad conceptions of urbanization that have gained currency in the social sciences. They are: the behavioural, the structural and the demographic conceptions. The behavioural concept perceives urbanization as an adjustment of personal behaviour in the sense that it focuses on the conduct of individuals. Certain patterns of behaviour or thought, regardless of social environment and locality are said to be urban. Hence the process of urbanization is one experienced by individuals over time. The structural concept ignoring the patterned behaviour of individual persons focuses on the patterned activities of whole populations. The process of urbanization then involves the movement of people out of agricultural communities into other and generally larger non-agricultural communities. The demographic approach focuses on the space and defines urbanization as a process of population concentration.
It is in this tradition of demographic approach that Kingsley Davis (1965) has used the term urbanization in a particular way. As per Davis, it refers to the proportion of the total population concentrated in urban settlements, or else to a rise in this proportion. For him, urbanization is a finite process, a cycle through which nations go in their transition from agrarian to industrial society. To Davis, urbanization is the movement of people from agricultural into industrial employment, which leads to urban living
For Tisdale (1942), urbanization is the process of population concentration. It proceeds in two ways: the multiplication of the points of concentration and the increase in the size of individual concentration. It implies a movement, not necessarily direct, steady or continuous, from a state of non-urbanism to a state of complete urbanism, or rather from a state of less concentration to a state of more concentration.
Mitchell (1956) regards urbanization as the process of becoming urban, the movement of people or processes to urban areas, increase of urban areas, population or processes. He clearly identifies dual aspects of the definition of urbanization. One is the demographic aspect which implies movement to the urban areas and the second is a sociological frame of reference which implies change in behaviour as a result of living in town. The urban way of life is marked by a distinctive way of living.
Thompson (1935) has defined urbanization as characterized by movement of people from small communities concerned principally with agriculture to other communities generally larger, whose activities are primarily centred in government, trade, manufacture or allied interest. Urbanization involves basic changes in the thinking and behaviour of people and changes in their social values (Anderson, 1960).
Dimensions of urbanization
A place can be defined as urban or rural on the basis of size of the settlement. Urban areas have a higher concentration of population in a limited area and thus a higher density. The criteria used in the definition of urban locality fall into five categories: demographic, economic, social, morphological and functional. Demographic dimension is the simplest criterion used to identify a place as urban, however, the main drawback of this criterion is disagreement on the cut-off point. The economic criterion delineates a settlement as rural or urban on the basis of occupation of the working population. Agriculture qualifies as a nonurban occupation whereas the urban occupations include secondary and tertiary services. Thus, the non-agricultural occupational profile of a settlement qualifies it as urban. The social criterion includes the features of new value systems and patterns of behaviour prevalent in the urban places. The morphological criterion expresses itself in terms of the difference in appearance of the spatial units whereas the functional criterion determines a place as urban in terms of the role it plays with respect to other settlements.
The United Nations Demographic Yearbook (1955), definition of ‘urban’ fall into three major types:
1) Classification of minor civil divisions on chosen criteria which may include; a) type of local government b) number of inhabitants c) proportion of population engaged in agriculture.
2) Classification of administrative centres of minor rural division as urban and the remainder of the division as rural and
3) Classification of certain size localities as urban irrespective of administrative boundaries.
In the Indian context, from 1901 the census organization have come up with its own set of criteria in the definition of a place as urban. However, the criteria have changed from time to time. But for the year 1971 and 1981 the census has used the same criteria which has given stability to the definition of urban. The census of India 1981 defines a place as urban:
A) Any place with a municipality, corporation, or cantonment or notified town area or
B) Any other place which satisfies the following criteria:
1. A minimum population of 5000.
2. At least 75 percent of the male working population engaged in non-agricultural and allied activity
3. A population density of at least 400 per square kilometres (or 1000 per square mile).
Urban primacy is conceptualized as the extent to which the first city of a national urban system stands out in both influence and population. It is measured simply in terms of population: as the percentage of the total urban population residing in the largest city. In many countries of the world like U.K, France, Netherlands, Thailand and Philippines, the largest city accounts for as much as one-fifth of the country’s population. The possible reasons for the emergence of primate cities has been explained by Mark Jefferson (1939) in His theory as cited by Manzoor and Iram (2018) which focuses on the forces of agglomeration and cumulative effects of agglomeration in the growth of large cities. Once a town or a city attains a premier position in a nation or region, it tends to retain that position and in actual fact grows faster than other towns and cities. Eventually it tends to overshadow all other cities or even retard their growth. However, the primate city due to its centrality, faces stark challenges in terms of population overload and the required urban facilities and infrastructure.
Primacy is considered to be undesirable because of the fact that it negatively impacts the urban system of a country. Primate cities contribute to an imbalanced urban system. The prevalence of primate cities is related to low levels of socioeconomic development and early phases of growth. Hauser (1957) thus, labeled the primate city as “parasitic” rather than “generative” because of the reason that it retards the development of other cities.
The idea dates back to 1954 when Hozelitz advanced the thesis that urbanization in developing nations could be too great given the industrial mix of their economies. As per the proponents of this thesis, the process of urbanization in third world countries is incapable of yielding positive and dynamic forces of social change, as it was in the developed world.
Sovani (1964), in defining over-urbanization, used two indices which were the percentage of population living in urban areas, and the distribution of the total labour force in the country as between agricultural and nonagricultural occupations. The labor force in these great cities continue to swell due to unabated migration from the country-side, resulting in the high rate of unemployment and underemployment in the cities.
Modern usage of the term sprawl was coined by Earle Draper in 1937, one of the first city planners in the southeast United States as cited by Manzoor and Iram (2018). Since the introduction of the term by Draper, popular concern on this issue has grown substantially. Different scholars have used it in a variety of ways, according to their focus of research. Johnson (2001) noted that urban sprawl is not binary with only two categories sprawl and non-sprawl but occurs to different degrees on a continuous scale. Urban sprawl is defined as the spreading of the city and its suburbs over rural land at the fringe of an urban area. Urban sprawl is characterized by certain features. These features are low density, leap frog development, segregated land use, consummation of large quantities of exurban agricultural land, reliance on automobiles and lack of integrated land use plan.
According to Gordon and Richardson (1997) sprawling city patterns are the efficient outcome of markets, just affected by external effects due to transportation subsidies, land-use regulations and other market distortions. Urban sprawl however, is deemed as highly unsustainable, affecting all the three dimensions of sustainability which are ecological, social and economic. As urban sprawl occurs on the outskirts of cities, it is characterized by unplanned dispersed urban development and high land consumption per capita.
The study extensively used secondary data mainly from Ghana Statistical Service and other relevant literature available. The secondary data were analyzed, interpreted and discussed to help to answer the research questions.
FINDINGS AND DISCUSSIONS
Level of urbanization by region
Table 1 indicates that a little over half of Ghana’s population live in urban localities. There is, however, no uniformity across all the regions in the country. As is presented in Table 1, urbanization varies in Ghana by region from as high as almost 91 percent in the Greater Accra Region to as low as 16 percent in Upper West Region. Ashanti Region comes next to Greater Accra as the most urbanized with almost 61 percent of its population living in urban areas. Greater Accra being the most urbanized region in Ghana may be attributed to its position as the host of the nation’s capital city and also the nation’s largest commercial centre. Similarly, Kumasi is located in the Ashanti Region and it the second largest city in the country, thereby influencing the level of urbanization in the region. The Central Region is also close to attaining a 50 percent population living in urban localities while the other regions particularly the three northern regions are around 40% or lower in terms of population living in urban areas.
Table 1: Level of urbanization by region, 2010
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Source: Adapted from Ghana Statistical Service, 2010 Population and Housing Census
Urbanization trends in Ghana
Table 2: Urbanization trends in Ghana, 2010
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Source: Ghana Statistical Service, 2010 Population and Housing Census
Table 2 indicates that the trend in urbanization by region from 1960 to 2010 increased consistently in the proportion of the population living in urban areas in the regions except in the Western, Central and Greater Accra regions where in 1984 there were declines before picking up again in 2000. It could also be noted that in 1970 and 1984, the Volta Region was among the three least urbanized regions in the country alongside Upper East and Upper West but in 2000. However, in 2010 the level of urbanization in Volta Region was higher than the Northern Region and that made Northern Region to become one of the three least urbanized regions in the country. The trend in urbanization in Ghana shows that the regions with the least proportion of population living in urban localities are also the regions that have been noted for recording high volumes of out-migration. This suggests that migration has an ultimate role to play in the rate of urbanization in any geographical region.
Causes of urbanization in Ghana
The causes of urbanization can be conceived in three main contexts. These are differences in natural increase between geographical areas, the extent of migration and government policies which directly or indirectly influence the pace and dynamics of urbanization, including the re-classification of districts as part of the decentralization processes in Ghana.
Internal migration has for a long time been an important factor for population redistribution in Ghana. Spatially, development has been quite uneven in the country. There is generally a north-south development divide which had made regions that are relatively less developed to be the regions of largely out-migration to others perceived to be more developed and offer socio-economic opportunities for enhancement of livelihoods. Thus, regions in the southern part of the country have over the years been more recipient of migrant population from other regions in the country particularly the northern regions.
The natural increase in population is the most predominant cause of urbanization in Ghana. The natural increase in population is the difference between births and deaths even in the absence of migration. The interplay between births and deaths determines the rate at which the population of any geographical area grows naturally such that where births far exceed deaths, the population grows rapidly and in no time may exceed the threshold population for an urban area. In Ghana, regions with large numbers of people added to the population annually are likely to move from rural to urban status. Ghana appears to have a declining mortality and much faster fertility, thereby creating a situation where the number of people that is added to the population becomes quite substantial each passing year, and consequently rapidly increases urbanization with or without migration taking place. In Ghana, fertility rate varies from one region to another and even within any one region, there is no uniformity (GSS, 2012).
As shown in Table 3, the Greater Accra Region has consistently recorded the highest volume of net in-migration in the country. Between 1984 and 2010, the volume of net in-migration increased from 153,154 through 901,780 in 2000 to over one million in 2010. The Western and Brong Ahafo regions also recorded net in-migration in all three census years although the volume in each region reduced in 2000 before rising again in 2010. On the other hand, Ashanti Region which recorded a negative volume of net migration in 1984 as indicated by Table 3 has been associated with positive net migration in both 2000 and 2010. The rest of the regions have all been characterized by net out-migration in all three census years except the Northern Region which in 1984 was a net in-migration region but became net out-migrant in both 2000 and 2010. The increased volume of migrants into a region determines the rate at which that region becomes urbanized as the volume of migration contributes to increasing the population to reach the minimum threshold to qualify as urbanized region
Table 3: Volume of net-migration by region, 1984-2010
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Source: *Ghana Statistical Service (2005), Population Data Analysis Report volume 2 p.40 **Generated from 2010, Population and Housing Census
Table 4: Contribution of migration and natural increase to urban population growth by region
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Source: Adapted from *Ghana Statistical Service (2005), Population Data Analysis Report volume 2 p.407 ** Generated from 2010, Population and Housing Census
It could be observed from Table 4 that almost 60 percent of the growth in urban population in Ghana could be attributed to natural increase with migration contributing to about 40 percent of the growth during 2000-2010. Compared to 1984-2000, there is a slight increase of migration’s contribution to urban population growth by some four percentage points. A similar higher proportion of contribution to urban growth by natural increase in almost all the regions was recorded except in Central and Volta regions where the contribution of migration to urban population growth in 2000-2010 was higher than that by natural increase. It could also be noted that migration’s contribution to urban growth increased in only three regions: Greater Accra, Central and Northern between 1984-2000 and 2000-2010 while in the remaining seven regions, migration’s role saw a decrease during the same period.
Government development policies such as decentralization and area re-classification also influence urban population in Ghana. In the course of the implementation of the decentralization system of administration, many more districts were created. For example, in 1988, 45 new districts were created to add to the 65 existing ones, thereby increasing the total number of districts to 110. Since then, many more districts have been created as a way of bringing governance closer to the people for effective planning and development. Currently, there are 260 districts in Ghana, implying that many otherwise rural settlements have been elevated to district capitals and as a result, attracted high rates of growth to become urban localities. This has come about largely due to the provision of some minimum infrastructure that often accompany the elevation of localities to the status of district capital.
Challenges of urbanization to national development
Ghana as a nation has over the years been experiencing an accelerated shift of her populations from rural to urban areas. This rapid rate of urbanization has no doubt brought several challenges including inadequate financial resources, insufficient employment opportunities, spreading homelessness and expansion of squatter settlements, increased poverty, growing insecurity and rising crime rates, deteriorating social services and infrastructure. Other problems include substandard and inadequate housing, slums, transportation problems, low productivity, crime and juvenile delinquency, inadequate health and educational facilities, improper land use, insecure land tenure, rising traffic congestion, increasing pollution, insufficient inadequate water supply and poor sanitation, unplanned urban development and an increasing vulnerability to disaster.
The challenges of urbanization to national development can be categorized into economic, environmental, health and social.
Economic challenges: As cities develop, effects can include a dramatic increase and change in costs, often placing the local working class out of the market. In many cases, the rural-urban low skilled or unskilled migrant workers, attracted by economic opportunities in urban areas, cannot find a job and afford housing in cities and have to dwell in slums (Benedictus, 2017). Urban problems, along with infrastructure developments, are also fueling suburbanization trends in in Ghana, though the trend for core cities in the country tends to continue to become ever denser.
Environmental challenges: The existence of Urban heat islands has become a growing concern over the years. Vehicles, factories and industrial and domestic heating and cooling units release even more heat (Glaeser, 1998). The mix of changing environmental conditions and the growing population of urban regions, according to UN experts, will strain basic sanitation systems and health care, and potentially cause a humanitarian and environmental disaster (WESS, 2013).
Health and social challenges: Urbanization brings about unequal society and that inequality is manifested where people live, in our neighborhoods, and it means there can be less capacity for empathy and less development for all society (Auber, 2013).
Urban health levels are on average better in comparison to rural areas. However, residents in poor urban areas such as slums and informal settlements suffer "disproportionately from disease, injury, premature death, and the combination of ill-health and poverty entrenches disadvantage over time (Allender et al., 2008). Fast food is often food of choice in the urban areas which is causing a decline in health (Food and Agriculture Organization, 2004). Easier access to non-traditional foods may lead to less healthy dietary patterns (Sridhar, 2007). In general, major risk factors for chronic diseases are more prevalent in urban environments (Davis et al., 1954).
Prospects for national development
A greater proportion of the population residing in the urban areas scramble for the resources available. This has made cities potent instruments for national economic and social development, attracting investments and wealth creation. Social development, human and technological resources resulting in unprecedented gains in productivity and competitiveness are potentials of urbanization. Indeed, cities are the repositories of knowledge and the agents of socio-political change.
In terms of economic output, urban areas represent a much larger share of gross domestic product (GDP) than their share of the population. The very concentration of such activity in cities may lead to more efficient markets and hence promote development, both urban and rural (Kessides, 2006). Similarly, urban centres have been repeatedly identified as privileged sites, hosting the core of modern economic and social functions, with superior amenities and services often stemming from both economic advantages of scale and proximity and political advantages of leverage (Lipton, 1976; Lowry, 1990; Chen et al, 1998). Hence, social indicators usually show urban advantages in public health, associated with improved access to modern health services, safe water and sanitation (Montgomery et al, 2003).
A little over half of Ghana’s population live in urban localities. There is, however, no uniformity across all the regions in the country. Urbanization varies in Ghana by region from as high as almost 91 percent in the Greater Accra Region to as low as 16 percent in Upper West Region.
The trend in urbanization by region from 1960 to 2010 increased consistently in the proportion of the population living in urban areas in the regions except in the Western, Central and Greater Accra regions where in 1984 there were declines before picking up again in 2000. It could also be noted that in 1970 and 1984, the Volta Region was among the three least urbanized regions in the country alongside Upper East and Upper West but in 2000.
About 60 percent of the growth in urban population in Ghana could be attributed to natural increase with migration contributing to about 40 percent of the growth during 2000-2010. Compared to 1984-2000, there is a slight increase of migration’s contribution to urban population growth by some four percentage points. A similar higher proportion of contribution to urban growth by natural increase in almost all the regions was recorded except in Central and Volta regions where the contribution of migration to urban population growth in 2000-2010 was higher than that by natural increase.
The rapid rate of urbanization has no doubt brought several challenges including inadequate financial resources, insufficient employment opportunities, spreading homelessness and expansion of squatter settlements, increased poverty, growing insecurity and rising crime rates, deteriorating social services and infrastructure. The challenges of urbanization to national development can be categorized into economic, environmental, health and social.
A greater proportion of the population residing in the urban areas scramble for the resources available. This has made cities potent instruments for national economic and social development, attracting investments and wealth creation. Social development, human and technological resources resulting in unprecedented gains in productivity and competitiveness are potentials of urbanization for national development.
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- Clarke Owusu (Author), 2021, Urbanization in Ghana. Challenges and Prospects for National Development, Munich, GRIN Verlag, https://www.grin.com/document/1034782