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Infrastructure development in Ghana: wealth creation or wealth consumption?

Infrastructure development in Ghana: wealth creation or wealth consumption?
Source: Ghana|Professor Divine K. Ahadzie Head, Centre for Settlements Studies, College of Art and Built Environment, KNUST
Date: 16-07-2019 Time: 11:07:33:am

It has long been established that, construction industry is the engine of growth of any economy. This is because, almost every socio-economic activity requires some form of infrastructure facility,for example, schools, hospitals, markets, roads, shopping mall and factories to engender projected economic development.

However, before a nation can rely on infrastructure facility to engender the appropriate accelerated development, the industry has to be used for WEALTH CREATION and not WEALTH CONSUMPTION.

Surprisingly, Ghana as a country is yet to come to terms with this basic economic philosophy as evidenced in locked up capital, numerous abandoned projects and completed projects which have turned into white elephants. Abandoned school blocks, road construction and the affordable housing projects were common discussion points in the previous regime.

Presently, projects like the Legon Hospital, Kasoa Hospital, Tepa Hospital, Sagleme Housing Project, Komenda Sugar Factory are also common discussion points in the news.Excessive delays on projects and poor-quality construction have also been associated with infrastructure development in Ghana for decades.

For a country that claims to be lower middle income and seeking to be high middle income, it needs a vibrant construction industry to be able to drive the agenda of accelerated development and this includes a deliberate concerted attempt in using industry for job creation and growth and not to consume wealth.  As it is now, the evidence points to the fact that the industry is being used to consume wealth, and if the status quo is to remain, then we might as well forget about seeking to develop as a middle income economy.

Sad to say that, the various professional bodies in the country, although would claim they are doing their best, have in my view not taken the government to task when it reneges on construction industry development activities and initiatives in the country. Presently, the professional bodies, unfortunately appear to be more interested in promoting their own individual interest.

It is for this reason that many have called for the institution of a Construction Industry Development Board and/or Infrastructural Development Board to help provide a holistic infrastructure development agenda towards reaping the full benefits of the construction industry. The reality is that, as in all management activities, time is of essence and this is perhaps truer for the activities of the construction industry.

The industry thrives on the time value of money and that is why it is crucial to deliver projects on schedule and putting to them use immediately. There is therefore a need for a nationalistic rethink on the way infrastructure development is handled from inception to completion if Ghana is indeed to use the sector to drive the much desired developmental agenda of the country.