The chairman of the National Development Planning Commission (NDPC), Paul Victor Obeng, has made a passionate appeal to district chief executives to as a matter of urgency; work hard to create more urban cities and towns in their areas of jurisdiction, so as to meet the growing demands of urbanisation in the country.
“I am urging you to strive hard to create more ‘Accras’ in your area of operations, so as to ease the rural-urban migration in the country,” Mr. Obeng said when he launched a US$175 million World Bank and Government of Ghana, Local Government Capacity Support Project (LGCSP) at Saltpond on Thursday.
According to him, Ghana’s urban growth had moved from 25% to 54%, and that there was the urgent need for the district, municipal and metropolitan assemblies to utilise the resources available to meet the growing demands of urbanisation in the country.
He added that it was high time the country moved away from centralised administration to a stage where each district would have it own model capital, to reduce overcrowding in Accra and other regional capitals.
He further contended that Ghana had already attained political decentralisation, adding it was now time for the assemblies to stimulate economic growth to meet the challenges of the fast urbanisation growth in the country.
He, therefore, appealed to district assemblies to make judicious use of the funds made available to them to accelerate economic development, so as to attract more funds from the international donors to sustain the project.
The Minister of Local Government and Rural Development, Mr. Samuel Ofosu Ampofo, said Ghana had achieved a lot over the years in the area of decentralisation, but was quick to say that rapid urbanisation, owing to increased in population, posed greater challenges in the area of social services such potable water, electricity supply, traffic congestion and urban poverty.
This, he said, the LGCSP sought to address, and called on the assemblies to work hard to achieve those set targets.
Giving an overview of the project, Deputy Minister of Local Government Elvis Afiiyie Ankrah said the project was targeting 46 districts, municipal and metropolitan assemblies, and it was expected to be implemented over five years.
The Central Regional Minister, Madam Ama Benyiwa Doe, commended the World Bank and Government of Ghana for initiating the project, and called for total commitment in the implementation of the project.
She called for social accountability, which she noted, formed part of the Better Ghana Agenda of the government.
A World Bank representative, Romana Huque, said the funds were ready for the implementation of the project, pointing out that the World Bank had shifted its focus from financing projects to capacity support projects, and warned that the success of the programme depended on the desire and will of the assemblies to use the money for the purpose intended.
The Member of Parliament for Mfantseman West, Aquinas Tawiah Quansah, who doubles as Deputy Minister for Local Government and Rural Development, pledged to rehabilitate the Saltpond Vitoria Park next year, for the purpose of public gatherings.
The Municipal Chief Executive of Mfantseman, Henry Kweku Hayfron, expressed gratitude to the Local Government Ministry for launching the project in his area.
He added that the funds had come at a time the District Assembly Common Fund could not meet the growing demand for social services, and also called for more of such interventions.