Urban-Rural Disparities

Ghana Table of Contents

Localities of 5,000 persons and above have been classified as urban since 1960. On this basis, the 1960 urban population totalled 1,551,174 persons, or 23.1 percent of total population. By 1970, the percentage of the country's population residing in urban centers had increased to 28 percent. That percentage rose to 32 in 1984 and was estimated at 33 percent for 1992.

Like the population density figures, the rate of urbanization varied from one administrative region to another. While the Greater Accra Region showed an 83-percent urban residency, the Ashanti Region matched the national average of 32 percent in 1984. The Upper West Region of the country recorded only 10 percent of its population in urban centers that year, which reflected internal migration to the south and the pattern of development that favored the south, with its minerals and forest resources, over the north. Urban areas in Ghana have customarily been supplied with more amenities than rural locations. Consequently, Kumasi, Accra, and many towns within the southern economic belt attracted more people than the savanna regions of the north; only Tamale in the north has been an exception. The linkage of the national electricity grid to the northern areas of the country in the late 1980s may help to stabilize the north-to-south flow of internal migration.

The growth of urban population notwithstanding, Ghana continued to be a nation of rural communities. The 1984 enumeration showed that six of the country's ten regions had rural populations of 5 percent or more above the national average of 68 percent. Rural residency was estimated to be 67 percent of the population in 1992. These figures, though reflecting a trend toward urban residency, were not very different from the 1970s when about 72 percent of the nation's population lived in rural areas.

In an attempt to perpetuate this pattern of rural-urban residency and thereby to lessen the consequent socioeconomic impact on urban development, the "Rural Manifesto," which assessed the causes of rural underdevelopment, was introduced in April 1984. Development strategies were evaluated, and some were implemented to make rural residency more attractive. As a result, the Bank of Ghana established more than 120 rural banks to support rural entrepreneurs, and the rural electrification program was intensified in the late 1980s. The government, moreover, presented its plans for district assemblies as a component of its strategy for rural improvement through decentralized administration, a program designed to allow local people to become more involved in planning development programs to meet local needs.

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Source: U.S. Library of Congress