Ghana Business report [Housing]: where to from here?

Ghana’s housing deficit currently stands at 1.6 million units, and escalates with each passing year.  A programme by the Ghana Business Report recently explored four reasons contributing to the housing crisis in Ghana, and explored some of the possible solutions:

1.  Land use management: Ghana does not have a comprehensive land management plan, and this makes it unable to respond to the high rate of urbanisation. In 2009 over 50% of the population in Ghana were urban dwellers and the figures were projected to reach 65% by 2030. The programme reports that Ghana’s lack of a spatial plan is already translating into the mismanagement of land because people build wherever they want to build.  Many metropolitan areas are said to already be in a state of chaos, the majority of these areas are characterised by “high incidence of malaria, cholera, and other environmental related diseases. Piped water is unreliable, solid waste management is abysmal; homes are built without permits and in flood prone areas. Majority of homes in the suburbs have no roads water or sewerage connections.” (Fordjour, 2009) There is a clear need for urban planning in Ghana to insure that land is proficiently handled.

2.  Access to land: Ghana ranked second last in terms of the registry efficiency index, with the registration of title deeds taking 120 days.  The land ownership system is still inefficient and in some instances, multiple registrations can be found on the same piece of land.  In some states, land registration is not required by law.  Developers see this as a significant risk.  In states where land registration is required, the costs associated with the professional survey requirements are high and militate against compliance.

The Ghana Business Report episode reported on a number of solutions to the land registration challenges.  One solution is to require all land owners to register their land, however this is very expensive. Some suggest that government should absorb the costs of land surveying, or purchase the land itself. Government capacity, both financial and administrative, to undertake these measures is limited, however.

3.  Cost of building materials: A 50kg bag of cement costs between $8.55 and $11.18. The high cost of cement is due to the monopolised industry of cement production. The programme suggests that this can be remedied by creating an environment whereby other companies can also produce cement.  Cement substitutes, while attractive, have not been well received in the housing market. It then becomes a matter of changing people’s perceptions. Another problem that emerged was that most (80%) of the houses in Ghana are built using imported materials such as: glass, doors, nails, sinks, tiles and many other materials. The programme advocates that the Ghanaian government should address these issues through its economic policies.

4.  Access to housing finance:  Few lenders offer housing credit, and those that do are not within the reach of the majority of the population. Borrowing costs are very high, with a lending rate of around thirty percent. The programme advocates for a partnership between government, financial institutions and real estate developers. Policies and programmes have to be in place coupled with a strong regulatory framework otherwise people will find alternative ways to shelter themselves.

The issue of land and land management necessitates commitment from the government in order to change policies that hinder development. Increasing annual urbanisation rates add further pressure upon the landscape, and due to the absence of an effective land management plan the urban space deteriorates as informal settlements sprout. Dispute over land and land registration exacerbate the situation by deterring developers from entering the housing market, especially within the affordable income bracket. Where to from here? The situation has been analysed and issues have been highlighted, solutions will need to be practically aligned to the Ghanaian government’s capacity. There should always be dialogue between the private and the public sectors because it is only through partnership that the housing backlog can be addressed.

The Ghana Business Report is a 30 minute monthly television report centred on business related themes. The report is televised as a documentary and its aim is to provide “financial literacy, entrepreneurship and business development”. The DVD was commissioned by Channel Two Communications, a communications and media company based in Accra (Ghana). The documentary aired on Thursday, 20th October 2011. 


The documentary (DVD) can be accessed through the Channel Two Communications website:


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2 responses to “Ghana Business report [Housing]: where to from here?

  1. I appreciate the rhetorical question “where to from here?” Clearly these identified hindrances would keep us at a standstill if serious action is not taken NOW! Clearly thinking and producing properties haven’t helped us yet, there are still housing deficits to meet. In my view we need to just stop the “bus” so to speak to help with the following;
    i. To carry out a full needs analysis research (housing profile already tested by Graham Tippler etal, what have we done with that since 2010 or so?)
    ii. Findings of the research can then be factored into the National working/workable (sustainable) Housing Policy document, which would address these identified hindrances and many more
    iii. Design implementation spatial plans that would show and set deliverable targets and give hope to the ordinary person
    iv. Setup/use existing companies as delivery vehicles of carrying out these policies/plans
    v. Education, education, education – practical housing professionals who will candidly see to the fulfilment of these policies without politicalising implementation but enable and/or facilitate them successfully
    With these and others we could identify and answer “where to from here” to prevent uncompleted projects and expectations
    Your comments please

    1. Hi Helen, thank you for your comment. You most certainly are right; we need to start taking a more radical approach in addressing the housing backlogs. The basics of which is to start by making access to land readily available, once that is done land management systems need to be put into place to attend to the current problem of urban sprawl or a laissez faire attitude about land.

      “Where to from here” we know what the problems are as they have been reported on extensively, so how do we then respond to putting into practice such? There needs to be a starting point, from then onwards incremental steps will have to be taken to prevent political influences or uncompleted projects.

      In the report, A Practical Guide for Conducting: Housing Profiles, Tipple et al discussed similar constraints (as those listed above) to the performance of the housing sector [access to land, infrastructure, housing finance, building materials and labour/employment]. All of this does not mean much if there is no commitment from government and the private sector. One cannot be successful without the other. A recent article from Ghana Web revealed that the Ghanaian government planned to build 500 new affordable housing units in collaboration with a South African company, so governments are showing initiative within this regard.