The Institute of Statistical Social and Economic Research (ISSER) of the University of Ghana, Legon, has held a lecture series on the land value capture potentials under the Greater Accra Resilient and Integrated Development (GARID) Project and how transcalar politics influence the design and implementation of the Project.

Opening the workshop, a Professor of Urban Geography at the Institute, Professor George Owusu, said the purpose of the meeting was to share perspectives among developmental actors on how projects covering large-scale infrastructure, such as the GARID Project, are shaping urbanization with a developmental circuit involving the private sector, government, and other sovereign actors in Africa.  He expressed hope that the discussions at the workshop will help improve and devise an inclusive and sustainable approach to large-scale urban infrastructure in Ghana.

Professor George Owusu addressing participants at the workshop

In his presentation on the land value capture potentials under the GARID Project, the Project Coordinator, Dr. Kwadwo Ohene Sarfoh, explained how the idea of land value capture evolved in the preparation and design of the interventions under the GARID project. According to Dr, Sarfoh, the process involved different multinational actors such as Deloitte and Touche, Bokslabbers (a Dutch planning consultancy) and ARS Progetti (an Italian engineering services consultancy).

The Project Coordinator said, “The considerations culminated in the identification of four different sites with good prospects for land value capture. However, the rationale for each of these considerations expanded from site specific objectives to international goals with corresponding range of actors spanning local to multinational respectively.”

The Project Coordinator identifies the detention pond area, the stretch of the drain from caprice to Graphic Road, the confluence of the Odaw drain and the railway crossing at the Graphic Road, and the lagoon up to the outfall of the sea as examples of sites under the GARID Project with the prospects for adopting land value capture.

Dr. Kwadwo Ohene Sarfoh addressing participants at the workshop

On the sites around the flood detention pond area, the Project Coordinator said the GARID Project will explore the possibility of constructing recreational parks around the buffers of the ponds, a dedicated carpark for customers of the Transitions Funeral Home near the site where the pond is located, and potential commercial use of the detained water for irrigation purposes. These additional facilities, the Project Coordinator, believes, will help generate some funds that can be used to offset the high cost of operating and maintaining the ponds.  

At the GARID Project intervention area along the graphic road crossing, Dr. Sarfoh proposed a transit-oriented development where a section of the Odaw drain adjoining the existing rail line will be covered and the recovered space used for developing a passenger terminal building and a new commercial, residential and light industrial mixed-use facilities around the terminal. In his estimation, this will attract potential investors and increase the value of the land in the area.

The Project Coordinator further proposed the reconstruction of breakwater, improvement in lagoon water quality and marina development at the Korle Lagoon to the outfall. This additional design feature, Dr. Sarfoh said, will help generate fund that can be used for the resettlement cost, improve on the city’s brand, urban competitiveness as well as the operations and maintenance of the lagoons.

Dr. Sarfoh identify taxes on land value and properties, charges assessed in connection with specific infrastructure improvements, MMDAs development approval fees, land transfer fees, among others as key instruments for sustaining the viability of the land value capture. 

A cross-section of participants at the workshop

In another presentation, Dr. Rosina Sheburah Essien, a fellow at ISSER, discussed preliminary findings on a study she conducted on the influence of transcalar politics on the GARID Project design and implementation. The study sought to find out how large-scale urban developments such as those being implemented by the GARID Project are formed in relation to transcalar governance processes, value flows and territorial outcomes.

Preliminary findings revealed that the GARID Project’s design and implementation involve varied institutional actors, regulatory regimes, policies and circulating knowledge practices. According to Dr. Essien, the transcalar dialogue began with the City Strength Diagnostic (CSD) analysis in 2016 and the Accra Climate Risk Mitigation Strategy in 2017, which has elements of allied projects such as the World Bank’s city resilience initiatives and strategy for climate adaptation, GAMA Sanitation and Water Project, Strategy for Disaster Risk Reduction and Marine (Water) litter reduction initiatives. These findings corroborate the study’s objective that large-scale urban developments in African cities are shaped by different circuits of knowledge, actors, practices and financial flows.

 Dr. Rosina Sheburah Essien addressing participants at the workshop

On the kinds of urban territories being created through the GARID Project, the study found that decisions regarding selection of urban territories, territorial transformation, and associated network of actors under the Project are not merely technical processes but also products of micro politics and complex relationships involving transnational, national, local and community actors.

The study also highlighted the comprehensive participatory approach being adopted for the design and implementation of major interventions under the GARID Project. Dr. Essien said the approach involves different actors including, the World Bank, the Project Coordinating Unit, the Project Implementing Ministries, participating Assemblies, Community Liaison Officers and members of Community Development Committees who serve as the mouthpiece of the community to push for issues of the community’s interest.

The workshop closed with participants pledging to continue working together on the issues raised by the research.

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