Skyscrapers, modern architecture and glass buildings are springing up everywhere in the capital city, Accra. A casual tour of the city centre and other suburbs reveals a fast developing city with massive cranes of all colours at various construction sites all over the city. Places worthy of note are the famed Airport City close to the Kotoka International Airport, where developers are outdoing each other with hitherto unseen architecture in the country. Whereas the developers are mostly putting up office spaces, malls and shops at the Airport City, high rise apartments are springing up by the day at other places.
Apartments and Malls
These include the La Beach Towers near the La beach, which comprises three 18 ground and 17 storey towers namely: Oceanic, Palms and Waves, all of which present a new and unique concept in beach front residential accommodation. Another is the Villaggio Vista colourful apartments at the Tetteh Quarshie interchange which are still under construction. The construction of shopping malls has also become the order of the day, threatening the existence of the good old Makola Market in the heart of the city and others like it. Before the Accra Mall was constructed, there was the A&C Shopping Centre. These two facilities have paved the way for others like the Marina Mall at the Airport City, the Osu Oxford Street Mall and the new West Hills Mall. Upcoming is also the Achimota Shopping Centre project, due for completion in 2015. It is the latest development in Ghana by South African property investment and development company Atterbury Africa – the majority shareholders of Accra Mall and the West Hills Mall, and Broll Ghana has the exclusive mandate to lease the shopping centre.
The 14,500m2 development off the Accra-Nsawam highway, is expected to attract residents from Achimota, Tesano, West Lands and surrounding areas. Atterbury Property Developments’ Managing Director, James Ehlers, told sacommercialpropnews.co.za that “Ghana is benefiting from a new emerging middle class. Accra is the hub of retail in the country, yet modern shopping malls still represent a small proportion of Accra’s retail market. With its growing prosperity and population, Accra has great capacity to support more formal retail.” Other multi-purpose developments which include offices and residential space, as well as shopping centres, are currently ongoing. These include The Octagon in the heart of the city, the Nester Square, a multipurpose 10-storey building with underground parking being put up by Ernest Chemist Limited, and the Stanbic Bank’s One Airport Square at the Airport City. There is also the Turquaz Residence, an estate development company from Turkey, that has already constructed a 36 unit apartment building at Roman Ridge in Accra. The facilities in the apartment building include two to three bedrooms, a spacious car park, a standby generator, a swimming pool and restaurant and is already up for grabs by the middle and upper classes.
Hospitals and Roads
Health facilities as well as new roads have not been left out of the modernisation trend. While the Police Hospital and the Greater Accra Regional Hospital, popularly referred to as the Ridge Hospital, are still a beehive of activities which are geared at expanding and upgrading facilities to international standards, some roads have also seen a major facelift. The 37/Burma Camp to Trade Fair road seems to have taken inspiration from the N1 (George Walker Bush Highway). There is also the three-tier Kwame Nkrumah Circle interchange estimated at €74.88 million and expected to be completed this year, which is being funded by the governments of Ghana and Brazil, and being constructed by the Queiroz Galvao Construction Company. Looking at all the developments going on simultaneously, it is as if a fiat has been issued for new buildings to be put up in a certain way and for skyscrapers to be put up in places where diminutive buildings once stood. Nonetheless, although the phenomenon may be difficult to understand, especially against the harsh economic conditions plaguing the economy of Ghana, the answer may be close by.
Declaration of Millennium City
It has been five years since Development Economist, Dr Jeffrey Sachs, declared Accra as a Millennium City on January 15, 2010 and developers may be taking a cue from that declaration. Then, it looked like a fleeting dream, but now, the reality is that Accra, the national capital of Ghana, is fast becoming a world-class city, where all the trappings that make cities great the world over can be found. The declaration by Dr Sachs and the Metropolitan Chief Executive of the Accra Metropolitan Assembly (AMA), Mr Alfred Vanderpuije, was hailed as a positive move to develop the city which is challenged with poor environmental sanitation, bad roads, traffic congestion and its attendant air pollution, among others. The two-year Millennium Cities Initiative, which culminated in the declaration of Accra as a Millennium City, is a project of the Earth Institute of Columbia University in the United States of America (USA). It acted as an urban counterpart to the Millennium Village project, which was designed to assist seven mid-sized cities across sub-Saharan Africa to achieve the Millennium Development Goals.
Kisumu, Kenya’s third largest city; Blantyre, Malawi’s most populous city; Akure, the capital of Ondo State in Nigeria, the largest state in Nigeria’s southwest and in the Yoruba cultural region, with a population of about 350,000, and Bamako, Mali’s administrative and economic capital, are some of the Millennium Cities in Africa.
The rest are Segou, located in the heart of West Africa on the banks of the Niger River and described as Mali’s prestigious capital of the ancient Bambara kingdom; Louga in Senegal, with a population of roughly 120,000 and the smallest of the millennium cities; and Mekelle, the capital of the Tigray Region, the largest city in northern Ethiopia and the sixth largest in the country, covering 28 square kilometres, with an estimated population of 175,000. Kumasi is also a member of the millennium cities. Mr Vanderpuije, in an interview with the Daily Graphic, observed that Accra’s stride to move from an average city into a modern one would be better realised under the initiative which, he stated, was beginning to have an impact on residents in the metropolis. It is only hoped that this development trend would also affect environmental sanitation, involve energy-efficient designs, introduce renewable energy sources of power such as biogas and solar, and bring about an improvement in utility services.