Ghana is in dire need of planned city, one built to near perfection, engineered and built with strong development controls, comfort and luxury for its residents; one that is neither choked nor gets flooded when it rains; one in which houses and shops do not collapse at will because standards are set and are kept.
To say that the centre of Accra is choked is to state the obvious. The latest population census puts Accra’s population at 4 million and is growing at an annual rate of 2.6%.
Thousands of families are looking for an escape route; a place to lay quietly and away from the hurly burly of a noisy city centre, polluted with fumes from rickety vehicles or from the blasts from mourners’ PA systems. Many of those families both in rented or mortgage facilities are also tired of the horrendous vehicular traffic that makes them travel many hours before they get to work, to the market, to school or to any other place of importance. Journeys that can be made in seconds are done in minutes and those in minutes are covered in hours. It is always a chore going to the places one hates to miss.
Living in the centre of Accra for many of these families has become like a visit to a dentist for a tooth extraction. It is horrific!
Patrons at the just ended Multi TV Habitat fair re-echoed these frustrations and were not only in search of affordable mortgage facilities in Accra but a place they can live, work and have fun in Accra without coming to the City centre for a service or product. For them, owning a house at the outskirts of Accra is no longer a dream but an obsession!
In 2012, a dream began. One that will turn a 941 hectare land on the Eastern plains of Accra into a city- the Appolonia City of Light. It is a dream, a vision that was birthed by Rendeavour, Africa’s largest urban land developer with over 12,000 hectares (30,000 acres) of visionary projects.
Appolonia City of Light project is a mixed use development project which comprises residential properties, light industrial facilities, retail and other commercial centres, as well as schools, healthcare, family parks and other social infrastructure. The project is the single largest private urban development project, the first of its kind in Ghana.
There have been many such dreams and promises of a better planned, well-developed city in Accra that have died at birth but the CEO of Appolonia Development Company, Anthony Okyere told Myjoyonline.com the Appolonia City of Light project is no longer a dream. “It is happening.”
Three years after the ground was broken for the ambitious project, developers are painstakingly putting up the underground culverts, constructing roads that lead to the project site and putting up reliable electricity, water infrastructure and other key amenities that will form the basis for a project, as magnificent as the Appolonia City project.
Located between Oyibi and Afienya in Accra, the City of Light is 12 Km off Tetteh Quarshie. An enchanting destination, with a serene ambience, the Appolonia City of Light project in many significant ways holds lots of promise for Ghana’s tottering economy and housing industry.
According to Ghana’s Statistical Service, the real estate industry, along with professional, administrative and support service activities contributes 4.8% of Ghana’s GDP. The growth however has been relatively slow according to government statistics.
The Appolonia project in part, is already contributing to the growth of the local economy and the housing sector in particular.
As a policy, the urban developers have given the locals a 60 per cent quota of any form of employment available as a result of the project, Anthony Okyere told Myjoyonline.com.
In addition to the employment generation, the community of Appolonia have equity stake in the Appolonia City of Light project whose dividend will go up when the project begins to take shape. There is the Appolonia Development Trust set aside from which monies will be used directly towards providing development and infrastructural needs of the community. The developers have already taken some initiatives including a renovation of the Appolonia Community Clinic.
“For us it is about setting a good example on development. Once you do one good example people tend to look at it and follow suit.” Anthony Okyere said.
Housing experts at the Multi TV HFC Habitat Fair again discussed the need for a stronger partnership between industry players to make housing available and affordable to all.
Already, the Appolonia City of Light project is looking to bring together a solid team of estate developers, contractors, mortgage financiers who, under the direction of Rendeavour would put together fully master planned, detached, town houses and apartments, a scintillating central business district, shops and malls for sale to middle and high class property buyers.
For a country that has over 50 per cent of people unable to afford a house or qualify for a mortgage Anthony Okyere said apartments in the City of Light could meet the pockets of a larger number of Ghanaians.
There is also the offer to prospective buyers to own a land in the city of Light and build houses of choice and design but under great supervision.
In ten to 15 years, the once bushy undeveloped but captivating landscape will become Ghana’s contemporary urban oasis.