Despite New Patriotic Party (NPP) campaign pledges, many were surprised to see a Minister of Regional Re-Organisation & Development in President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo’s ministerial appointees. The creation of such a ministry has been necessitated by the plan to create four new regions in the country from 2018.
This announcement is a very bold move by Akufo-Addo, it will be the first change in the makeup of the regions of Ghana since the Upper West region was officially created in 1987. The mobilisation of personnel and infrastructure to educate the people on the need for the creation of these new regions will be massive and the price of failure could also be huge.
If accepted, the creation of new regions could change the historical political allegiance of large sections of the typically National Democratic Congress (NDC)-leaning Northern and Volta regions. If residents of the new Eastern Corridor and Oti regions feel that the NPP were the ones to give them their autonomy, it could be a long-term blow for the main opposition party.
Furthermore, (1) a significant proportion of Ghana’s cocoa production takes place in the Western region, (2) it plays host to a number of the independent power producers (IPPs) and (3) as well as offshore oil and gas exploitation in the jubilee field. Although Ghana is a unitary rather than federal state, sharing revenues on that basis, a re-drawing of regional boundaries will still impact the composition of stakeholders for cocoa production, and oil and gas activities as well as the IPPs.
Not only will the creation of the new regions be a huge test for the political leadership of the country but also for the nation’s institutions, especially the Electoral Commission and the National Commission for Civic Education. The NCCE is the body that is responsible for educating citizens about the importance of voting and, with such stringent requirements on participation and success of any eventual referendum, they will have their work cut out for them – turnout at the district level elections rarely exceeds 40%.
Written by Accra-based Analyst, Kobi Annan, with input from Managing Partners Nana Adu Ampofo and Kissy Agyeman-Togobo
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