General News Mon, 17 May 2010

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Sister Cities arrangement with Africa is misplaced

A development Planner , Nyaaba-Aweeba Azongo, has criticised the current craze for districts in Africa to partner cities in the western world particularly Europe and the Americas as offering very little development relevance and quite misplaced, when it comes to development co-operation for poverty reduction and sustainable development for which the current arrangement is purported to be based.

He has argued that African cities or districts are not sister cities to western cities/districts because they have very little in common, but instead have domestic economic, geographical and historical bearings with cities and districts in their own countries to promote inter-jurisdictional partnership for domestic economic integration and national cohesion.

According to him, local level partnership for poverty reduction and sustainable development is logically based on the premise that one local area (district) shares a common resource, it could be market , a particular economic activity that transcends one or more district boundaries , or have a mutually reinforcing development challenges like migration of youth from one district to the other, and opportunities , one district serving as the food basket for other districts or common historical ties and ethnic groupings etc.

He said the current crave shall breed a situation where all districts in Ghana will be pursuing sister city arrangements and this orientation in both economic and psychological grounds is not sustainably developmental, since it will only perpetuate attitudes and relations of dependency in the ‘best comes from the west fashion’.

Mr Azongo made these criticisms in an interview with Business & Financial Times in Kumasi last week.

He said the districts in Africa and Ghana in particular has nothing in common in terms of common inter-local resource and mutually impacting development challenges with the European cities to necessitate such arrangements; whilst domestic district partnership arrangement for planning purposes remains neglected.

Kumasi for instance has 7 sister cities from Canada, the USA, South Africa and Burkina Fasso whilst the KEEA district has partnership with cities in the Netherlands. The best that could come out of this he stressed would be the provision of facilities but not sister district economic integration which holds substance for poverty reduction and sustainable development.

He cited the case of Kumasi, where he said 51% of the population of Ashanti now resides in 4 districts and Kumasi alone now commands more than one –third of the entire population of Ashanti. He said the population explosions in the cities of Kumasi and Accra are not necessarily due to internal population dynamics but mass migration from deprived districts to these cities which require inter district partnership interventions.

According to Mr.Azongo, the sad reflection is that every district is planning development independently without regard to the impact of other districts they share common challenges with.

He has, therefore, called upon the Presidency to as a matter of urgency authorize the National Development Planning Commission which is under the Presidency to establish a planning framework to promote inter-district partnership and joint planning in the country as a primary option to the outward oriented sister cities arrangement.

Source: krampahseth@yahoo.com

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