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Opinions Fri, 25 Aug 2017

The creation of new regions and development

On Thursday August 17, 2017, the Minister for Regional Re-organization Mr. Dan Kwaku Botwe reportedly claimed that the creation of six additional regions was destined to enhance proper management of Ghana’s resources to boost development (Source: myjoyonline.com). The Council of State has also given the government a green light to create new regions. But for its rubber stamp nature, the council of state is very relevant.

Of course, there is nothing bad unless something bad happens. From traditional perspectives, when a territory becomes very large to be administered single handedly, division is very appropriate. Thus, Mr. Botwe has a strong case from classical administrative management viewpoint. However, the increasing relevance of virtual communication in these days render the foregoing classical argument palpably untenable.

Before I discuss the significance of virtual communication to national development, let me briefly talk about the relevant antecedents to this whole idea of creating additional provinces. In the run up to 2016 elections, ex-president John Dramani Mahama (JDM) hinted that plans were far advanced to split Western Region. JDM was definitely coerced by his unbridled reaction formation. Reaction formation is a psychological construct wherein an individual has an urge to say or do something and then actually says or does something which is diametrically and inwardly different from what he/she really want. For example, a lady who goes out with a guy she does not really love could pretend to be caring beyond the gentleman’s ability to describe.

Thus, buckling to political pressure JDM made the above revelation to offset the effects of the then candidate Akufo Addo’s pledge to create Northern Western Region. Both individuals were under the influence of reaction formation because they knew with perfect certitude that in the age of technological advancement Ghana does not need more administrative provinces to accelerate development. The move to create needless additional regions accentuated the increasing normalization to govern the country by political stomach direction and absolutely without a laid down development plan. Martin Luther King Jr. said that “The ultimate tragedy is not the oppression and cruelty by bad people but the silence over that by the good people.” Far from insinuating that JDM and my president are bad people, I personally think Ghana does not need additional regions in order to accelerate development.

Per the United Nations estimate in 2017, the population of Ghana is 28,732680. The total area of Ghana is 92099 square miles. Comparing the population and land area to countries like Canada and Republic of South Africa, 10 regions are even more. For example, In the Republic of South Africa, the total land borders constitute 4,750 kilometers. The area of the Republic of South Africa is about 1,219,912 square kilometers. As of 2015, The World Bank estimated South Africa population to be 55.1 million. Republic of South Africa is appropriated into only nine (9) provinces namely: the Eastern Cape, the Free State, Gauteng, KwaZulu-Natal, Limpopo, Mpumalanga, The Northern Cape, North West and Western Cape (Nana Yaw Osei, Balkanization of Ghana into tribal provinces: Observer’s dilemma, modernghana.com, April 24, 2017).

Thanks to information and communication technologies, there are additions and subtractions to how human beings work, think communicate and behave. Telework, teleconference, videoconferences, emails and other web platforms have promoted virtual meetings and working together without face-to-face meeting is now possible. Simply put, physical mobility is gradually being replaced with virtual mobility making people work easier and at a faster pace than before. Thus, any nation that wants to manage resources and accelerate development must not be far behind the innovatively rampaging technological advancement of our era. Dividing regions to speed up development is very classical an approach in the modern world.

Ghana needs a proper decentralization system not creation of additional regions. We can divide our regions into 100 but it will not mean anything if people will have to travel to Accra for a birth certificate or a passport. Overreliance on Accra for everything is the problem not the current administrative regions. This creates needless bureaucratic bottleneck in the country. SefwiWiaso andAtebubu need not to be transformed into regional capitals before getting an airport or a railway station. A pensionerfrom SefwiWiasomust not travel to Trakoradi or Accra before he/she could process and fast-track his/her pension pay.

We must commend Kwame Nkrumah for creating impressive administrative provinces with recourse to national integration and multiculturalism (I am not sure whether he created all the 9 regions apart from Upper West though). For example, Eastern Region is made up of the Akyem, krobo, Kwahu, Asante, Akwamu, and Akuapem. BrongAhafo region is made up of the Ahafo, Bono, Banda, Mo, and Gyaman people. The central region is made of the Fante, Awutu, Efutu, Assin, Twifo and Denkyira. The western region consisted of the Aowin, Nzema, Ahanta, Wassa, and Sefwi people. Volta Region is made up of the Anlo, Peki, Krachi, Nkonyaand Akan people.

This has been a trump card of Ghana relative to interethnic conflicts. We must be very careful not to create regions based on tribal considerations. I humbly think that focusing on virtual work rather than traditional face-to-face work must be prioritized. The advantages of information and communication technology in the national development negate the reasons for creating additional regions. The proposed plan to create new regions also risks increasing the government wage bill needlessly. God Bless Our Homeland Ghana.

Nana Yaw Osei, Minnesota, USA

N_yawosei@hotmail.com

Columnist: Nana Yaw Osei