I have read different commentaries on the National Cathedral by Christians, Political parties (NPP & NDC) on whether to build or not and I want to give my view as a Real Estate Developer.
In real estate, it is said that location is one of the selling points of a good development whether commercial or residential. As such any project in the commercial and economic district of a nation should be based on the projected revenues that will be generated after it is completed.
The cathedral designed by David Frank Adjaye OBE RA I must say is a beautiful idea but until the government can support this decision with projections of its economic value to the Nation aside the religious importance, it is not prudent to use such a prime location for it and any smart developer shares this view.
This single decision shows us how our governments think when it comes to national developments; the approach over the years have been very short-sighted and centered on Accra resulting in the growth of rural-urban migration which has placed significant pressure on cities already lacking resources, jobs and housing.
According to the African Research Insititute in 2016 “Ghana’s urban population has risen from 4 to 14 million people in the last three decades, of whom 5.5 million live in slums.”
The People’s Dialogue on Human Settlement, an outfit that works with the UN and Ministry Of Local Governments on Slums and City development said 80% of Accra’s residents live in slums.
These issues raises serious concerns about the growth of Accra as a mega city due to the increasing sanitation problems as well as the poor planning and management by the authorities.
Accra is choked therefore a forward-thinking government who seeks to aggressively and intentionally decentralize development in a third-world country like Ghana will build such a beautiful cathedral in suburban areas or new areas on the path of urban growth to attract key infrastructure investments and development from private sector to such places.
An example of such forward-thinking decisions is the development of The Basilica of Our Lady of Peace (French: Basilique Notre-Dame de la Paix) in Yamoussoukro, the now administrative capital of Côte d’Ivoire (Ivory Coast).
President Houphouët-Boigny chose Yamoussoukro to be the future site of the new administrative capital city of in 1983 Côte d’Ivoire and the basilica which has Outstripped St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome as the Largest Church in the world was constructed between 1985 and 1990.
The development serves as a tourist and pilgrimage destination for many catholic and non-catholic, attracting economic growth and private investments to the new area.
It is time for our government to be deliberate on the development of intermediate and suburban cities that are directly linked to promote economic growth.
Since 1998 when Mr. Edward K. Salia the Minister of Roads and Transport in the Rawlings Government hinted that the Ghana Civil Aviation Authority has almost concluded negotiations with traditional land-owners in Prampram District for the construction of the New Airport and was re-echoed by the Mahama Government, huge investments and developments by the private sector has gone to the area making it one of the fastest growing suburbans in the country.
Even though there is no Airport in the area yet, a simple declaration of intent has led to the growth of Prampram area.
I expected the government to lead the charge for bold urban growth in new areas with the National Cathedral because Forward thinking Private Developers like Petronia City, Apolonia City among others have embarked on decentralizing developments by investing in intermediate cities or rural areas for growth
Bishop Dag Heward-Mills of the Light Church International built the Anagkazo Campus in a far land in Mampong few years ago and the value of investments that development has attracted to the area is remarkable. The campus has in recent years attracted hundreds of thousands of people from all over the world to the Mampong environment for conferences among others.
Price of Land in the area has increased astronomically and the economic standards of the people are improving.
This is the kind of bold decisions that is expected from governments that are futuristic in their approach for economic development instead of destroying already existing structures in the capital for a new national Cathedral.
The cathedral is good but the location doesn’t make sense to any smart investor and developer.
By: Chris Orlando (Real estate development & Senior Property Consultant at OldStone; a luxury real estate company)