Ghana Life: A House in Kumasi
Since Ghana became independent in 1957 its population has grown rapidly. First measured in 1960 at 6.7 million, by December 2013 it had reached 25 million. This rate of population growth, combined with the inevitable urban drift in developing economies, has had the effect of pushing up the cost of land and housing in all urban areas and especially in the two biggest cities: Accra and Kumasi. The story of one small house started in Kumasi in 1983 bears testimony to the overall trend.
A year before the plot was purchased it was on offer at 30,000 Ghanaian cedis, but by 1983 the going price had already doubled. The 60,000 cedis paid then had a realistic free market value of about $500. A second adjacent plot purchased in 1986 cost 180,000 cedis. It was already clear that pressure was increasing rapidly on available building land in a good location, in this case on a gentle hillside with a long view near to the University of Science and Technology with easy access to the campus.
The plot was large by later standards, measuring approximately 58 by 55 metres or about one third of a hectare. A rough plan had been drawn up by the owner but an architect was hired to prepare working drawings. Both the architect and the surveyor were lecturers at the nearby university and familiar with local standards and conditions. They had worked together on many similar building projects. The three-bedroom bungalow was a very modest structure by current local standards but it was hoped to keep costs low and construction time as short as possible.
Although building construction began before the end of 1983 it was the end of 1986 before it was completed. The house was the first to be completed in the area and was regarded as having been constructed quickly. Several nearby plots had been activated but their more impressive multi-storey buildings progresses more slowly, presumably waiting for funds to become available for each stage of construction.
The house was used only on occasional visits to Ghana and remained unoccupied for long periods. Maintaining the building became a problem, and in 2015 an evaluation was conducted with a view to selling. A local property manager estimated that the value of the plot, the land alone, had now reached 200,000 new cedis, equivalent to 2000 million old cedis or about $53,000. Thus over 32 years, the land had increased in dollar value by over 100 times. No doubt the buyer will have a long-term plan to build a mansion on the plot and the days of the little house are numbered.