The construction industry contributes about 7.5% of Ghana’s GDP and employs nearly 10% of the country's working population, Dr. Kwaku Agyemang-Mensah, Minister for Water Resources, Works and Housing has said.
He was delivering the key note address at a workshop on development and building permits held in Accra,
The workshop which was co-organized by the International Finance Cooperation (IFC) was put together to present recommendations for reforms to the building and construction permit system in Ghana.
The Minister indicated that there was a direct relationship between the economy and construction, as anytime the economy grew strong construction activities also increased.
He said there was, therefore, the need to give high priority to the issuance of construction permits in the country, adding that the government was taking steps to ensure a well-regulated and harmonized building industry to guarantee the provision of safe, adequate and decent buildings for Ghana.
Dr. Agyemang-Mensah observed that the permit process in the country “takes a longer time than should be the case” and indicated that several reasons accounted for this delay. Among others, he said lack of technical capacity of the Assemblies, avoidable bureaucracy and the rather busy schedules of the Chief Executives of the Assemblies, were responsible.
He said the Ministry launched the National Housing Policy in March this year to improve access to land with good title and for housing, outline strategies for increased production and usage of local building materials in construction, to establish a national housing fund, and a national housing authority.
According to him Ghana was now recognized as an emerging market in sub-Saharan Africa, and attributed this new status partly to the contributions from the building industry.
In her opening remarks, Ronke-Amoni Ogunsulire, the IFC Country Manager for Ghana, observed that the issuance of construction permits was important to the business environment, a major issue for the construction sector and a significant challenge for urban development in Ghana.
“Construction permits affect all of us individually as well as collectively. This is because we all strive to own a safe home, shop at safe malls, use safe roads, etc.,” she said.
She added that the IFC co-organized the workshop due to the wide-ranging impact of a good permit system on the country.
She further indicated that the workshop was part of the Ghana Investment Climate Program to support the construction sector development through targeted legal and institutional framework reform to ease construction permit issuance, and was funded by the Secretariat of State for Economic Affairs of Switzerland, SECO.
Mr Andrew Minturn, a specialist of construction permits who presented the workshop report, observed that Ghana’s construction permitting system had some core strengths, which included a general drive towards electronic systems, a move to geospatial location records, a drive to reduce fees and the development of streamlined and simplified systems.
Others are a genuine and willingness of participants in the building control system to develop better and more transparent systems and processes, a demonstrable and positive senior government support, and supportive stakeholders to the reforms.
He said the report made 58 recommendations which looked at the existing building permitting procedure, the national building codes, systems of third party review in building control, the best practice in building permitting systems and the transparency of systems and processes.
Other areas looked at included quality management systems, qualifications and standards for practitioners and liability and insurance issues, dispute resolution, complaints management, and audits issues.
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