About GAR

The Greater Accra Region is the smallest of the 16 administrative regions in terms of area, occupying a total land surface of 3,245 square kilometres or 1.4 per cent of the total land area of Ghana. In terms of population, however, it is the second most populated region, after the Ashanti Region, with a population of 4,010,054 in 2010, accounting for 15.4 per cent of Ghana’s total population.

The political administration of the region is through the local government system. Under this administration system, the region is divided into five districts namely, Accra Metropolitan Area, Tema Municipal Area, Ga East District, Ga West District, Dangme West District and Dangme East District. Each District, Municipal or Metropolitan Area, is administered by a Chief Executive, representing central government but deriving authority from an Assembly headed by a presiding member elected from among the members themselves.

The major ethnic groups are the Akan (39.8%), Ga-Dangme (29.7%) and Ewe (18%). The Gas however form the largest single sub-ethnic grouping, accounting for 18.9 percent. Christians constitute the largest religious group (83.0%), followed by Moslems (10.2%), people who profess no religion (4.6%) and adherents of traditional religion (1.4%).

With regard to marital status, 50.0 per cent of persons 15 years and older are in formal or informal cohabiting unions, while an additional 9.6 per cent have once been in a marriage. A slightly higher proportion of females than males are in marital unions; 51.5 per cent compared to 48.5 percent. In spite of the minimum legal age of 18 years prescribed for marriage, there is an indication that some persons aged 12-17 years do marry. The proportion of persons aged 12-17 years who are married or in consensual unions is 1.7 percent, compared to a national average of 6.4 percent.

Political Administration

In 1960, Greater Accra, then referred to as Accra Capital District, was geographically and legally part of the Eastern Region. It was, however, administered separately by the Minister responsible for local government. With effect from 23 July 1982, Greater Accra was created by the Greater Accra Region Law (PNDCL 26) as a legally separate region to include the Ada local council area.

The region is administered at two different but complementary levels, the traditional and political levels. The traditional level of administration is through an intricate network of local governance dealing with purely traditional affairs concerning customs and land administration, while the political is along the lines of law and order and decentralized government machinery.

The administration of the region is through the local government system that derives its authority from the 1992 Constitution of Ghana and the Local Government Act 1993 (Act 462). Under this administration, the region is divided into five areas/districts with their capitals.

Administrative Area Capital

Accra Metropolitan Area (AMA) Accra, Tema Municipal Area Tema, Ga East District, Ga West District, Dangme West District, Dodowa and Dangme East District, Ada-Foah. Each administrative area is under the control of a Chief Executive representing central government but deriving his/her authority from an Assembly, headed by a Presiding Member elected from among the members themselves.

Two-thirds of assembly members are elected through local elections, while the remaining one-third is appointed by Government. The Assemblies have wide ranging social, economic and legislative jurisdiction over their respective local authority areas, but there is a Regional Coordinating Council (RCC) to coordinate and monitor the activities of these Assemblies. The Regional Coordinating Council, which is headed by the Regional Minister, has the following membership:

i. Regional Minister and his Deputies,
ii. The Presiding Member and the Chief Executive from each Assembly in the Region,
iii. Two Chiefs from the Regional House of Chiefs,
iv. The Regional Heads of decentralized Departments in the Region as members without voting rights.

The Regional Coordinating Director is the Secretary to the Regional Coordinating Council. In recent times, it has been decided that new districts are going to be created throughout the country. In the Greater Accra Region, an extra district is to be created, by dividing the Ga District into Ga West and Ga East with the capital at Amasaman and Ga East with capital at Abokobi.

Physical Features

It has a coastline of approximately 225 kilometres, stretching from Kokrobite in the west to Ada in the east. The soils have low organic contents with shallow top soils which limit the capacity for crop production. The vegetation is mainly coastal savannah shrubs interspersed with thickets. Some trees are however found mostly in the Dangme West and Ga districts.

The region is relatively dry since it falls within the dry coastal equatorial climatic zone with temperatures ranging between 20° and 30° Celsius and annual rainfall ranging from 635 mm along the coast to 1,140 mm. in the northern parts. There are two rainfall peaks notably in June and October. The first rainfall season between April and July is associated with the major cropping season in the region.

With the recent floods during the major season in parts of the region, however, a significant proportion of vegetable farmers are increasingly depending on the minor season (September-October). The region is not well endowed with mineral resources and possesses only granite, clay and salt.

The main rivers that flow through the region are the Volta and Densu. In addition, there are small seasonal streams flowing mostly from the Akwapim Ridge into the sea through numerous lagoons. Because the region is bordered on the south by the Gulf of Guinea, there are ecologically very important but highly polluted lagoons and wetlands in AMA, Tema and Dangme East.

The dredging work on the Korle lagoon in AMA to tap its full potential is ongoing. It should also be mentioned that the Volta River’s estuarine delta is at Ada in the Dangme East District.

The Age Structure

The age structure of the five districts is characteristic of populations experiencing rapid growth. The proportion of persons under 15 years varies from 31.6 per cent in AMA to 42.4 per cent in Dangme East, while that of the aged (65 years and older) ranges from 3 per cent in the Ga District to 8.2 per cent in Dangme East.
The sex ratio varies from 90.4 males to 100 females in Dangme East to 100.9 in the Ga District. The relatively low sex ratio for Dangme East can be attributed to several factors including male out-migration and higher male mortality. The age structures in the five districts have given rise to two patterns of dependency ratios.

AMA (55.5) and Tema (56.3), the two most developed districts have much lower dependency ratios than Ga (60.9), Dangme West (87.7) and Dangme East (102.3). The higher dependency ratios in Ga, Dangme West and Dangme East are partly a reflection of relatively higher fertility and imply a great dependency burden for the working population in these districts.
With the exception of Ga and Tema, more than half of the population is born in the locality of enumeration. In general, persons born in the Eastern Region predominate in all the districts except Tema and Dangme East, where persons born in the Volta Region form the largest proportion of persons born outside the region. Persons born outside Ghana constitute 1.3 per cent of the region’s population.

The analysis of the migratory pattern for districts indicates that the proportion of persons involved in intra-regional migration is low in AMA (3.2%) and high in Dangme East (12.9%). This pattern is almost the same for both sexes. The Eastern Region contributes the largest proportion of inter-regional migrants, followed by Volta, Central and Ashanti. Slightly more females than males have moved from the Eastern Region to the districts in Greater Accra.

International migration is low. International migrants from ECOWAS and other African countries in the districts (1%) outnumber those from outside Africa (0.3%). AMA and Ga have slightly higher proportions of international migrants than Tema, Dangme West and Dangme East.
The AMA is the most urbanized district in the region, followed by Ga, Tema, Dangme West and Dangme East in that order. As a metropolis, the entire AMA is urban, while only 18 per cent of the population in Dangme East live in urban areas.

Total fertility rates (TFRs) in the five districts vary from 5.1 in Dangme East to 2.2 in AMA. Female adolescents (15-19 years) in Dangme East and Dangme West have much higher fertility than those in AMA, Ga and Tema. This observation is supported by evidence based on life-time fertility: the mean number of children ever born to adolescents (15-19 years) in Dangme West (0.216) and Dangme East (0.202) is higher than the regional average of 0.090.

Population Size

The population of Greater Accra has increased from 491,817 in 1960 to 2,905,726 in 2000. It has the second largest population, after Ashanti, and its share of the total population of the country has steadily increased from 7.3 per cent in 1960 to 15.4 per cent in 2000.
The male population has grown from 261,547 in 1960 to 1,436,135 in 2000. The corresponding female figures are 230,270 in 1960 and 1,469,591 in 2000. During the 1960-2000 period, the female population grew much faster than the male population. This may be the result of greater migration of females into the region in response to the employment and other opportunities provided by urbanization in the area of trading and services.

Population Density

The region has remained the most densely populated region in the country since 1960. Population density (measured as the number of persons per square kilometre) has increased from 151.6 in 1960 to 895.5 in 2000. The region’s population density has doubled between 1984 (441) and 2000 and this is, in part, a reflection of migratory movements to the region. The densely populated nature of the region is brought into sharp focus when it is compared with the other regions.

Policy Implications and Interventions

The relatively high fertility in Dangme West and Dangme East suggests low contraceptive use and hence the unmet need for family planning. The Ministry of Health and other health service providers should continue with efforts to make effective birth control methods not only accessible but also affordable. Analysis of current school attendance shows that the proportions of females in primary and junior secondary schools are slightly higher than those for males.

The sex differences at the senior secondary schools level however is in favour of males and widen at the tertiary level. The emphasis on girl child education is yielding dividends but there is room for improvement. The private informal sector plays a vital role in the economies of the districts.
Six out of every 10 economically active persons in the region are in the private informal sector. This high proportion in the informal sector points to lack of employment opportunities that compel people to create their own jobs which in turn often leads to fractionalisation of profits and a condition of shared poverty.

The private informal sector dominates the institutional sector in the region. In view of this, there is the urgent need for the district assemblies and central government to train and equip this large workforce with new skills to be able to participate effectively in the economies of their respective districts. It should be possible for the private informal sector to access soft loans from banks for business. The ultimate objective would be to capacitate such businesses to transform into the private formal to provide job opportunities and make an impact on the economy.
Housing condition

The housing conditions situation leaves much to be desired. The toilet facilities accessible to households and the waste disposal methods, for both solid and liquid waste, point to a high level of unsanitary conditions, especially in AMA and Tema. Except at the Ridge, the Cantonments and educational institutions such as the Achimota College and the University of Ghana Legon, which were constructed with proper underground sewerage systems, the rest of the region has no proper interconnected sewerage system.

Only Tema Township was planned and constructed with a fully integrated sewerage system. Unfortunately, Tema has overgrown the capacity of the original system due to poor maintenance and lack of upgrading of the system. This has created problems similar to the situation in the AMA. An attempt to construct such a system between 1969 and 1971 for the Kaneshie and Korle Bu areas was abandoned after the 1972 coup d’etat.

The high cost of connecting housing units to the central sewerage system also discourages the implementation of the system. The drainage system in the AMA is very poor, resulting in annual flooding in spite of the low annual rainfall of the region. The open drains are supposed to serve as storm drains but have become receptacles for solid, liquid and human waste disposal. This situation, which has affected the efficient and hygienic disposal of solid, liquid and human waste in almost the entire region, needs to be seriously reviewed and addressed.

There is therefore the need for drastic measures to resolve once and for all the perennial sanitary and disposal problems of the region. AMA should enforce the byelaw that bans the use of pan or bucket latrine in the metropolis. The use of electricity as the main source of lighting in Dangme West and Dangme East is low. The low use of electricity may not be unrelated to the high cost of electricity. The proportion of households using charcoal as cooking fuel varies from 36.8 per cent in Dangme West to 61.1 per cent in AMA.

It is also noted that in Dangme West and Dangme East, more than half of households use wood as cooking fuel. In the face of depleting forest and little reforestation, cutting down trees to produce charcoal exacerbates the deforestation and land degradation problems.

To effectively address the issue of deforestation, District Assemblies should initiate and implement a vigorous tree planting exercise in their areas of jurisdiction. The sale of gas in smaller cylinders, which will be affordable to households, would need to be introduced to encourage the shift from wood- to non-wood- based fuel. This is because liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) is already heavily subsidised by government and to reduce it further may not be feasible under the present economic conditions.

The central government’s rural electrification programme has to be sustained so as to extend it to every nook and cranny in the country. The District Assemblies can contribute to the programme by mobilizing the communities to make financial contributions towards the purchase of electricity poles and cables. Government would need to address the issue of affordability of electricity.

Most households in the region rely on both orthodox medical and traditional health facilities for primary health care needs. Hospitals and clinics are not within easy reach of most communities, whereas traditional health facilities are fairly well dispersed and within easy reach of most communities.

The maximum distance from a locality to a traditional health facility is less than 5 kilometres while the maximum distance to a hospital ranges from 25 kilometres for Tema to 49 for Dangme West. The average population per doctor for the region is 2,968 while that for registered traditional healer is 1,207.

The good patronage of traditional healing facilities is evidence of easier accessibility and affordability than is the case with hospitals and clinics. The central government should not scrap the cash and carry system until the envisaged comprehensive health insurance scheme has gained a firm footing. The District Assemblies should collaborate with central government to build at least one well-equipped district hospital in Ga, Dangme West and Dangme East.

The major intervention in the area of education relates to access of females to education at the post secondary and particularly tertiary levels. Conscious efforts are required to close the male/female gap at the post secondary and tertiary levels through the adoption of an affirmative action programme. Affirmative action will ensure that some concession is granted female students at the tertiary level during admission.

Even though the region is well endowed with junior and senior secondary schools, some of which are among the best in the country, there is the need to guard against the proliferation of schools which could make room for the establishment of sub-standard schools. Two interventions emerge with respect to education facilities in the districts particularly Ga, Dangme West and Dangme East.

The Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports should vigorously pursue government’s initiative of upgrading at least, a senior secondary school into a centre of excellence in each district in order to close the wide gap in accessibility and academic performance between rural and urban schools. The second intervention relates to the cost of senior secondary school education. Increased government and private sector support for infrastructural development and equipment as well as viable scholarship and bursary schemes will go a long way to facilitate a much larger intake of students.

Housing condition

Number Of Rooms Occupied By Households

42.2 per cent of households occupy one room, 29.5 per cent occupy two rooms while 28.3 per cent occupy three or more rooms. The proportion of households occupying one or two rooms varies from 45.7 per cent in Dangme East to 78.4 per cent in AMA.

Indicators Of Housing Density

With an average household size of 4.6 and the average number of rooms per household of 2.4, Greater Accra has an average room density of 2.0 persons per room. All districts, except AMA, have an average room density lower than that for the region. Dangme West and Dangme East have a density of 1.6 persons per room, the lowest in the region. This means that overcrowding is more of a problem in AMA than in the other districts. There is the need for deliberate policy to relieve AMA of the population pressure on housing by directing housing development to Tema and Ga.

Sleeping Room Occupancy By District

The average room density for the region (2.5) is higher than the national average (2.3). The highest is in the Accra Metropolis (2.8), while the lowest is in Dangme West (2.0). Two of the 5 districts have populations per sleeping room higher than the national average but only the Accra Metropolis has a population per sleeping room higher than the regional average. Generally, the more urbanized a district, the higher the population per sleeping room.

The number of people enumerated outside the house (16,406) is 27.0 per cent of the national figure, and 0.6 per cent of the region’s population. The population is highest in the Accra Metropolis (0.8%) while it is less than half or one per cent in the other districts.

This number includes persons who were institutionalized or were in transit on the night of the census, but it is likely that a sizable number were homeless. The numbers nevertheless indicate that homelessness is not yet a major problem, though it is a seriously emerging one in the Accra Metropolis.

There are 867 “homeless households”, or 0.1 per cent of all households in the region. The Accra Metropolis has 709 (i.e. 81.8%) of these homeless households, though the number represents only 0.2 per cent of households in the metropolis.
“Homelessness” appears to be more of an urban problem (AMA and Tema) which, though currently relatively small, may be growing with increasing in-migration into the region, especially the three more urbanized districts.

Main Material For Outer Walls

Cement block or concrete is the main type of material for outer wall in the region (74.2%). The proportion of houses with cement blocks or concrete as the main material for outer walls ranges from 77.8 per cent in AMA to 44.6 per cent in Dangme West, where the proportion of houses with mud for outer wall is about the same as the proportion with cement (46.4%). Tema with the least proportion of mud houses (2.5%), has 16.0 per cent of houses having wood as the main material for outer walls.


The Ga-Dangme are a patriarchal, patrilineal and patrilocal society.

The largest ethnic group in the region is the Akan, comprising 39.8 percent, followed by Ga-Dangme (29.7%) and Ewe (18%). In terms of individual ethnic sub groups, detailed results indicate that the Gas form the single largest sub-group, accounting for 18.9 per cent of the population. Among the Akan group, the Fantes constitute 10.6 percent, Asantes, 8.3 per cent and Akuapem 4.9 percent.


Perhaps the most important common religious institution that has survived as an expression of the unity of the Ga-Dangme people relates to the three main annual festivals celebrated in the region. These are the Asafotufiam celebrated in the Ada area, Ngmayem in the Shai Osudoku area and the Homowo by the Gas. The festivals provide an occasion for the gathering together of the Ga-Dangme from every part of the country, where they happen to be temporarily domiciled in order to eat communally together and at the same time to welcome new members of the family while remembering the dead. It is also an occasion for the settling of personal quarrels and important family disputes.

Religious Groups

The percentage distribution of religious groups shows the predominance of Christians (82.9%) in the region, compared with the second major religion, Islam (10.2%). Among the Christian group, adherents of Pentecostal and Charismatic churches constitute the largest religious denomination (38.0%) followed by Protestants (26.0%) and Catholics (9.7%) in that order. The distribution is almost similar for both sexes except for the predominance of females in the Pentecostal and Charismatic churches. There are however more male than female Muslims which conforms to the national pattern.

Household Composition

Children of the head constitute 32.3 percent, while grandchildren and other relatives together make up 30.9 percent. Twenty eight per cent of males are household heads compared to 12.7 per cent of females.

Where a female is the head of household, it is very likely that it is a single person household or a single parent household. This explanation is reinforced by the finding that 2.3 per cent of males compared to 16.1 per cent of females were reported as being spouses of the head of the household. It is also noted that the large proportion of grandchildren and other relatives in the household is evidence of the continued importance of extended family relations.

Economic Characteristics

A population of 1,945,284 persons aged 15 years and older, 1,377,903 or 70.8 per cent are economically active. Among the economically active population, 82.6 per cent had worked, 4.0 per cent had jobs but did not work and 13.4 per cent are unemployed. The region’s unemployment rate (13.4%) is higher than the national figure of 10.4 percent.

The occupational structure of the region shows that 42.0 per cent of the economically active population were engaged in sales and service occupations, while professional, technical and related workers comprise 10.8 percent. The three largest occupational groups among males are production, transport operators and related workers (29.6%), sales workers (19.4%), and clerical and related workers (14.4%), compared with 42.0 per cent of females in sales occupation, 19.5 per cent in production, transport and equipment, and 13.9 per cent in service occupations. The industrial sector is dominated by wholesale and retail trade (30.4%) and manufacturing (16.7%).

A higher proportion of females (39.0%) are in wholesale and retail trade compared to 22.2 per cent of males. Female are three times more likely than males to be in the hotels and restaurant industry. The third largest group of male workers (10.9%) is in transport, storage and communication.

More than half of the economically active population in the region is self-employed with employees, while a third (32.6%) is employees. A much larger proportion of females (62.6%) than males (41.6%) are self-employed without employees, implying that males are 1.5 times more likely than females to be employees. The private informal sector, which employs 6 out of every 10 economically active persons, plays a leading role in the economy of the region.

Females (69.1%) dominate the private informal sector, compared with 55.8 per cent of males in this sector. On the other hand, a higher proportion (40.7%) of males than females (28.5%), are employed in the public and private formal sectors.
Over 68 per cent of the population aged 15 years or older in each district are economically active. Higher proportions of males, compared to females, are economically active. The highest unemployment rate was recorded in Tema (16.0%) followed by Ga (13.3%) and AMA (13.2%). In each district, the proportion of unemployed females is higher than that of males.

Two different patterns of occupation characterise the districts. Sales workers and general workers are the two major occupations in AMA, Tema and Ga. In both Dangme West and Dangme East, about half of the economically active population are engaged in agriculture, animal husbandry, fishing and hunting, followed by sales workers.

Two groups of districts emerge with regard to the type of industry of the economically active population. The main industry in AMA, Ga and Tema is wholesale and retail trade. In the three districts, the proportion of females in wholesale and retail trade exceeds that of males.

Agriculture/hunting/forestry is the main industry in Dangme West (40.8%) and Dangme East (36.8%). In Dangme East, fishing is the second largest industry. More than half of the economically active population in Ga (56.3%) and over two-thirds in Dangme West (70.8%) and Dangme East (74.3%) are self-employed without employees.

In AMA and Tema, the proportions of self-employed without employees are less than half. In all the districts, females are more likely than males to be self-employed without employees. The second largest group is employees, ranging from 14.0 per cent in Dangme East to 38.2 per cent in Tema.

The analysis of the economically active population by institutional sector underscores the dominance of the private informal sector in the economies of the districts. The proportion engaged in the private informal sector ranges from 57.8 per cent in Tema to 84.5 per cent in Dangme East.

In all the districts, the female proportions are much higher than those for males. The predominance of the private informal sector underlines the need to create an enabling environment to maximize its contribution to economic activity in the districts.


The occupational structure shows that 42.0 per cent were engaged in sales and service occupations, with 24.7 per cent as production, transport and equipment operators. As expected, the region has a larger concentration of professional and technical workers (10.8%) compared to the national figure of 6.5 percent. On the other hand, agriculture, animal husbandry and forestry, fishermen and hunters, do not feature as prominently (9.1%) as is the case for the country as a whole (49.1%).

There are sex differences in terms of type of occupation. The four largest male occupational groups are production, transport operators (29.6%), sales (19.4%), clerical and related workers (14.4%) and professional, technical and related workers (13.4%). In contrast, females are mainly sales workers (42.0%), production, transport and equipment operators, (19.5%) and service workers (13.9%).


In the Greater Accra Region, wholesale and retail trade (30.4%) and manufacturing (16.7%) are the dominant branches of activity, as was the case in 1984 (with 29.9% wholesale and retail trade and 19.1% manufacturing).
About 7.9 per cent of economically active persons are engaged in agriculture, hunting, forestry and fishing industry. This proportion is far below the national average of 52.1 percent. 39.0 per cent of females are in wholesale and retail trade compared to 22.2 per cent of males. There is no sex differential as far as manufacturing is concerned. However, females are about three times more likely than males to be in hotels and restaurants industry.

Employment Status

More than half (51.8%) of the economically active population are self-employed without employees, while 32.6 per cent are employees. A much larger proportion of females (62.6%) than males (41.6%) are self-employed with no employees. Males are 1.5 times more likely than females to be employees