Accra, five cities above average in African Green City Index

Accra and five other cities in Africa are rated above average in the African Green City Index which studied 15 African cities.

The Index which was released in Durban, South Africa Friday December 2, 2011 on the sidelines of the ongoing COP17 puts Accra, Cape Town, Casablanca, Durban, Johannesburg and Tunis above average. Two African cities, Dar es Salaam and Maputo fell well below average.

The study covered 15 cities in 11 countries. These are Dar es Salaam, Maputo, Luanda, Nairobi, Addis Ababa, Alexandria, Cairo, Lagos, Pretoria, Accra, Cape Town, Casablanca, Durban, Johannesburg and Tunis. The cities were rated as, well below average, below average, average, above average and well above average. No city however, is well above average.

Some of the key indicators the Index looked at include water, energy use, waste management, transportation and sanitation.

“Accra is Ghana’s capital city. Stretching along the Atlantic coast, the city covers just 200 square kilometres, which is the smallest administrative area among the 15 cities in the African Green City Index. Accra’s estimated population of 2.3 million (extending to some 4 million when neighbouring urban agglomerations are taken into account) makes the city the second densest in the Index, behind Cairo. Although Ghana is viewed as one of sub-Saharan Africa’s development success stories, many challenges remain for its capital. The city suffers from what UN Habitat calls an “urban divide” between the rich and poor, especially when it comes to accessing affordable housing and municipal services,” says the Index.

Urbanisation was more sudden and rapid than Ghana’s post-colonial government predicted, and as a result the city was unprepared to meet the surging demand for housing and services, it adds.

It also notes that, despite Accra’s visible challenges, the city ranks above average overall in the Index.

“The city’s standout category is environmental governance, where it ranks well above average relative to its Index peers, with strong scores for environmental management, monitoring and public participation,” the Index says.

Accra according to the Index ranks strong in the areas of air quality and sanitation, where it ranks above average, bolstered by air quality promotion and monitoring, and a robust policy aimed at promoting sanitation.

“Energy and CO2 is another above average category for Accra, driven by a high rate of renewable electricity and low electricity consumption, but limited supplies and steep prices partly explain the city’s relatively low consumption. Accra’s weakest category is transport, where it ranks below average, largely because of underdeveloped infrastructure and policies,” the Index says.

On energy and CO2 emission Accra is above average, according to the Index.

It says an estimated 49 kg of CO2 is emitted per person in Accra through electricity consumption, well below the Index average of 984 kg. The relatively low CO2 emissions are due in part to a heavy reliance on renewable energy. Nearly three-quarters of Accra’s electricity comes from hydropower. Electricity consumption per capita, at 2.6 gigajoules, is less than half the Index average of 6.4 gigajoules. However, supply limitations and high prices partly explain the relatively low usage. An estimated 84% of households have access to electricity, equal to the Index average, though residents in the city’s numerous informal settlements typically pay three times more for electricity than do residents in wealthier neighbourhoods. Several projects are underway to increase Ghana’s power-generation capacity.

The Index was produced by the Economist Intelligence Unit of The Economist and Siemens Africa.

By Emmanuel K. Dogbevi in Durban, South Africa

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