The  46th Annual General Meeting (AGM) of the Ghana Institute of Planners (GIP) has taken place in Accra.


The meeting took place on the theme: Planning for the sustainable development of affordable housing.


Delivering the keynote address, Mrs Patricia Appiagye, Deputy Minister for Environment, Science, Technology and Innovation noted that Ghana was one of the few countries in Africa that had developed a National Urban Policy and Action Plan as well as a National Housing Policy and a Draft National Slum Upgrading Strategy with the aim of addressing contemporary urban and housing problems and to plan future housing and urban development.


Mrs Appiagye said issues such as slum upgrading, people living in vulnerable communities or disaster-prone areas and livelihood improvement had been largely incorporated into these policies.


She said reforms introduced by government in the Land Use and Spatial system, which were being driven by the Land Use and Spatial Planning Authority (LUSPA), under the auspices of MESTI, sought to enhance the delivery of affordable housing through efficient land use planning and enforcement of planning regulations.


MESTI, she said, was providing the necessary support to the Authority in that regard to achieve this important development objective.


Mrs Appiagye disclosed that the National Building Regulations, LI 1630, was being revised by the Ministry of Water Resources, with support from the Ghana Institution of Engineers, and that inputs were expected from all professionals in the built environment to ensure effective implementation and compliance.


She, therefore, urged professionals in the built environment to collaborate to ensure that there were effective regulatory and monitoring mechanisms within the housing sector, adding that professionals, especially members of the GIP, were also expected to ensure that housing development was incorporated in the Medium Term Development Framework and Spatial Plans of Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assemblies (MMDAs).


In an address delivered on his behalf during a panel discussion, the Minister for Works and Housing, Hon. Samuel Atta-Akyea, stressed the need for government to diversify and increase the use of local building materials to reduce the cost of building and, thereby, reduce the housing deficit.


Hon. Atta-Kyea said increasing the use of local building materials would require the vigorous promotion of research, leading to the development of high-grades of local building materials.


He expressed concern about the inadequate maintenance of government’s landed and immovable properties, a situation he attributed to the absence of a modern and functional Building Code for the management of government’s assets.


Hon. Atta-Kyea announced that government had developed a Draft National Building Code as well as a Draft Standard Procedure Manual to guide the validation, adoption and gazetting of the Code and called for stakeholder consultations to help grow and channel their strengths and expertise into the construction sector and to real estate development, in particular.


In a welcome address, Mr Alfred Kwasi Opoku, Fellow, Ghana Institute of Planning (FGIP) and President, GIP, said determining the best solution for the housing deficit in Ghana required a re-examination of the appropriate mix in terms of design, materials and policy.


Mr Opoku urged Planners to protect the integrity of the Planning profession and work hard to be relevant to society, chart a new course for the profession and leave a credible legacy.


He urged Planners to resist corruption by granting permits to only qualified recipients and writing reports that reflected the actual situations.


The GIP President disclosed that 105 new members would be admitted into the membership of GIP and that from next year, he would be holding breakfast meetings with the membership of the institute with the aim of identifying capacity gaps and designing modules for Continuous Professional Development (CPD) courses.


As part of the meeting, presentations from different perspectives of the building industry were made as a means of helping to unravel the mystery of affordable housing.


During an open forum, participants stressed the need to redefine the term affordability, support private developers in housing delivery and change the mindset of the people on the use of local materials.


Source: ISD (G.D. Zaney)