Accra puts in place a new economic resilience plan in the wake of COVID-19

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Addis Ababa, 26 November 2021 – Accra’s economy, like that of other African cities, was hard hit from the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. Yet, as per a study by the city, with the support of the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA), Accra demonstrated notable capacity to bounce back swiftly and record growth by the end of 2020.

According to the study, most of the economic stagnation was concentrated in the lockdown period from March to May in 2020, followed by substantial recovery in most sectors.

The findings of the study were presented at a multi-stakeholder workshop in Accra on 25 November, which brought together city officials, including Greater Accra Regional Minister Henry Quartey and Mayor of Accra Elizabeth Sackey, along with delegates from UN agencies, businesses and civil society.

Structural drivers of vulnerability

While many areas of strength were noted, the study points out weakened resilience in the local business environment, labor market and financial system, stemming from low productive activities, weak financial intermediation and poor social protection systems, especially for those in the informal sector. In addition, Accra’s small and medium-sized businesses find it especially hard to access affordable finance.

On the city’s basic services infrastructure and connectivity, areas for improvement were identified in the solid waste collection process, sanitation, health expenditure, and walkable and cyclable spaces.

The study further notes that the city’s rapid growth rate outpaces its capacity to plan ahead, provide adequate services and develop appropriate infrastructure, which ultimately spirals into a bigger challenge, affecting the living standards of millions in Accra.

Accra’s new resilience-building plan

In view of the findings, Accra has developed an Economic Recovery and Resilience Plan with technical assistance from ECA.

The plan was presented to the workshop participants to gather their feedback on its five thematic areas of resilience and explore ways to implement its policy recommendations. The thematic areas cover the city’s business environment, labor market, financial system, economic governance, and basic service infrastructure and connectivity.

In her statement, Ms. Edlam Yemeru, Director a.i. for ECA’s Gender, Poverty and Social Policy Division, said: “African cities were hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic which exposed underlying vulnerabilities, causing enormous suffering, adversity and job losses, with local governments losing up to two-thirds of their generated revenue.

“Yet, cities are critical to accelerate economic recovery from COVID-19 and strengthen future resilience – this calls for a renewed global focus on building urban resilience.”

She continued: “Accra’s Economic Recovery and Resilience Plan will not only assist the city in mitigating the economic effects of the pandemic but also in addressing the underlying vulnerabilities to withstand future crises.”

‘Leave no one behind’

Speaking at the workshop, Ms. Elizabeth Sackey, Mayor of Accra, thanked ECA for its technical assistance in supporting the drafting of the plan for Accra. She stressed that the recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic should leave no one behind, improve access to credit for small businesses and adopt a gender-responsive approach to overcoming the city’s existing challenges.

Addressing the participants, Mr. Charles Paul Iheanacho Abani, UN Resident Coordinator in Ghana, said: “We need to act swiftly to build local economies that will tackle the vulnerabilities exposed by the pandemic while building forward better… The plan seeks to contribute to policy interventions and implementation pathways towards enabling Accra to build forward better and enhance its resilience to shocks.”

The plan was developed after extensive multi-stakeholder consultations, including with authorities in Accra, and an in-depth diagnostics study, as part of a wider UN project, which seeks to strengthen the capacity of local governments in 16 pilot cities globally on building urban economic resilience in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Issued by: Communications Section Economic Commission for Africa PO Box 3001 Addis Ababa Ethiopia Tel: +251 11 551 5826 E-mail: