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Planning by (mis)rule of laws: The idiom and dilemma of planning within Ghana’s dual legal land systems


  • Emmanuel Frimpong Boamah

    (Department of Urban and Regional Planning, Community for Global Health Equity, State University of New York (SUNY) at Buffalo)

  • Clifford Amoako


This paper contributes to our understanding of urban planning challenges within dual legal land systems in sub-Sahara Africa. It draws ideas from Ananya Roy’s “idioms of urbanization and planning†to make two arguments regarding the prevailing idiom of planning urban and peri-urban areas in Ghana. First, there is (mis)rule of statutory planning and land laws: the state places itself both within and outside statutory planning laws to enforce eminent domain powers, lease publicly acquired land to private developers, (un)map people, places, and informal economic activities, and pay or refuse to pay compensation for publicly acquired land. Second, this (mis)rule co-exists with (mis)rule of customary land laws: customary authorities place themselves within and outside customary laws to negotiate with state and prospective land buyers, (re)lease publicly acquired lands to private developers, and engage in double dipping within Ghana’s deregulated land market (i.e. leasing the same land parcel to multiple developers). Thus, both state and customary authorities, as sovereign keepers of statutory and customary land and planning laws, are able to place themselves within and outside Ghana’s dual legal land rules to declare property ownership, enclaves of value, and zones of exception. Herein lies the idiom and dilemma of planning within Ghana’s dual legal land systems: (mis)rule of statutory and customary planning and land laws.

Suggested Citation

  • Emmanuel Frimpong Boamah & Clifford Amoako, 2020. "Planning by (mis)rule of laws: The idiom and dilemma of planning within Ghana’s dual legal land systems," Environment and Planning C, , vol. 38(1), pages 97-115, February.
  • Handle: RePEc:sae:envirc:v:38:y:2020:i:1:p:97-115
    DOI: 10.1177/2399654419855400

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    2. Kasanga, R. Kasim & Cochrane, Jeffrey A. & King, Rudith & Roth, Michael J., 1996. "Land Markets And Legal Contradictions In The Peri-Urban Area Of Accra Ghana: Informant Interviews And Secondary Data Investigations," Research Papers 12747, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Land Tenure Center.
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    6. Prosper Issahaku Korah & Patrick Brandful Cobbinah & Abraham Marshall Nunbogu, 2017. "Spatial Planning in Ghana: Exploring the Contradictions," Planning Practice & Research, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 32(4), pages 361-384, August.
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    1. Walter Dachaga & Walter Timo de Vries, 2021. "Land Tenure Security and Health Nexus: A Conceptual Framework for Navigating the Connections between Land Tenure Security and Health," Land, MDPI, vol. 10(3), pages 1-21, March.

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