Constitutional economics of Ghana’s decentralization

World Development journal.

Emmanuel Frimpong Boamah, assistant professor of urban and regional planning, examines the rules that are often chosen to frame decentralization in Ghana.

This paper perceives the challenges of multi-level governance in postcolonial sub-Saharan African countries, such as weak local government capacity for urban planning, as effects of ill-conceived constitutional rules. The paper draws ideas from constitutional political economy (CPE) to problematize the constitutional rules underlying Ghana’s current state of decentralization. Boamah argues that these constitutional rules, embodied in Ghana’s 1992 Constitution and Local Government Act (462), evince both continued dominance of state control over local governance and a systemic transfer of the logics and instruments of the authoritarian Provisional National Defence Council (PNDC) military regime to the choice of constitutional rules for Ghana’s decentralization. In other words, Ghana’s decentralization patterns and processes must be examined in the context of the constitutional regime from which they were born. One such pattern is the creation of new local governments (a gerrymandering strategy) by successive governments without commensurate improvement in local democratic and pro-poor developmental outcomes.

The paper’s discussions, largely conceptual but interlaced with empirical moments, serve to stimulate debate about the relationships between the constitutional rules for decentralization and their socioeconomic and political effects. Boamah concludes by reflecting on the conceptual and methodological challenges of using CPE to analyze constitutional rules for decentralization and offer ideas to address these challenges in future research.


Emmanuel Frimpong Boamah, Assistant Professor
Department of Urban and Regional Planning


World Development

Date Published