Akwaaba! and a hearty welcome. My name is Benedict Arko, and I am the RSA Ambassador to Ghana. I am a Lecturer at the Department of Geography Education at the University of Education, Winneba in Ghana. My research interests converge at the intersections of development and economic geography. I mainly focus on the spatial dimensions of development in its discourses and materializations from critical perspectives. I teach courses in economic geography, urban and regional planning among others.
We are in the process of building a strong and vibrant RSA network in Ghana. Regional studies in Ghana is still young and has very bright prospects. Scholars in the early days of the sub-discipline were mainly focused on accounting for the very sharp economic disparities between the north and the south of the country. In recent times, the focus has been on interrogating the mainly donor-inspired neoliberal approaches to stimulating regional economies within a not so enthusiastic and superficially decentralized institutional environment. Another key challenge to stimulating regional economies has been the very high level of informality which accounts for about eighty percent of the active labour force. This informal economy has been most impervious to growth-oriented policy action. Since the last few years, the central government in an ambitious attempt to stimulate regional economies has embarked on a decentralized industrialization programme known as the One District One Factory initiative. This is a private-sector led initiate within a framework of state support. A few years down the line, the demons responsible for the age-old regional disparities seem to be at their best marshalling all the agglomeration forces they can muster to pull most of the factories already rolled out into the confines of the two main growth poles in the country namely Accra and Kumasi, neither of which is in the north. Added to this is how regions in Ghana are going to position themselves to address the challenges and opportunities emerging from the creation of the Africa Continental Free-Trade Area and the Covid-19 pandemic. This is but just a tip of the ice-berg of issues that scholars would have to grapple with going into the future.
In case you find yourself teaching or researching in/on Ghana or are just interested, you are very much welcome to join our network. We hope to roll out several activities that will enable us to engage at least once every quarter. We very much like to encourage members who have lost contact with the RSA since returning/coming to Ghana to re-join and be part of our network. We are ready to offer every assistance needed in this direction.
In November 2022, Benedict Arko, RSA Ambassador to Ghana, had the opportunity to share information about the Regional Studies Association to participants of the Ghana Geographers Conference at the University of Cape Coast, Ghana.