The SADA masterplan work areas

Agricultural Context

Ample land of the NSEZ is today dedicated to agriculture and livestock. The total cultivated area in the NSEZ is estimated to 20,313 km2. The sector employs approximately 74% of the local population and produces some 34% of the total national crop production. Many different types of crops are cultivated in the NSEZ, in addition to livestock like cattle, sheep, goats, guinea fowls and chickens, as well as fishing and aquaculture.
Crops are divided into two categories, namelyfood crops and cash crops. The food crops, although, take up a much larger amount of agriculture land. The main food crops for the NSEZ are yam and cassava, which the production is the highest for the Northern Region, Brong Ahafo Sub-region and the Upper West Region.
However, the NSEZ possesses a strong advantage and an almost exclusivity in the culture of groundnut, cowpea, millet, soybean and sorghum due to particular propitious soil and climate conditions for these kinds of crops. Moreover, soybean, sorghum, groundnut, cowpea and millet, or SSGCM are found to have high yields in the three northern regions.

Environmental Context

The whole region is predominantly flat with low elevation. The elevation map indicates three hilly chains: around Kintampo stretching from Techiman to Jerusalem; in Mole National Park along the north-south direction; and in the north-west from Walewale to the international border with Togo. The only mountainous area in the NSEZ is located in the Volta sub-region and spreads from Nkwanta to Hohoe. The Volta Basin covering the major eastern part of the NSEZ, from the eastern border to Mole National Park has a homogeneous low altitude plains (50 to 200m), whereas the western territory appears to be higher in elevation (200 to 400m). Such terrain with low general elevation and weak slopes, offers suitable land for mechanized agriculture. However, the low terrain is also susceptible to frequent flooding during heavy rain.

The NSEZ is drained by an extensive network or rivers and streams that connect to the Black and White Volta, both flowing into the Volta Lake, which is the major water body in the west- African subcontinent. These rivers and streams are strong assets for fishing and also transport purposes. The rich hydrology and stream network offer especially favourable terrain for irrigation and dam projects.
Agro-Ecological Zones
There are 4 agro-ecological zones in theNSEZ: Guinea Savannah for most of the area, Transitional zone for the southern part of the Brong Ahafo Sub-Region, Deciduous forest for the southern portion of the Volta Sub-Region and Sudan Savannah in the north-east of the Upper East Region. Majority of the NSEZ falls under savannah and transitional zones, which are favourable for legume and cereal crops cultivation.
The Soil Suitability study indicates large portions of land categorised as fairly and fairly to marginally suitable for cultivation of crops. The extreme south and upper east also present land highly suitable for extensive mechanized cultivation of export and food crops. Consequently, the NSEZ has ample proportion of good soil suitable for agriculture, crops and livestock.

Economic Context

NSEZ has a predominantly rural population that engages in subsistence agriculture activities, resulting in lower outputs of incomes and productivity as compared to the Southern parts of Ghana. It is estimated that NSEZ only contributes 14% of the total national GDP of Ghana in 20134 at USD 10.1 billion. Among which, the NSEZ contributes to almost 40% of the total agriculture GDP in Ghana. Breaking down further to the district level of contribution towards Ghana’s total GDP, it is evident that the regional capitals generate the highest income and are the main economic drivers in NSEZ.

It is also observed that the higher income producing districts are typically located along the North-South corridors in the eastern part of NSEZ, similar to the pattern of urban settlement growth. From the perspective of regional economic productivity, the entire NSEZ has a lower than average value addition per worker in Ghana. In particular, the Northern Region has the lowest value addition per worker within NSEZ even though it has the highest GDP contribution to the nation’s total income. This evidence therefore reinforces the low productivity, as a result of the prevalence of agricultural activities

Social Infrastructure

There is a disparity in the accessibility to basic services between the Southern Ghana and the NSEZ on the national level. In terms of the level of deprivation of basic services, most of the districts in NSEZ with the exception of the regional capitals, have high deficiency of basic services including water, sanitation and electricity. The situation is apparently the worse in both the Upper West and Upper East Regions, whereby more than half of each region have a deprivation score of as high as 90 (with a score of 100 as total deprivation).
Furthermore, a regional comparison of the type and level of deficiency of basic services in the urban areas reveals that there is high level of deficit of over 80% of W.C., solid and liquid waste disposal in all the 5 regions in NSEZ (Fig.3.25). Generally, more than 60% of the regions have access to electricity, followed by 40% of piped water. Notably, the urban areas in Upper East Region has the highest deficit of both electricity and piped water within NSEZ.

ICT Infrastructure

The national context for ICT Development is guided by the Ghana ICT for Accelerated Development (ICT4AD) Policy which was formulated in 2003. The ICT4AD list down the following 14 pillars for defining the focus and priority of ICT Development in Ghana:

Accelerated Human Resource Development
Promoting ICTs in Education – The Deployment and Exploitation of ICTs in Education Facilitating Government Administration and Service Delivery – Promoting Electronic Government and Governance
Facilitating the Development of the Private Sector
Developing an Export-Oriented ICT Products and Services Industry
Modernization of Agriculture and the Development of an Agro-Business Industry
Developing a Globally Competitive Value-Added Services Sector --- A Regional Business
Service and ICT Hub
Deployment and Spread of ICTs in the Community
Promotion of National Health
Rapid ICT and Enabling Physical Infrastructure Development
Legal, Regulatory, and Institutional Framework Provisions
R&D, Scientific and Industrial Research Capacity Development
Promoting Foreign and Local Direct Investment Drive in ICTs.

Population, Urbanization & Human Settlement

Following the population growth trend of overall Africa continent and Western Africa region, the population in Ghana has quadrupled from around 6 million to over 24 million between 1960 and 2010 with an average annual growth rate of 2.5% between 2000 to 2010. Urbanization has also taken place extensively with the doubling of urban population share from 23% to 50.9% in the past 50 years. Theurban population though has been increasing at a decreasing rate from an average of 4.7% annually during 1960 to 1970 to 4.2% during 2000 to 2010. Nevertheless, with future population growth and economic development, the share of urban population in Ghana is likely to continue to grow significantly. This will have a critical impact on the future physical and social infrastructure development in Ghana over the next decades in view of meeting the growing demand arising from the increase population given this historical trend.


NSEZ is drained by a large number of streams and rivers flowing southward with the Atlantic Ocean as the final discharge point.
Due to the proximity to the Sahara Dessert, NSEZ is much drier than southern areas of Ghana. There are two seasons in NSEZ; wet season is between May and October and dry season is between November and April. The average annual rainfall increases from 750 mm to 1300 mm from north to south of NSEZ.
Drainage Catchment
NSEZ has a generally flat terrain with small desert mountains. Storm water runoff naturally flows southward through the various streams

Power Supply

Power Supply in Ghana comes from two main sources:
Hydro Power Plant (55%)
Thermal Power Plant (45%)
The main power source in Ghana is Hydro Power which includes 3 numbers of main hydro power plants named Akosombo (1020MW), Bui (400MW) and Kpong (160MW). Total power generation for 2014 is 5683GWh, 1017GWh and 700GWh respectively. The second power source is thermal power. There are total 8 thermal power plants in Ghana with 1130MW generation capacity and power generation in 2014 is 7317.3GWh. The Kpone (230MW) and Takoradi 2 (110MW) power plants are near term projects which will be connected to the national grid in 2016. Table 3.7 summarizes the power plants and installed grid electricity generation capacity as of Dec 2014. and rivers towards the Atlantic Ocean. Three main river systems, namely the Volta Basin, South-Western Basins and Coastal Basin make up the natural drainage catchments of the country, covering 70%, 22% and 8% of Ghana’s land surface respectively30. NSEZ lies within the Volta Basin which is comprised of several major drainage catchments such as the Oti, White and Black Volta, as well as many minor catchments such as the Daka, Pru and Sene (Fig.3.108). The White and Black Volta Rivers converge to form the Lake Volta which is the world’s largest manmade reservoir by surface area.


The mining industry is one of the key economic sectors of Ghana, contributing to more than 5% of the national GDP. Minerals make up a significant 37% of total exports, among which gold contributes over 90% of the total mineral exports23. As one of the top ten gold producing country in the world, Ghana remains as the second largest gold producer in Africa and thus the main focus of Ghana’s mining and minerals industry have been particularly on gold.

Currently, gold production of the country is congregated at the South (Fig. 3.84). The largest gold mine in the country, Tarkwa Gold Mine, is located at the Western region at southwestern Ghana, approximately 300 kilometres by road west of Accra. This probably explains for the large concentration of the headquarters of mining companies in Accra and Tema.


There are currently about 4,500 km of national, 2,600 km of inter-regional, and 7,900 km of regional trunk roads in Ghana that connect the regions, districts and towns. Four major transport corridors are identified, out of which three are key North-South connections. They are:

Central corridor linking Accra/Tema, Kumasi, Tamale, Bolgatanga and the border-crossing at Paga, as well as connecting to Sekondi- Takoradi.
Coastal corridor linking the urban settlements along the coast including Tema, Accra, Cape Coast and Sekondi Takoradi. Accra, Kumasi,Sunyani and Dormaa are additionally bound together with the old N6 highway.
Eastern corridor linking the urban centres in the Volta Region with Greater Accra and the Northern Region.
Western corridor connecting Kumasi, Sunyani, Sawla, Wa and Hamale. However, it is noted that the road links are weak in the southern part of the western corridor, and lacks connectivity to the south-west and south-east directions.

Tourism & Heritage

Ghana is one of the top tourist destinations in Africa. The country proposes various tourism sites and opportunities for visitors: eco-tourism, culture and history, craft, festivals and events. In 2011, more than 1 million people visited Ghana, captivated by the charms of the Volta. Lake shores, the fascinating historical heritage, the rich culture and the stunning wildlife of the Ghanaian National Parks.
The distribution of visitors over the different sites in the country shows a strong concentration in the south: Cape Coast, Takoradi, Kakum National Park, Kumasi, Accra and the Volta southern lakefront attract most of the tourists. “The triangle of Accra-Kumasi-Cape Coast remains forms the core of tourism development and activity within Ghana”18. Tourism is comparatively less vibrant in the NSEZ with few tourist sites and not as popular as the southern attractions: Mole National Park, Kintampo and its surroundings, Bolgatanga & Paga.