Urban Forum

, Volume 26, Issue 3, pp 283–302 | Cite as

Urban Impacts of Resource Booms: the Emergence of Oil-Led Gentrification in Sekondi-Takoradi, Ghana

  • Alexander EdufulEmail author
  • Michael Hooper


Existing research on resource booms and their impacts has largely focused at the national level and been undertaken from an economic perspective, primarily through the lens of the resource curse. This study investigates an emergent resource boom in Ghana, where oil was discovered in 2007. Given the considerable existing research on national-level impacts of resource extraction, this study looks at the urban impacts of oil exploitation on the city of Sekondi-Takoradi, the largest urban settlement closest to the nation’s offshore oil fields. Drawing on detailed questionnaires completed by 636 people across multiple neighbourhoods, the study examines how oil discovery and exploitation have impacted the city. The study finds that many of the changes facing Sekondi-Takoradi can be understood in light of gentrification theory. This is important because there has been considerable debate over the extent to which models of gentrification, largely forged in the developed world, are relevant in the developing world. The findings of this study extend existing knowledge by not only connecting resource booms to processes of urban gentrification in Sub-Saharan Africa but by also demonstrating that multiple forms of gentrification take place simultaneously in these conditions. The paper concludes by suggesting several avenues through which planners and policymakers might better prepare for the kinds of urban changes that are likely to result from developing world resource booms.


Oil Natural resources Gentrification Urban Ghana Sekondi-Takoradi 



The research was made possible through funds provided by the Ghana Education Trust Fund (GETFund) and the Harvard University Graduate School of Design (GSD) to Alexander Eduful. The study also benefited from the resources at the Social Agency Lab of the Harvard GSD.


  1. Afenah, A. (2009). Conceptualizing the effects of neoliberal urban policies on housing rights: an analysis of the unlawful forced eviction of an informal settlement of Accra, Ghana. University College London, DPU Working Paper.Google Scholar
  2. Akli, E. (2010). “Ghana Oil Sold for $67.” The Chronicle, January 21 Edition. pp. 1-17.Google Scholar
  3. Ampene, E. (1966). A Study in Urbanization-Process Report on Obuasi Project. A Profile on Music and Movement in the Volta Region, Part I. Journal of Institute of African Studies; Research Review, 3(1), 42–47.Google Scholar
  4. Anderson, J. J., & Aslaksen, S. (2013). Oil and Political Survival. Journal of Development Economics, 100, 89–106.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Asafu-Adjaye, J. (2011). Oil production and Ghana’s economy: what can we expect? Ghana Policy Journal, 35–49.Google Scholar
  6. Auty, R. M. (1993). Sustaining development in mineral economies: the resource curse thesis. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  7. Auty, R. M. (2001). The Political Economy of Resource-Driven Growth. European Economic Review, 45, 839–846.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Aryee, B. N. A. (2001). Ghana’s mining sector: It’s contribution to the national economy. Journal of Resources Policy, 27(2), 61–75.Google Scholar
  9. Bank of Ghana (2013). Petroleum holding fund and Ghana petroleum funds: semi annual report. Accra: Bank of Ghana.Google Scholar
  10. Barma, N. H., Kaiser, K., Minh Le, T. & Vinuela, L. (2012). Rent to riches?: the political economy of natural resource-led development. Washington D.C: The World Bank.Google Scholar
  11. BBC News (2011). Ghana oil boom: everything is changing in Takoradi. Report by Rob Walker, 8th March, 2011.Google Scholar
  12. Biney, A. (2009). The Controversial Topic of Gentrification and its Impact on the Urban Core. Web. ( Accessed: April 10, 2013)
  13. Bryceson, D., & MacKinnon, D. (2012). Eureka and beyond: mining’s impact on african urbanization. School of Geographical and Earth Sciences. Scotland, UK: University of Glasgow.Google Scholar
  14. Busia, K. A. (1950). Report on Social Survey of Sekondi-Takoradi. London: Crown Agents for the Colonies, Milbank.Google Scholar
  15. Calavita, N. & Mallach, A. (2010). Inclusionary housing in international perspective: affordable housing, social inclusion and land value capture. Cambrige, MA: Lincoln Institute of Land Policy.Google Scholar
  16. Cape, J. (1935). Lusaka: The New Capital of Northern Rhodesia. New York: Routledge. Reprinted in 2013.Google Scholar
  17. Caselli, F. (2006). Power Struggles and the Natural Resource Curse, LSE Research Online, Working Paper, LSE London.Google Scholar
  18. Chrisomalis, S. (2006). Comparing cultures and comparing processes: diachronic methods in cross-cultural anthropology. Cross-Cultural Research, 40, 377–404.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Collier, P. (2010). The plundered plannet: why we must- and how we can manage nature for global prosperity. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  20. Corden, W. M. (1984). Booming sector and Dutch disease economics: survey and consolidation. Oxford Economic Papers New Series, 36(3), 359–80.Google Scholar
  21. Dasen, P. R. & Mishra, R. C. (2000). Cross-cultural Human Development in the Third Millennium, Vol. 24, Pp. 428-434Google Scholar
  22. de la Torre, A., Sinnott, E., & Nash, J. (2010). Natural resource in Latin America and the Carribean: beyond booms and busts? Washington, DC: The World Bank.Google Scholar
  23. Debrah, E., & Graham, E. (2015). Preventing the oil curse in Ghana: the role of civil society organizations. Insight on Africa, 7(1), 21–41.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Dickson, K. (1965). Evolution of Seaports in Ghana: 1800-1928. Annals of the Association of American Geographers, 55(1), 98–109.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Edjekumhene, I., Agyemang, P. O. & Edze, P. (2010). Ghana’s emerging oil industry: what stakeholders need to know? Accra: Combert Impressions.Google Scholar
  26. Egeand, K. E. (1981). The Impact of North Sea Oil on Stavanger. In W. J. Cairns and P. M. Roggers (Eds), Onshore Impacts of Offshore Oil (pp. 185-194). Applied Science Publishers Ltd.Google Scholar
  27. Eikeland, S. (2014). Building a High North Growth-Pole: The Northern Norwegian City of Hammerfest in the Wake of Developing the “Snow White” Barents Sea Gas Field. Journal of Rural and Community Development, 9(1), 57–71.Google Scholar
  28. Fasano, U. (2000). Review of the experience with oil stabilization and savings funds in selected countries. IMF Working Paper No. 00/112. Washington, DC: International Monetary Fund.Google Scholar
  29. Feagin, J. (1990). Extractive regions in developed countries: a comparative Analysis of Oil Capitals, Houston and Aberdeen. Urban Affairs Review, 25(4), 591–619.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Fraser, A. & Larmer, M. (2010). Zambia, mining and neoliberalism: boom and bust on the globalised Copperbelt. Palgrave MacMillan; 1st EditionGoogle Scholar
  31. Garside, J. (1993). Inner City gentrification in South Africa: the case of Woodstock, Cape Town. Geojournal, 30, 29–35.Google Scholar
  32. Gramling, B., & Brabant, S. (1986). Boomtowns and offshore energy impact assessment: the development of a comprehensive model. Sociological Perspectives, 29(2), 177–201.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. GSS [Ghana Statistical Services] (2005). 2000 Population and housing census: western region, analysis of district data and implications for planning. Accra: Asante & Hittscher Press Ltd.Google Scholar
  34. GSS [Ghana Statistical Services]. (2012). 2010 Population and housing census: summary of report of final results. Accra: Sakoa Press Limited.Google Scholar
  35. Gylfason, T. (2001). Natural Resources, Education and Economic Development. European Economic Review, 45, 847-859. Elsevier Science B.V.Google Scholar
  36. Hackworth, J. (2000). The Third Wave. Department of Geography, Rutgers University. PhD Thesis.Google Scholar
  37. Hackworth, J., & Smith, N. (2001). The changing state of gentrification. Tijdschrift voor economische en sociale geografie, 92(4), 464–477.Google Scholar
  38. Hetzler, O., Medina, V. E. & Overfelt, D. (2006). Gentrification, Displacement and New Urbanism: The Next Racial Project. Sociation Today, Vol. 4 (2). Fall 2006 (Web.; Accessed. 1st June 2015)
  39. Jütersonke, O., Muggah, R., & Rodgers, D. (2009). Gangs, Urban Violence, and Security Interventions in Central America. Security Dialogue, 40(4-5), 373–397.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Karl, T. L. (1997). The paradox of plenty: oil booms and petro-states. University of CaliforniaGoogle Scholar
  41. Karl, T. L. (2004). Oil-led development: social, political and economic consequences. Encyclopeadia of Energy, 4, 661-672. Elsevier Inc.Google Scholar
  42. Karl, T. L. (2007). Ensuring fairness: The case for a transparent fiscal social contract. In M. Humphreys, Sachs, J. D., & Stiglitz, J. E. (Eds.), Escaping the resource curse. Initiative for policy dialogue at Columbia series (pp. 256–285). New York: Columbia University Press.Google Scholar
  43. Keizeiri, K. S. (1983). Urbanisation Trends and State Intervention in Libya. Journal of Environmental Planning and Management, 26(1), 17–21.Google Scholar
  44. Lazarus, Ruth Glass. (1964). London: Aspects of change. London: MacGibbon and Kee.Google Scholar
  45. Lees, L. (2000). A reappraisal of gentrification: towards a ‘geography of gentrification’. Progress in Human Geography, 24(3), 389–408.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Lees, L. (2007). Afterword. Environment and Planning A, 39(1), 228–234.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Lees, L. (2012). The geography of gentrification: thinking through comparative urbanism. Progress in Human Geography, 36(2), 155–171.Google Scholar
  48. Lees, L., Slater, T., & Wyly, E. K. (Eds.). (2010). The gentrification reader. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  49. Lemanski, C. (2014). Hybrid gentrification in South Africa: theorising across southern and northern cities. Urban Studies, 51(14), 2943–2960.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Ley, D. (1978). Inner City Resurgence and its Social Context. Paper Presented to the Association of American Geographers, Annual Conference, New Orleans.Google Scholar
  51. Ley, D. (1996). The New Middle Class and the Remaking of the Central City. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  52. McCaskie, T. (2008). The United States, Ghana and oil: global and local perspectives. African Affairs, 107(428), 313–32.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Mehlum, H., Moene, K., & Torvik, R. (2006). Institutions and the Resource Curse. Economic Journal, 116(508), 1–20.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Nankani, G. T. (1979). Development Problems of Mineral Exporting Countries. World Bank Staff Working Paper No. 354. Washington D.C: The World Bank.Google Scholar
  55. Obeng-Odoom, F. (2009). Oil and Urban Development in Ghana. African Review of Economics and Finance, 1(1), 18–39.Google Scholar
  56. Obeng-Odoom, F. (2012). Problematising the Resource Curse Thesis. Development and Society, 41(1), 1–29.Google Scholar
  57. Obeng-Odoom, F. (2013). Windfalls, wipeouts and local economic development: a study of an emerging oil city in West Africa. Local Economy, 1-15.Google Scholar
  58. Oppermann, M. (2000). Triangulation-A Methodological Discussion. International Journal of Tourism Research, 2(1), 141–46.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  59. Petric, J. and Durdevic, J. (2011). The Use of Mineral Resources and Issues of Harmonization between Spatial Plans for the Mining Areas in Serbia with Other Strategic Documents. Spatum International Review, 24, 21-26. doi: 10.2298/SPAT 1124021P.
  60. PIAC [Public Interest and Accountable Committee] (2012). Report on Management of Petroleum Revenues for the Period 1st January 2012 to 30th June 2012. Government of Ghana.Google Scholar
  61. Rosenthal, E. 1970. Gold! Gold! Gold! The Johannesburg Gold Rush. New York: MacMillan.Google Scholar
  62. Ross, M. L. (2012). The oil curse: how petroleum wealth shapes the development of nations. Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
  63. Sachs, J. D. & Warner, A. M. (1995). Natural Resource Abundance and Economic Growth. National Bureau of Economic Research Working Paper 5398.Google Scholar
  64. Sachs, J. D., & Warner, A. M. (1999). The Big Push, Natural Resource Booms and Growth. Journal of Development Economics, 59(1), 43–76.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  65. Smith, N. (1979). Toward a theory of gentrification: a back to the city movement by capital, not people. Journal of the American Planning Association, 45(4), 538–548.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  66. Smith, N. (2002). New globalism, new urbanism: gentrification as global urban strategy. Antipode, 427-449.Google Scholar
  67. STMA [Sekondi-Takoradi Metropolitan Assembly] (2013): The Composite Budget of the Sekondi-Takoradi Metropolitan Assembly for the 2013 Fiscal Year. The Government of Ghana. (
  68. Sussna, S. (1989). Concept of Highest and Best Use under Takings Theory. Urban Lawyer, 21, 113–115.Google Scholar
  69. Tullow Oil. (2008). Exploration history and regional geology. Web. (; Accessed: March 15th, 2015).
  70. Visser, G. (2002). Gentrification and South African Cities. Journal of Cities, 19(6), 419–423.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  71. Visser, G., & Kotze, N. (2008). The State and the New-build Gentrification in Central Cape Town, South Africa. Urban Studies, 45, 2565–2593.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  72. Walker, D. M. (2008). Gentrification moves to the global South: An analysis of the Programa de Rescate, a neoliberal urban policy in México City's Centro Histórico. Unpublished doctoral dissertation. University of Kentucky.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and TechnologyKumasiGhana
  2. 2.Graduate School of DesignHarvard UniversityCambridgeUSA

Personalised recommendations