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


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.

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Fig. 1
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  1. Information was gathered by the authors at the construction site during the field survey in 2012.

  2. Information obtained from an official of the Regional Lands Valuation Board (LVB)

  3. The exchange rate in July 2012 was US$1 = GH₡1.9


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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.

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Eduful, A., Hooper, M. Urban Impacts of Resource Booms: the Emergence of Oil-Led Gentrification in Sekondi-Takoradi, Ghana. Urban Forum 26, 283–302 (2015).

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