The free zones policy and the national space economy: an analysis of the potential location of industrial activities in the northern sector of Ghana

Thumbnail Image
Journal Title
Journal ISSN
Volume Title
The space economy evolves overtime from a rudimentary stage to a matured and well integrated system. Its dynamism is facilitated by improvements in the physical infrastructure which in turn facilitates the interaction between goods and services, people and places. The existing form and structure of the space economy at any point in time is a reflection of the level of integration and development of the country. Governments seek to achieve development through the formulation and implementation of public policy which has varying effects on the space economy economic, social and more importantly spatial. It is important to emphasise that public policy affects the spatial arrangements of economic activities by modifying the conditions under which location decisions are made. In fact, the actual measures and strategies adopted towards the achievement of policy objectives, which may be entirely economic, social or a combination of the two, can have negative or positive impacts. The negative impacts tend to perpetuate spatial imbalances where they exist. Positive impacts on the other hand, induce development in otherwise dormant areas. The success of general economic or social policy therefore depends on the full anticipation of all implications - social, economic as well as spatial - and the ability of the government to influence the location of economic activities through improvements in infrastructure and the provision of attractive locational incentives. Other factors could be in the improvements in information dissemination and aggressive marketing. An examination of Ghana’s situation indicates an imbalance in the space economy in favour of the core region of Accra. This spatial imbalance has been perpetuated by the implementation of development policies over the years. Currently the implementation of one such policy, the Free zones policy is likely to perpetuate the imbalances existing in the Ghanaian space economy if government does not deliberately intervene to make alternative locations other than the present ones attractive to investors. Such deliberate interventions could be in the form of locational tax incentives as well as upgrading of essential facilities especially transport and communication infrastructure. The policy could also be used, with particular reference to EPZs, as an instrument of human settlement policy with the view to ensuring even distribution of population as well as equitable distribution of resources.
A thesis submitted to the Board of Postgraduate Studies, Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, Kumasi, in partial fulfilment of the requirement for the award of the Degree of Master of Science in National Development Policy and Planning, 1998