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The population of the region is concentrated in a few districts. The Kumasi metropolis alone accounts for nearly one-third of the region`s population. Slightly over half, 51.5 per cent, of the population of the region is in four districts. While more than half of the population in the region resides in urban areas, in 15 of the 18 districts, over half the population live in rural areas. The high level of urbanization in the region is due mainly to the high concentration of the population in the Kumasi metropolis (which has almost about a third of the region`s population).
Briefly discussed as background to the Ashanti Region, among others, are the history, location and physical features, modern political and traditional administration, cultural and social structure, religion, tourist attractions, demographic characteristics and the major economic activities.
There are 21 administrative districts (but before, 18) in the Ashanti Region including the Kumasi metropolis The region also has 33 constituencies and 840 electoral areas, the highest in the country. A Member of Parliament represents each of the 33 constituencies at the nation`s 200- member legislature.
The District/Metropolitan Assemblies are headed by Metropolitan/District Chief Executives. The District and Metropolitan Chief Executives are nominated by the President of the Republic and approved by two-thirds majority of the respective Metropolitan/District Assemblies. The Chief Executives, like the Regional Minister, are assisted by District Co-ordinating Directors. For effective administration, the Kumasi Metropolitan Assembly (KMA) has been sub-divided into four sub-metros, namely Asokwa, Subin, Bantama and Manhyia. The following three additional districts have been created, to bring the total number in the region to twenty-one (21).
Majority of the region`s population are Ghanaians by birth (87.3%) with about five per cent naturalized Ghanaians. A smaller proportion (5.8%) of the population originate from outside Ghana, made up of 3.7 per cent mainly from the five Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and 2.1 per cent from other African countries.
The non-African population living in the region is 1.8 per cent of the total population. Akans are the predominant ethnic group in the region, representing 77.9 per cent of Ghanaians by birth. A high proportion (78.9%) of the Akan population is Asante. The non-Akan population in the region comprises the Mole- Dagbon (9.0%), the Ewe (3.2%), the Grusi (2.4%), the Mande-Busanga (1.8%) and the Ga- Dangme (1.4%). The other smaller ethnic groups form about 1.3 per cent of the population of the region.
The region is the most populous and one of the most rapidly growing regions in the country. The region`s population is 3,612,950, representing 19.1 per cent of the country`s population. The region`s share of the national population increased steadily from 16.5 per cent in 1960 to 17.3 per cent in 1970 but remained almost the same (17.0%) in 1984 before increasing to its current level (19.1%).
The region`s population growth rate was 2.9 per cent per annum in 1970, dropped to 2.5 per cent per annum in 1984 and increased to 3.4 per cent in 2000, 1.3 times higher than the national average growth rate of 2.7 percent. The population growth rate of the region in 2000 is the second highest in the country, after the Greater Accra Region (4.4%). Although the region is the most populous, its density (148.1/sqkm) is lower than those of the Greater Accra (895.5/sq km) and the Central (162.2/sq km) Regions.
A number of factors, particulary high fertility and migration, may account for the rapid population growth in the region. The Total Fertility Rate, (TFR) which measures the number of children a woman, in her reproductive age, would give birth to, is high (4.8), compared with the national average of 4.0. The completed fertility by women 15-49 years (5.6) is lower than the TFR by 0.8; which implies a slightly lower current fertility schedule. The other reason for the growth is the centrality of the region and its economic potentials in the cocoa and mining industries, which attract people from other parts of the country to the region.
There are slightly more males (50.3%) than females (49.7%) in the region. This translates into a sex ratio of 101.3 males to 100 females in 2000. In 1960, the male population (51.2%) also exceeded that of females (48.8%) but in 1970 and 1984, the female population exceeded that of males.
The region has a youthful population with about two-fifths (41.9%) below 15 years of age. This proportion has declined consistently from 1970 (49.3%) and 1984 (45.3%), an indication of a decline in fertility. On the other hand, the proportion of the population aged 65 years and older has increased from 2.5 per cent in 1960 to 3.0 per cent in 1970 and 3.6 per cent in1984 to the current level of 6.1 per cent in 2000.
The urban population (51.3%) in the region exceeds that of the rural population (48.7%). The region is currently the second most urbanized in the country, after Greater Accra (87.7%). The growth of the mining industry in Obuasi and the increase in commercial activities in Kumasi may account partly for the relatively high urban population in the region.
One other factor that has also contributed to the high urban population in the region is the growth in some of the localities which were hitherto considered as rural settlements, but have now attained urban status (localities with population of 5000 and above).
For example, Atimatim in the Kawabre district, which had a population of 836 in 1970 and 1,123 in 1984, increased to 14,017 in 2000. Ahwiaa also in Kwabre, has grown from 2,110 in 1970 to a large town of 19,729. Both have grown mainly due to population spillover. Abuakwa in the Atwima district has grown from a small village of 970 people in 1970 to the largest town in the district, with a population of 16,582 in 2000, mainly due to to the establishment of industries such as the cocoa pesticide formulation plant and the Darko Farms. In the Kumasi metropolis itself, areas such as Ayigya, Dikyemso (Dichemso) and Tarkwa Maakro, which were small communities in 1960 and 1970, have grown into densely populated residential areas with 20- 40,000 people.
Migration is one of the three important factors of population change in a locality. Over the years, the region has attracted migrants from within and outside the country because of its economic potentials and its centrality as a nodal region. The non-migrant population of the region is 66.8 percent, having increased from 58.3 per cent in 1960, 56.8 per cent in 1970 and 63.8 per cent in 1984. Both the proportions of the intra-regional and inter regional movements decreased almost steadily from 1960. The proportion of the intra-regional migrants decreased from 21.4 per cent in 1960 to 13.1 per cent in 2000, while the proportion of the interregional migrants also decreased from 20.3 per cent in 1960 to 11.1 per cent in 2000.
About four-fifth (79.9%) of the population in the region were born in the region. This is 3.5 percentage points lower than in 1984. However, there are relatively more Ghanaians by birth and parenthood born in the locality of enumeration in 2000 (66.8%) than in 1984 (63.7%).
Whereas the proportion of the population born in another locality in the same region decreased by 6.6 percentage points, between 1984 and 2000, the proportion born in other regions during the same period increased by 1.9 percentage points. Ghanaians by birth in the region, born outside the country, increased for those born in ECOWAS and other African countries.
The population per house is high, between seven and 10 people in 13 districts and exceeds the regional average of 11 people in four other districts. Compound and separate houses are predominant in all the districts. While a high proportion of the population in the districts, particularly those in rural areas, own the dwelling units they live in, the proportion of households living in rented dwelling units is also relatively high, in districts with a high urban population.
Apart from the Kumasi metropolis, a high proportion, over 30.0 percent, of households in the districts, do not have access to potable water. Public toilets and pit latrines are commonly used. Between 66.6 and 87.1 per cent of households dispose of solid waste using public dumps. Solid waste is also disposed of by either throwing it on the street (14.2%to 62.6%) on the compound (18.0% to 45.9%) or into the gutter (59-58.7%). Wood and charcoal are the two main sources of fuel for cooking, used by over 70.0 per cent of households in the districts.
Kerosene is the main source of fuel used for lighting in 15 of the 18 districts. The other three districts, Kumasi metropolis (88.4%), Adansi West (61.3%) and Kwabre (53.1%), use mainly electricity. Kumasi is the regional and district capital, Adansi West has Obuasi, the home of Ashanti Goldfelds and the adjourning urban centres, and Kwabre is initially a spillover district of the Kumasi metropolis.
In many of the districts, the main occupation of a very high proportion of the predominantly rural population is Agriculture. The Poverty Reduction Strategy of the Government should therefore be focused on Agriculture in order to achieve the desired impact. In particular, the Ministry of Food and Agriculture needs to collaborate with the District Assemblies to develop schemes that will assist those engaged in agricultural and related activities.
Fertility is very high in all the districts in the region. The National Population Council, the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports and the District Assemblies need to collaborate with the relevant agencies to intensify education on the benefits, to the family and the nation, of having smaller numbers of children. Family Planning awareness campaigns have to be intensified, particularly in the following Districts: Ahafo Ano South, Sekyere East, Ejura Sekyedumase, Kwabre, Atwima and Bosomtwe/Atwima/Kwanwoma, where the TFR is particularly high.
Illiteracy levels are high in all the districts with differences between males and females in educational attainment. The Free Compulsory Universal Basic Education (fCUBE) programme has to be fully implemented, particularly targeting females in order to expand access to educational opportunities for the large youthful population. The District Assemblies, the Environmental Protection Agency and other relevant organizations should educate the population to desist from the indiscriminate throwing of waste materials and the use of charcoal and wood for cooking.
As a means of improving on the environmental situation in the urban areas, waste disposal containers should be placed at vantage points so that people can drop waste materials in them. Serious efforts should be made by the regional and district administrations to increase the number of Health Education and Communication facilities in the districts to improve upon the living conditions of the people. Appropriately effective punitive measures should be enforced to ensure that waste material is not disposed of indiscriminately.
The region has 36 Traditional Councils, each headed by a Paramount Chief. The Traditional Councils are the decentralized units of administration by traditional rulers and are used to mobilize the people at the local and community levels for development. The spiritual head of the region is the Asante King, the Otumfuo Asantehene. All the Paramount Chiefs in the region are members of the Ashanti Regional House of Chiefs, with the Asantehene as the President of the house. The main language spoken in the region is Twi. Several festivals are celebrated in the region, the major ones being the Akwasidae and AdaeKese. These are religious festivals celebrated by some members of the Akan ethnic group of which the Ashantis belong.
The festivals are celebrated to remember past leaders and heroes. Though they are dead, their spirits are supposed to be alive and taking interest in the affairs of the living, watching their doings and consulting with them at Adae.
It reveals that 35.0 per cent of the population, 15 years and older in the region are not literate. A little under half (48.1%) are literate in both English and a Ghanaian language. Only 3.2 per cent are literate in a Ghanaian language only, while less than 1.0 per cent are able to read and write in other languages.
The dominant religion in the region is Christianity (77.5%) followed by Islam (13.2%). The proportion of Christians is higher than the national average (68.8%), while that of Moslems is lower than the national average (15.9%). All other religious groups constitute insignificant proportions of the population. The proportion with no religion is however relatively high (7.3%).
The economically active population in the region is engaged mainly in Agriculture (excluding Fishing), with 44.5 per cent of them employed in the branch of activity. This represents a decline from the 1984 level of 61.9 percent. The next highest proportion of the economically active population is employed in Wholesale and Retail Trade (18.4%), followed by Manufacturing (12.2%) and Community, Social and Personal Services etc., (9.9%). These four major economic activities employ a total of 85.0 per cent of the economically active population, which is lower than that of 1984 (94.4%).
The proportion of the economically active population engaged in other economic activities is less than 5.0 per cent in each case. Water and Transport, Storage and Communications, Electricity, Gas and all the other activities increased their proportions of the economically active population employed in 2000 compared with 1984, except Agriculture, Hunting and Forestry.
The housing stock in the region is 329,478, of which 37.1 per cent are in urban areas and 62.9 per cent in rural areas. This is in constrast to the 17.4 per cent of houses in urban, and 82.6 per cent in rural, areas in 1970. The total stock also represents an increase of 86.8 per cent over the stock in 1984. The relative increase in the proportion of urban housing is a reflection of the increase in urbanisation. As a result, the region`s share of the national housing stock has increased over the years from 14.6 per cent in 1970 to 15.1 per cent in 2000.
A measure of the quality of dwelling is its size relative to the number of occupants, measured in terms of persons per room. There are more households per house in the region (2.1) than in the other regions. The average household size in the region (5.3) is higher than the national average (5.1) but lower than the three Northern Regions.
The proportion of the economically active population varies from 71.4 in the Kumasi metropolis to 85.2 per cent in the Amansie West District. Only five districts have proportions lower than 80.0 percent. The major occupation in all the districts is Agriculture/Animal Husbandry/Forestry, except in the Kumasi metropolis, where Sales workers predominate. The proportion of females in Sales is higher than that of males in all the districts.
The proportion of females in Agriculture/Animal Husbandry/Forestry is also higher than that of males for the region as a whole and for the following three districts: Kumasi, Ejura Sekyedumase, and Offinso. Residents in the rural areas are mostly in Agriculture whereas those in urban areas are mainly in Sales and Production work. Majority of the economically active population are self-employed, mainly in the private informal sector, which provides job opportunities, particularly for females with little or no formal education.
All the districts in the region have more than a quarter of households headed by females with the lowest (26.9%) in Ejura Sekyedumase, and the highest (40.1%) in the Ejisu-Juaben, Districts. Children constitute the greater proportion of household members in most of the districts, except in three: Kwabre, Sekyere East, and Ahafo Ano South, where “other relatives” outnumber children. In each district, children and other relatives account for more than 50.0 per cent of household members.
Information on the levels of educational attainment and literacy show that between 40.0 and 50.0 per cent of the population in the districts, particulary, females either have no formal education or have only pre-school education. The proportions of the population with basic education vary from 67.7 per cent in the Kumasi metropolis to 86.9 per cent in the Amansie West District. Between 51.3 per cent (Kumasi metropolis) and 73.0 per cent (Amansie West) of the population currently in school are in the primary school. The proportions in JSS are low, ranging from 16.1 per cent to 22.4 percent, tapering down further to lower proportions at higher levels of education.
Illiteracy levels are high in the districts and higher for females than the males; the level is also higher in rural areas than in urban areas. Illiteracy rates vary from 26.0 per cent in Kumasi metropolis to 64.7 per cent in the Ejura Sekyedumase District. Only three Districts, Kumasi metropolis, Adansi West and Ejisu-Juaben, have illiteracy levels lower than the regional average of 40.4 percent.
Apart from traditional healers, such as schools, hospitals/clinics and telephones, all of which contribute to the improvement in the living conditions of people, are scarcely found in all the districts, except the Kumasi metropolis. In most of the localities in the districts, the nearest facility is located more than 10 kilometres away. Traditional healing is the only facility that is mostly found in the localities or within a short distance.
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