Accra has been Ghana’s capital since 1877 when it was transferred from Cape Coast. Today it is one of the most populated and fastest growing Metropolis in Africa with a population of one million six hundred and sixty-five thousand and eighty six (1,665,086) and an annual growth rate of 3.1%.
The first attempt to set up a Town Council dates back to 1859 under an Ordinance, which was annulled in January 1861. However, in 1898, the Accra Town Council was formally established under the Town Council Ordinance of 1894.
The first meeting of the Council was held on 14th February in the same year. The Accra Council was established in 1943 under the Accra Town Council Ordinance. In 1944, a new constitution came into being after the Accra Town Council had existed for 46 years with an elected membership of Seventy-Five (75) appointed by the Government and two appointed by the Ga Native Authority. The Constitution was again revised in September, 1953, thus enlarging the membership from 14 to 31, and establishing the Accra Municipal Council; 27 representatives for the Wards and four representing the Traditional Authority.
After Ghana attained Independence in 1957, an amendment was made to the 1953 constitution and it wiped off traditional representation completely. The Council became a wholly representative institution. The Accra City Council was the first of the 58 District Councils to be integrated under the New Local Government System to promote efficiency in the administrative machinery of the Council and to meet the ever-pressing demand for amenities and essential services by the ratepayers. Six Area Councils were created under the new system. These six Area Councils are Ablekuma, Ashiedu Keteke, Kpeshie, Okaikwei, Ayawaso and Osu-Klottey, which are semi-autonomous.
On the 29th June 1961, Accra was declared a City and the Council thus became the Accra City Council. A further development took place in March 1963 with the establishment of the Accra-Tema Development Corporation with responsibilities for certain functions that were formerly carried out by the Council.
The Accra City Council was dissolved in August 1964; after which the Greater Accra area was created and a Special Commission was appointed. The Special Commission was made administratively responsible for the Accra-Tema City Council. Also in the same year, the Executive Chairman of the Accra-Tema City Council was appointed.
Article 240 (1), Chapter 20 of the 1992 Constitution of the Republic of Ghana states that, “Ghana shall have a system of Local Government and Administration which shall, as far as practicably be decentralized”. This provision gave legal support to the decentralization programme, which was initiated in Ghana in 1988 by recognizing the existence of a decentralized programme in Ghana. The constitution is designed to provide a general legal framework for the governance of Ghana; it further enjoins the Parliament of Ghana to enact the necessary laws to ensure the smooth implementation of the decentralized programme.
To this effect Article 240 (2) provides some guidelines to Parliament on what the specific Local Government law should contain. This is the justification for our Local Government Act, 1993 (Act 462), which was promulgated to establish and regulate the Local Government systems in accordance with the Constitution and to provide for other connected purposes.
The Local Government Act 1993 (Act 462) has provisions for the following:
- Creation of Districts
- Establishment of District Assemblies
- Composition of the District Assemblies
- Qualification and disqualification of members of the District Assemblies
- Functions of the District Assemblies
- Planning and other Functions of the District Assemblies etc…
The Constitution in Article 241 makes provision for the establishment of the District Assemblies and the boundaries of the Districts. It goes on to recognize the District Assemblies as the Lowest National Administrative Organs. Structurally, the AMA is made up of the General Assembly at the apex, followed by Ten (10) Sub-Metropolitan District Councils which are subordinate bodies of the Assembly performing functions assigned to them by the instrument that sets up the Assembly or delegated to them by the Assembly.