This is the second of a two-part series written by Bill Endsley, an IHC Global Consultant and Principal of World Citizen Consulting. His guest posts reflect his personal life experience advocating for open property markets worldwide. Read Part 1 here.
Driving to a village on the outskirts of Accra, we waited in traffic for road construction. We saw the TroTros weaving in and out of traffic. These private minivans are the main form of transport for the average Ghanaian with a hawker hanging out shouting the destination and collecting the fee. We were in Ghana for the Ghana Real Estate Education Series partially sponsored by IHC Global and offered by the Ghana Real Estate Professionals Association.
“I know a family with land,” was a common refrain from many of the professionals in the program. On this field trip to visit a tribal village, we passed mile after mile of roadside stands where you could buy plantains, a sofa, building materials. As the land opened up and the hills came into view, we pulled down a dirt road where workers were putting in water lines. We came to the village center as the villagers were holding a funeral. Since 80% of land in Ghana is still controlled by the Chiefs, we visited the Village Chief to discuss a development project for homes and a school on a parcel of the village land.
Ghana finally emerged as a strong democracy in 1992 following decades of political turmoil after British rule. The country is still experiencing growing pains. Land markets are currently going through wild speculation as Ghana tries to merge the customary tenure system where the village Chief controls land use with a more centralized and transparent system that can be trusted by outside investors
Back in the classroom, we discussed how currently it is more profitable for Ghanaians to use their existing, closed networks, find available land, and traverse the complex and highly nuanced process to obtain the use right. Then rather than build desperately needed housing or other development, they either sell the use right or hold it in anticipation of an even higher lease price. The architect hosting our field trip is working with the Chief to build high-end homes for Ghanaian diaspora. He is looking for international investors to fund the development. However, opportunistic emerging market investors need transparent information to price risk and to obtain a higher profit to counter the risk.
The goal of the training programs was to use the International Property Markets Scorecard Methodology and other real estate best practice programs to help Ghanaian professionals develop the skills to help with the evolution of the land tenure system. The government has acknowledged this need and is currently considering legislation to regulate the property profession. As the land markets become more rational and property professionals gain skills and experience, they will be able to provide the information needed attract more international investment and see the country take the next step in economic growth.
William Endsley is an IHC Global Consultant and the Principal Consultant for World Citizen Consulting. He has over twenty years experience in developing international market strategy and has traveled throughout the America’s, Asia, Europe, and Africa working to develop professionals in the finance and real estate sector as a means for broader economic development and global security. He is currently working with IHC Global and the Center for International Private Enterprise (CIPE) on the International Property Markets Scorecard Methodology. He is an Adjunct Professor at Georgetown University and has guest lectured at Johns Hopkins and George Washington University. He previously served as the Director of International Relations for the Appraisal Institute where he directed the organization’s entry into China, Germany, Korea and Turkey.