Rent Culture 215


Ghana in general is a well balanced society with a good education system and a large middle class. But there is a huge social problem affecting those at the bottom of the ladder, which there appears no will at all among the political class even to acknowledge, let alone tackle, and that is rent.

Ghana’s agricultural production has never collapsed, unlike Nigeria, and the traditional patterns of society in rural areas have not broken down. Modern services, in terms of edication, electrification and clean water, have penetrated rural communities better than in any other African country, though there are still areas of concern, particularly in the North. But the overall good picture means that there has therefore been less extreme urban drift, less shanty town existence, than in most of the developing world, and therefore less urban violence.

But despite all this there is a terrible problem with the rent culture of Accra. The poor all rent housing, rather than own. Demand exceeds supply and landlords invariably demand three, or at the very least two, years’ rent in advance. This is absolutely established as the way the market operates, and for the poor there is no way around it. Three years’ rent is typically over one year’s income, and in consequence the poor are sucked into a permanent life of debt. This applies to the majority of people living in the City. Quite literally, a day never passes in which at least one Ghanaian doesn’t ask me to lend them the money for their rent; yesterday there were four. I help where I can.

This situation was already calamitous but is going to get much worse, as land values are already starting to soar with the coming of the oil industry. I have good friends at the highest levels in all the Ghanaian political parties, but they all seem to have been so indoctrinated with IMF economics that they do not even consider rent controls. Unfortunately the performance of both the NPP and the NDC in building social housing has been very poor. I am forced to the opinion that the plight of the poor is not actually a pressing concern in the minds of the educated classes in Ghana in general.

The fierce party political divisions in Ghana need to be put aside, and an all-party solution on social housing and on rents has to be pursued with vigour, as a primary use for some of Ghana’s oil revenues.


215 thoughts on “Rent Culture

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  • Mary

    My niece married a Ghanaian who is a teacher now having got his qualifications here. Guess what his brother is doing? He is in Germany serving in the British Army! I don’t know what brought them here and whether it was poverty or lack of opportunity. My niece’s husband seemed to be ignorant of what was going on in Iraq and just smiled when my brother showed him some of the photos of some of the horror. He couldn’t see anything wrong about his brother going into the army and said the mayhem in Iraq was God’s will!

  • kwadwo

    Well said. How can gov’t not simply build even 50K house using posolana cement not rip off gacem cement and this housing problem will be a thing of the past.

  • derek

    Henry George had it right back in 1898 when he wrote in his book ‘Progress and poverty’

    “Take a country in which the soil is divided among a number of
    proprietors, instead of being in the hands of one, …
    Though less direct and obvious, the relations between the owners of the soil and the laborers will, with increase of population and the improvement of
    the arts, tend to the same absolute mastery on the one hand and the same abject helplessness on the other…. Rent will advance, while wages will fall. Of the aggregate produce, the land owner will get a constantly increasing, the
    laborer a constantly diminishing share. Just as removal
    to cheaper land becomes difficult or impossible, laborers,
    no matter what they produce, will be reduced to a bare
    living, and the free competition among them, where land
    is monopolized, will force them to a condition which,
    though they may be mocked with the titles and insignia
    of freedom, will be virtually that of slavery. ”

    Read it online at http://www.archive.org/details/writingsofhenryg02geor

    To summarise George’s philosophy.
    If Gahnaian farmers have a good crop. Their rent will go up.
    If the Gahnaian government cuts their taxes to ease their poverty. Their rent will go up.
    There is no escape from rent slavery.

  • anno

    Mary
    I recognise the mind-set of blind acceptance, not just in Islam, but in this formerly Christian country and in conversations with Sikhs as well. If they’re clever enough to do that, it’s God’s will. Going back to basics, the head count of sheep and goats is Judgement Day, and the deeds will be put on the scale. We can accumulate bad deeds without noticing it, and we are definitely in God’s favour if He brings them to our attention so we can do something about it , instead of sailing smiling on like Blair on an excusing breeze from Israel.
    The Qur’an and the Gospels are full of entreaties for us to recognise our responsibilities not only to God, but also to our fellow human beings. Our failure to feed the poor, protect rights, and physically defend human beings is paramount in tipping the scale towards His mercy.
    I remember in the 1980s, my political awareness having being rudely awakened by Thatcherism, that the mad cow had sent 5 million quid to Saddam Hussain. No doubt an early symptom of the War on Terror to assist him in putting down the growing Islamic insurgency in Kurdistan. She knew, and we are witness, that he hardly needed assistance in his suppression of the Kurdish people. We are beginning to join up the dots between the rule of the Thatcher Tories and New Labour, and now between old Tory rule and the present day. Democratic elections apply fog to what is in fact a continuous progress of neo-con governance.
    It is as unexcusable to neglect the plight of the poor as God’s will, as to pretend that political events like the invasion of Libya are unplanned and spontaneous. It is God’s will definitely. Why does He allow this evil to exist? He made this world alluring in every way, to test us, which of us will do righteous good deeds. We read this every Friday in the Chapter called The Cave in the Qur’an. David Cameron, in professing weak Christianity but signing for civil war in Libya in order to take over Libyan oil etc, will be asking for a bit of half-forgiveness on the Day of Judgement. Please could you turn down the heat to half, from 300,000 degrees C to 150,000 degrees?

  • Jives

    Craig,.
    .
    Iv’e just read that Ghana has 5 billion barrels of proven oil reserves and the economy is growing at roughly 20% per annum.Slightly OT but do you have any knowledge of Sierra Leone’s oil reserves? The subject seems to have been shrouded in secrecy for decades.
    .
    Thanks.

  • Anon

    “Defending Council Housing
    22 Mar 2010

    Dave has written to his constituents about his campaign to defend council housing.

    He highlights Tory plans to increase rents for council tenants to the same level as private rents, ending their right to secure tenancy and giving a massive rent rise. he has launched a petition to the Prime Minister to ensure that these Tory plans don’t see the light of day.

    Dave’s letter reads:

    I am writing to let you know about some of the changes the Conservative Party plan to bring in if they form the next government. Their plans would end the right of council tenants to a secure tenancy and massively increase rents.

    The Tories want to increase rents for council tenants to the same level as private rents. The average council rent in England is £61.63. The average private rent is £132.46.

    They also want one form of tenancy, meaning that no matter how long you have lived in your home, your tenancy could be ended with just two months notice and the landlord wouldn’t have to give a reason.

    The Conservative leader of Hammersmith and Fulham Council and leader of David Cameron’s Council Innovation Unit has been exposed over plans to demolish 3,400 council homes in his borough to make way for property developers, end secure tenancies and increase rents to £225 per week. The choice in the forthcoming election is between a Tory government which would attack council housing and Labour which will defend the rights of council tenants – the choice is clear.

    Labour has clear policies and a strong track record on council housing. As your Labour MP, I can give you the following commitments:

    Labour will not take away secure tenancies
    We will not hike up council rents
    We will continue to build more council homes
    We will ensure decent living standards for everyone
    Gateshead Housing Company, working with our Labour Council and Government has delivered massive investment in council housing across Gateshead. Our Decent Homes Programme has brought forward £356 million worth of improvements and we are now seeing new council properties being built. In contrast, the future of council housing is under threat if the Tories get back into power.

    I am enclosing an information sheet produced by the trade unions and inviting you to join my campaign to secure the future for current and future generations of council tenants. Please register your support by visiting my website, emailing me or contacting my office.

    Yours sincerely,
    Dave Anderson MP

    PS – I have written this letter to one person in each household, please share the information with your family, friends or anyone you think might be affected by these Tory plans.”
    .
    http://www.daveanderson.org.uk/news10.htm

  • Passerby

    Classic example of a promoted and instituted stagnant economy. The issue is not the poor, it is far more sinister and is about manufacturing a vast pool of poor.
    ,
    The huge amounts of money sought for, at the start of the rental period, clearly yield a market for “loans” which in all probability are not regulated, nor supervised, that in effect is a free for all rob the poor even more, by lending them the money they have just put down as the rental money so they can buy food, and clothes, water, electricity, etc.
    ,
    Nice for the money lenders, and the land lords, but in turn reduces the economic activities that in turn limits diversification and scope of the said economy. That keeps the third world, in third status, reducing the levels of global competition that in turn goes back to a negative growth of wealth for the general population, whilst liming the scope and diversity of the global economy.
    ,
    Thus the oligarchs rule the planet.
    ,
    Solution; a clear cut set of rules of contract and enforcement regs thereof, that can also take into account the banking sector.
    ,
    Likelihood of change; nil, because of the vested interests and IMF involvement.

  • Guest

    Cartoons depicting a greedy landlord
    1909
    .
    [http://gdl.cdlr.strath.ac.uk/redclyde/images/redcly087.jpg]
    [http://gdl.cdlr.strath.ac.uk/redclyde/images/redcly084.jpg]
    [http://gdl.cdlr.strath.ac.uk/redclyde/images/redcly083.jpg]
    [http://gdl.cdlr.strath.ac.uk/redclyde/images/redcly088.jpg]
    [http://gdl.cdlr.strath.ac.uk/redclyde/images/redcly086.jpg]
    [http://gdl.cdlr.strath.ac.uk/redclyde/images/redcly085.jpg]
    .
    And always the end result.
    1914
    [http://gdl.cdlr.strath.ac.uk/redclyde/images/redcly165.jpg]

  • anno

    Daniel
    Inshallah Craig will acquire many millions of hectares in Jannat/Heaven by adding his already vast collection of good deeds to future entry into Islam.

  • Abe Rene

    Maybe you should help quietly to found a multi-party group of politicians who will agree to encourage the formation of a consensus in Ghana’s political circles. But you would need to move discreetly, so that you wouldn’t be accused of interfering in the country’s domestic politics. You might apporoach Ghannaian politicians already sympathetic to the idea and organise a multi-party seminar.

  • Mary

    Interesting. Thought it had all gone too smoothly for the one with the tombstone teeth and the shining white hair and his NY funder Wilbur Ross. The investigation is a pretence obviously.
    .
    NAO to probe Northern Rock sale
    Saturday 17th December 2011, 5:50PM GMT.
    .
    The controversial sale of state-owned bank Northern Rock will be investigated by the public spending watchdog it has been confirmed.
    .
    Amyas Morse, the head of the National Audit Office (NAO), said he would examine the deal to sell the bank to Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Money for £747 million.
    .
    Labour has questioned the timing and value for money of the agreement, which leaves taxpayers facing a potential £400 million-plus loss.
    .
    Shadow financial secretary Chris Leslie, to whom Mr Morse confirmed the probe in a letter, called for the sell-off to be delayed so that it could be pre-assessed by the NAO.
    .

    But the watchdog said that its role confined it to auditing a completed sale and it could not intervene in the process.
    {Express and Star}
    ~~~
    details of the deal – http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-16035145

  • stephen

    Surely rent/price controls on their own would not work – have they anywhere long term on their own? I can see the argument for short term rent controls – but isn’t the log term answer that somthing has to be done about the supply of property – and (this is the bit the IMF really won’t like) that means social/state provision.

  • Jives

    @ Mary,
    .
    This is just window dressing.Every can claim due diligence has occurred thereby covering themselves for the future.Gideon claimed that the taxpayer funded buyout for £1.4 billion then sold to Virgin for £747 million (ho ho) represented ” good value for money.” Good value for who one must wonder?

  • Richard Powell

    Most of the comments have nothing to do with the matter at hand. Why not just delete them? Eliminating spam is not censorship.

    You rightly note that Ghana is well-balanced by African standards. This is partly because traditional structures remain in place. So where do the traditional rulers, who command significant power and perhaps popular legitimacy, stand on this issue? Are they part of the problem, or of the solution? And how did the rentiers come by their property?

    You do not mention population growth as a significant factor – but with a population expanding by 2.4% a year the pressures can only increase.

    As far as rent controls are concerned, let’s not forget that Ghana tried crude socialism back in the 60s, with results that took a generation to recover from.

    There are no obvious answers which wouldn’t throw up unintended consequences. The question of land ownership could do with closer analysis; would some form of cooperative development (housing association) be the answer? And is there a role for DfID, given its continuing commitment to tackling poverty at root?

  • Jives

    Richard Powell,
    .
    “Most of the comments have nothing to do with the matter at hand. Why not just delete them? ”
    .
    My,aren’t we the brusque centralist eh?
    .
    Catch yersel’ son.

  • Guest

    “Iv’e just read that Ghana has 5 billion barrels of proven oil reserves”
    .
    Ripe for invasion!.

  • Jives

    @Guest,
    .
    “Iv’e just read that Ghana has 5 billion barrels of proven oil reserves”
    .
    Ripe for invasion!.
    .
    Nah,you’ve gotta have at least 80 billion before the wolves are interested.

  • Mary

    The BBC are still putting out their lies, ie
    ‘Nearly 4,500 US soldiers and tens of thousands of Iraqis have died since the US-led campaign began in 2003’.
    .
    Last US Troops withdraw from Iraq
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-16234723

    .
    An e-mail sent to them by a Medialens contributor this morning
    ..
    What on Earth does your ‘news’ bulletin mean by saying that tens of thousands of Iraqis died during the US aggression against that country, now supposedly ‘ended’? The most reliable estimates say around one million Iraqi dead, and three to four million driven into exile. Anyone with a computer and an internet connection can research these matters and get at the realities. Why won’t the BBC ‘news’ writers? What price your endlessly-vaunted objectivity and balance? This abuse of public trust is grotesque.

    .
    {http://members5.boardhost.com/medialens/msg/1324197283.html}

  • Mary

    I got quite excited when I saw the headline thinking that he had been abandoned by the Tory boys. No. He has just lost his job as a bag carrier for Ms Greening.
    .
    18 December 2011
    MP Aidan Burley sacked after ‘Nazi’ party guest photo
    Mr Burley was appointed parliamentary private secretary to the transport secretary in October
    .
    A Conservative MP has been sacked as a parliamentary private secretary over “offensive and foolish” behaviour.
    .
    Cannock Chase MP Aidan Burley was pictured in the Mail on Sunday last week with a man dressed as a Nazi SS officer at a stag party in France.
    .
    Mr Burley said subsequently he “deeply regretted” what had happened.
    .
    But the Conservative Party said the MP was being removed from his post and it was launching a fuller investigation “in light of information received”.
    .
    A Conservative Party spokesman said: “Aidan Burley has behaved in a manner which is offensive and foolish.
    .
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-16234529

    .
    He has sent an apology to the Jewish Chronicle as you would. So that’s alright then.

  • John Goss

    Mary, I can’t believe there was a time when I used not to question the BBC news presentation on most things. Now I question everything. I ask “What is the real message behind this?” “Who is paying for it?” “Is any part of it believable?”

  • nuid

    “Most of the comments have nothing to do with the matter at hand”
    .
    Indeed.
    .
    Craig has stated that, “an all-party solution on social housing and on rents has to be pursued with vigour, as a primary use for some of Ghana’s oil revenues” despite the, “fierce party political divisions in Ghana”.
    .
    But, he has also stated that his, “friends at the highest levels in all the Ghanaian political parties … all seem to have been so indoctrinated with IMF economics that they do not even consider rent controls”, and further, that he is, “forced to the opinion that the plight of the poor is not actually a pressing concern in the minds of the educated classes in Ghana in general”.
    .
    This leads me to think that any top-down solution is not going to happen, or even be considered. Which in turn leads me to think that what’s needed is a movement among the poor themselves to demand fairer rents and fairer treatment in general by landlords. I have no idea if there are any popular community leaders or activists who could start such a movement. I know nothing of Accra, unfortunately.
    .
    But the way Craig poses the problem, I doubt if any “all-party solution on social housing” is going to happen, without some grass roots activity/protest to force it into existence.
    .
    Admittedly, given what’s going on in the world today, I am thinking in rather black and white terms — either revolt, or shut up and take what’s coming to you.

  • anno

    Richard Powell
    My son rents a small house near Cardiff for £600 p.m. and he works part-time on minimum wage.
    We are the perfect role model for solving Africa’s problems. Nuff said.

  • anno

    On a grand scale, we the people of the UK have been forced to be complicit in state wrongdoing and state-sanctioned elite wrongdoing against other nations for the last 1000 years.
    The tiny inroads we have made for this country to be operate through justice have always been overuled by the next generation. Baggie Batcher saw the relinquishing of our empire as a terrible sign of weakness. Why did we not return to wrongdoing and Victorian values? The neo-con policy was put in place just one single generation after this country was nearly destroyed by Hitler. The policy of enslaving our own people and the nations of the world that are weaker than us.
    In the Qur’an Allah says that his retribution for wrongdoing is swift.
    Chapter Ya Seen.
    ‘And when they are asked to feed others from what their has provided to them, those who disbelieve in their Lord say to those who believe in him, ‘What? You want us to feed those who, if He decided he wanted them fed is perfectly capable of feeding them Himself. Then they ask when this retribution is going to come, if they’re telling the truth. The sonar radiation rips them and their city apart even while they are arguing about it.’
    .
    http://www.propertyhawk.co.uk/index.php?page=magazine&id=527&utm_source=MailingList&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Houses+-+Cheap+as+chips%3F

    This article clearly states the experts’ view that UK property has been kept at double its real value during the current recession by artificial financial manipulation.
    I warned many people that there would be retribution for the neo-con War on Terror state violence. Trowells (pronounced Troll) like Powell (pronounced Poll) }seem to think that they can pontificate about Africa’s problems, when our own country is literally hanging onto stability by its tippy fingertips.

  • Mary

    Havel, Czech anti-communist hero, has died RIP

    (AP) – 4 minutes ago
    PRAGUE (AP) — Vaclav Havel, the dissident playwright who wove theater into politics to peacefully bring down communism in Czechoslovakia and become a hero of the epic struggle that ended the Cold War, has died. He was 75.
    .
    His assistant Sabina Dancecova says Havel died Sunday morning at his weekend house in the northern Czech Republic.
    .
    Havel was his country’s first democratically elected president after the nonviolent “Velvet Revolution” that ended four decades of repression by a regime he ridiculed as “Absurdistan.”
    .
    As president, he oversaw the country’s bumpy transition to democracy and a free-market economy, as well its peaceful 1993 breakup into the Czech Republic and Slovakia.
    .
    Q. Do you think we could name our regime Absurdistan? Perhaps something that better represents its sinister nature?

  • Mary

    We also have the LA Times at it John.
    .
    ‘Instead, two countries with little understanding of each other collided in a long, brutal war that exacted a terrible price from both. And as America takes its leave, they separate with very different understandings of what happened between them — and what lies ahead.
    .
    The United States has seen its reputation stained by a preemptive invasion in the name of weapons of mass destruction that never materialized. As of Sunday, 4,484 U.S. service members had died in the war, and 32,200 had been wounded, according to icasualties.org. The conflict cost hundreds of billions of dollars, even as Americans descended into economic misery.
    .
    Iraq erupted into a nightmare of sectarian hatred unleashed by the fall of Hussein’s suffocating dictatorship. An estimated 104,000 to 113,000 Iraqi civilians died, according to the Iraq Body Count website, most of them killed by other Iraqis. The legacy of the bloodletting is a deeply flawed democracy that has been unable to keep Iraqis safe.’

    .
    !!!

    .

    http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/world/la-fg-iraq-last-troops-20111218,0,4773916.story
    .
    The author David Zuccino is a Pulitzer Prize winner. His name pluralized and
    Pan(c)etta’s make some nice ingredients for an Italian meal.

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