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Manchester Urban Institute

Dr Tom Gillespie secures a British Academy / Leverhulme Research Grant

4 April 2017

Tom Gillespie from SEED and MUI has secured funding for his pilot study on the increasingly globalized housing markets in Accra.

A key challenge for policymakers and civil society concerns access to affordable shelter for Africa’s growing urban population. Across this rapidly urbanizing continent, access to housing for low-income groups is increasingly compromised by processes of urban change that result in city dwellers being displaced and excluded to the advantage of higher income groups. In the context of growing global investment in African real estate, there is a need to pay attention to the role of transnational dynamics in these processes of change.

This project will explore how transnational flows of finance and people are shaping urban transformations in Accra, the capital of Ghana. Housing markets in Accra are becoming increasingly globalized, with foreign investment fuelling a luxury real estate boom and new residential developments increasingly marketed in North America and Western Europe to emigrant Ghanaians and others. This project will explore the impact of these transnational dynamics on local housing affordability and land use in Accra. In the process, it will seek to understand to what extent gentrification theory, traditionally associated with cities in the global North, can be useful for understanding contemporary processes of change in an African city.

This award will fund fieldwork in the summer of 2017. In addition to primary fieldwork in Accra, secondary fieldwork will be conducted in London  – a key site for the transnational marketing of Ghanaian real estate. This research is a pilot study for a larger multi-city comparative project that will explore the impact of flows of finance and people from the global North and South on African urban transformations, with particular attention paid to the growing importance of Chinese and Middle Eastern investment.

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