The 1951 victory for Kwame Nkrumah’s Convention People’sParty resulted in some major shifts in the procurement of new infrastructure and housing. For the electorate, housing was one of the most important issues and Nkrumah’s government was quick to recognize this potency.

His plan, announced in 1952, was to build a new port city, complete with innovative and improved housing at the highest standards. Located only 18 miles from the centre of Accra, the new city of Tema would demonstrate Nkrumah’s commitment to industrial development and that Ghana was at the centre of a pan-African vision.  

Tema was part of a wider industrialization project that included a new aluminum smelting plant and hydroelectric power station on the Volta River. It was a major project involving international financial backing and set out the major ambition Nkrumah had for the nation during the advent of independence.  For such a major project, very little is known about the first team of architects and planners responsible for the execution and delivery.

The first plan for the new town was prepared by the Kumasi town engineer, Alfred Edward Savige Alcock (1902-1991). Born in the United Kingdom, but with his professional life spent working throughout the British empire, Alcock trained as a civil engineer and, after a brief period in Sri Lanka, began working as a Sanitation Engineer in Ghana in 1936. His role and interests quickly developed beyond sanitation towards housing and village design and he was appointed Town Planning Officer in 1945, a post he held until 1956.

How to Plan Your Village, by Alfred Edward Savige Alcock and Helga Richards courtesy Iain Jackson

Alcock sought to address the problem of expensive imported materials (and overland transportation) by utilizing readily available materials and skills, and he designed the planned settlement of Asawasi, near Kumasi

Plan for Asawasi, courtesy Iain Jackson