Changing Role of Traditional Authorities in Local Governance and Development in Ghana

Kwaku ABREFA BUSIA, Prince Osei-Wusu ADJEI

Research output: Book Chapters | Papers in Conference ProceedingsBook ChapterResearchpeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


This chapter highlights the changing roles of traditional authorities (also called chiefs) in Ghana from the precolonial to the post-colonial period. It discusses the hybrid local governance system where the chieftaincy institutions currently co-exists with local government institutions in accordance with Ghana's 1992 Constitution and the Local Government Act of 1993 (Act 462). The chapter demonstrates that, despite the weakening of the functions of traditional leaders since the colonial period, they have adapted to the modern times through their neo-traditional roles as development brokers, electoral brokers and key stakeholders in land acquisition processes. In doing so, traditional authorities build on their legitimacy and grassroots support in the communities to partner the government and other international bodies in local development initiatives such as provision of education and health facilities. Again, some traditional authorities also partner with private entities to champion various infrastructural development in their polities, including housing. That said, chiefs have also been noted as 'gatekeepers' of local development and tend to stifle development efforts due to a number of reasons; delay land acquisition for development projects, mismanage and appropriate community resources for their own benefits at the at the expense of their people, lack of accountable governance and transparency concerns. In addition to their customary roles, we examine the positive and negative outcomes of chiefs' neotraditional roles in Ghanaian society and provide recommendations critical for local governance and sustainable local development in the 'millennium turn'.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationDemocratic Decentralization, Local Governance and Sustainable Development : Ghana's Experiences for Policy and Practice in Developing Countries
EditorsPrince Osei-Wusu ADJEI, Samuel ADU-GYAMFI
PublisherSpringer, Cham
Number of pages17
ISBN (Electronic)9783031123788
ISBN (Print)9783031123771
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2022

Publication series

NameAdvances in African Economic, Social and Political Development
ISSN (Print)2198-7262
ISSN (Electronic)2198-7270

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022, The Author(s), under exclusive license to Springer Nature Switzerland AG.


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