The population distribution of the region is influenced by various factors including vegetation, type of economic activity, infrastructure, cultural, political and administrative policies.
Shama-Ahanta East has the largest proportion of persons (19.2%) in the region. The district capital, Sekondi, and its twin city Takoradi, have the infrastructure and economic influence to attract migrants and retain usual residents. Juabeso-Bia (12.7%), Wassa Amenfi (12.2%) and Wassa West (12.1%) also account for a substantial proportion of the regional population.
These districts may have attracted migrants because of their rich soils suitable for agriculture (Wassa Amenfi and Juabeso-Bia) and mining (Wassa West) activities. Jomoro, with a low population share of 5.8 per cent may have lost some of its inhabitants to neighbouring Ivory Coast with which it shares a common border. It also lacks the sort of industry that attracts migrant labour, being mainly agricultural with coconut production the major agricultural activity.
The distribution of the population in the region is uneven. This is reflected in the difference between the percentage distribution of population and land area. The Shama-Ahanta East metropolitan area is highly densely populated (958.9 persons per sq. km).
With only 1.6 per cent of the total land area, it accounts for nearly 20 per cent of the region’s population. On the other hand, Juabeso-Bia, Aowin-Suaman, Mpohor-Wassa East and Wassa Amenfi are sparsely populated, with most of their localities being rural and not easily accessible. Ahanta West has the lowest share of the region’s population (4.9%) but it is quite dense (161.0 persons/sq. km).
This may be due to its small land area, most of which has been cultivated with rubber and oil palm plantations. It is the smallest district in terms of both population and land area, but with a number of peri-urban towns such as Apowa, Agona Nkwanta and Dixcove, hence the high population density.
Aowin-Suaman, the most sparsely settled district, with a density of 38.5 persons per square kilometre, together with Wassa Amenfi and Juabeso-Bia, account for more than half (51.5%) of the total land area of the region, but only about 31 per cent of the population.
In most of the districts (8 out 11), there are more males than females. The three districts with higher proportions of females are Shama-Ahanta East (50.5%), Bibiani-Anhwiaso-Bekwai (50.9%) and Ahanta West (51.6%). Shama-Ahanta East and Ahanta West are two districts where trading, which is undertaken mainly by women, is very intense.
The Shama-Ahanta-East Metropolitan Area, which hosts the capital of the region, is wholly urban. The fairly large urban population in Wassa West (35.6%) and Bibiani-Anhwiaso-Bekwai (37.5%) may be due to the high influx of migrants in response to the old and newly established gold mines around these areas.
Tarkwa, Prestea, Bogoso and Aboso, with active large mining operations as well as factories and a University College at Tarkwa, account for the urbanized nature of the Wassa West District. Juabeso-Bia, with an urban population of 7.1 per cent has only three towns namely Essam, Oseikojokrom and Bodi with populations of more than 5,000. Juabeso, in spite of being the district capital, is largely rural and has not grown appreciably in size for the past 20 years. In 1970 it had a population of 1,132, which increased to 1,199 in 1984 and further to 3,639 in year 2000. The other districts are also quite rural and much of their population are scattered in farm settlements
It is observed that with a few exceptions in age 0 to 4, all the districts depict the same pattern of reducing population as age increases, which indicates the effect of mortality. Shama-Ahanta East has the lowest significant proportion (37.8%) for the young dependent age group (0-14 years), compared with the other districts with figures ranging from 42 to 44 per cent. The high proportion of children in this age group would put much burden on district assemblies in the area of providing educational facilities and other social amenities needed by children in their development to adulthood.
On the other hand, Shama-Ahanta East has the largest proportion (57.6%) in the working age group of 15-64 years in the region. Wassa West (54.6%) and Jomoro (53.4%) also have a substantial proportion of this population category.
These fairly large proportions could be due to the effect of migration of young adults to the commercial and mining towns in these districts. The rest of the districts, with more than half of their population in the working age group have proportions lower than the regional average of 53.1 per cent. The low proportion of the aged population ranges from 2.8 per cent in Aowin-Suaman to 6.0 per cent in Mpohor- Wassa East.
The population distribution of all the districts for both males and females follows a similar pattern. The base population for both sexes is large, and with a very high growth rate (3.2%) for the region, this would lead to rapid population increase. Generally, for all districts, as age increases, the population for both sexes decreases. Under the broad age groups of children, (0-14), working force (15-64) and the aged (65+), each district shows a different characteristic.
Districts around the southwestern part of the region, (Jomoro, Nzema East, Ahanta West) as well as Bibiani-Anhwiaso-Bekwai have fewer female children than males. As age increases, however, to the working age group, this pattern changes and there are more females than males.
The main economic activity in each district may help to explain sex differences in proportion for the working age group. For instance, in Wassa West the significantly large proportion of males may be the result of the mining activity in that area. Similarly, Aowin-Suaman, Juabeso-Bia and Sefwi-Wiawso have a higher proportion of males due to the intensive cocoa farming.
Dependency Ratio And Other Age Characteristics
The dependency ratio (the ratio of persons under 15 years of age plus persons aged 65 and older to adults aged 15-64 years) for all the districts is very high, although some districts (Jomoro, Wassa West and Bibiani-Anhwiaso-Bekwai) show lower ratios than the regional average of 88.3.
This should be of concern to the districts, since every adult person in the productive age group has to support at least one dependant. Considering the fact that a large proportion of persons aged 15-64 is either unemployed or not economically active (i.e., homemakers, students, the disabled, etc), the actual burden on the employed in the districts would also be more serious, leading to a low standard of living.
The total fertility rate is lower than the national rate of 4.0 in two districts, Shama-Ahanta East (3.1) and Wassa West (3.8). Of the remaining nine, it is higher than the regional rate of 4.4 in six districts. The highest total fertility rate is in Mpohor-Wassa East (7.1), almost 3 more children per woman than the regional rate. The region’s population growth rate is 3.2, higher than the national average of 2.7.
The high fertility and population growth rates, coupled with the young age structure (high proportion of population less than 15 years) of the region, implies a rapidly-growing population, which is estimated to double in 22 years.
It is known also that lower fertility rates make money and other economic benefits more available to families and the community as a whole, and ensures better maternal and child health, as a result of proper spacing of births. Fertility rates therefore need to be reduced through deliberate policy interventions.
Birthplace And Migratory Patterns
People constantly move from one place to another for varied reasons. Such movements, either internally (within the country) or internationally (outside the country), may be influenced by social, economic, political and situational factors.
The migratory movement of people in the region is basically internal. Although there has been a considerable level of migration in the region, the majority of the enumerated population of all districts are indigenes or non-migrants.
It must be emphasised, however, that the mere fact that a person was enumerated at his or her place of birth does not necessarily imply that he/she had never migrated. People may move from their place of birth to work in another region or district for a long period of time and then retire back home, or may have found themselves at home on census night. Place of birth and place of enumeration are therefore crude methods of estimating the extent of in or out-migration.
The apparent immobility of the inhabitants in the districts may be due to the predominance of agriculture, the extended family system and lack of education among others. Most of the migrants in the region either moved from other regions (28.3%) or were born in another locality (10.0%) in the region.
The Central Region accounts for most persons in the southern districts born outside the region, while persons born outside the region but resident in the northern districts are mostly from Ashanti and Brong Ahafo. This is reflected in the predominance of the Fante language in the southern districts and the Twi language in the northern districts. Those born outside Ghana make up only a small proportion of about 1.0 per cent.
The in-migrants to the region are mostly from the Central (7.2%) and Ashanti (5.1%) Regions. As has already been mentioned, one feature of this movement is that migrants from the Central Region are found mostly in the southern part of the region, notably in the coastal towns of Shama, Sekondi-Takoradi, Axim and Half Assini.
Those from Ashanti, found mainly in the northern part of the forest areas of the region, are cocoa and other cash crop farmers. The migrants into Mpohor-Wassa East (14.6%), Shama-Ahanta East (11.9%) and Wassa West (10.5%) are from the Central Region, partly because of the region’s proximity to these three districts, and partly because of better job opportunities. Similarly, migrants into Sefwi-Wiawso (7.9%) and Wassa Amenfi (7.8%) are mainly from Ashanti, while 13.8 per cent of the population of Juabeso-Bia are migrants from Brong Ahafo, with which the district shares a common boundary.
Shama-Ahanta East, Nzema East, Ahanta West and Jomoro also have about 1.0 per cent each of the population being migrants from other ECOWAS States, notably Cote d’Ivoire. Nzema East, Jomoro and Ahanta West share similar ethnic connections with the people of southern Ivory Coast, while those in Shama-Ahanta East may have migrated for economic or political reasons. Surprisingly Mpohor-Wassa East has the highest proportion of migrants from outside Africa (0.4%). These may be foreign nationals from outside Africa prospecting for gold, or working in agro-industrial projects in the district.
The general pattern of developing economies, where non-migrants outnumber migrants is observed for both sexes in all the districts. It must however be noted that the mere fact that people are enumerated in their place of birth does not necessarily imply that they have never migrated. They may have migrated to work in other places and retired back to their birthplace, or may have been visiting their birthplace on census night. The place of enumeration is therefore only a crude indication of the migration pattern.
The region is endowed with considerable natural resources, which give it a significant economic importance within the context of national development. It is the largest producer of cocoa, rubber and coconut, and one of the major producers of oil palm. The rich tropical forest makes it one of the largest producers of raw and sawn timber as well as processed wood products. A wide variety of minerals, including gold, bauxite, iron, diamonds and manganese are either being exploited or are potentially exploitable. The region’s total geological profile and mineral potential are yet to be fully determined.
The four major occupations in the region are agriculture including fishing, animal husbandry and hunting (58.1%), production and transport work (14.5%), sales work (10.2%) and professional and technical work (5.4%). The major industrial activities in the region are agriculture, excluding fishing but including forestry and hunting (58.1%), mining and quarrying (2.4%), manufacturing (10.2%) and wholesale and retail trade (10.3%). The working population in the private formal (13.5%) and the public (6.0%) sectors are mainly employees of private and public sector employers.
They constitute 17.0 per cent of the economically active population. Of those within the legally permissible working age group (15 years and older), self-employed persons (72.9%) make up the majority of the economically active; 68.3 per cent have no employees working for them while 4.6 per cent have employees.
Demographic Characteristic Of Districts
There are significant differences in the population densities of the various districts. The most densely populated district is Shama-Ahanta East (958.9 per sq km). It also has the largest share (19.2%) of the region’s total population of 1,924,577. Juabeso-Bia (12.7%), Wassa Amenfi (12.2%) and Wassa West (12.1%) also account for substantial proportions of the region’s population, but they are sparsely populated.
The regional capital, Sekondi, as well as the harbour and industrial city of Takoradi, constitute the twin city of Sekondi-Takoradi, and are located in the Shama-Ahanta East metropolis. Aside of the metropolis, districts with fairly large urban populations are Wassa West (35.6%) and Bibiani-Anhwiaso-Bekwai (37.5%).
These two districts have major mining and manufacturing industries such as wood-processing and metalwork foundries, which require both intensive labour and technical personnel. The rest of the districts are predominantly rural. The road network of the region is relatively poor, making many of the rural districts rather inaccessible, especially during the rainy season when many of the areas including some important cocoa growing areas are inaccessible to vehicular traffic.
In 8 out of the 11 districts, there is a higher proportion of males than females. The three districts with higher proportions of females, Shama-Ahanta East (50.5%), Bibiani-Anhwiaso- Bekwai (50.9%) and Ahanta West (51.6%), also have high proportions of persons engaged in wholesale and retail trade, which is a major preserve of females all over the country. The age-structure of all the districts depicts the same pattern of a high proportion of persons between ages 0-10, reducing as age increases.
The migration pattern is basically internal. Inter-regional migration is relatively low. Female non-migrants out-number their male counterparts in all the districts except Ahanta West and Bibiani-Anhwiaso-Bekwai. The region, however, attracts many male migrants, mainly to the cocoa-growing and mining areas.