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State of Surveying in Ghana

Ghana Surveying Background

Surveyors in Ghana possess property-related degrees (or diplomas) in land economy, building technology, estate management and real estate finance. They are members of the Ghana Institution of Surveyors (GhIS), which was established on 28th February 1969. It has three groups of surveyors, namely quantity surveyors (QS), land surveyors (LS) and estates and valuation services surveyors (EVS). Surveyors could be fellows, full members (also called professional associates) or technician members depending on, inter alia, education, experience and service to GhIS.

The GhIS has a total membership of 631 surveyors working in 126 registered firms for EVS (56), QS (58) and LS (17) services. The estates and valuation services surveyors are in the majority, perhaps because they have the widest scope of activities depicted in their more popular name, ‘general practice surveyors’. Of the total EVS membership of 272, 146 are professional members, 54 are fellows and 72 are technician surveyors. There are 221 quantity surveyors, of which, 35 are fellows, 135 are professional associates and 51 are technical quantity surveyors. The land surveyors are in the minority with 148 members, with 17 fellows, 64 members and 37 technicians (GhIS 2009).

The Role of GhIS

The role of the GhIS as stated on its official website is inter alia ‘to secure the advancement and facilitate the acquisition of that knowledge which constitutes the profession of a Surveyor’ and ‘to secure the well-being and advancement of the profession of surveying and its members’ (GhIS 2008).

It is important to evaluate these claims. The existing studies in Ghana are inadequate for this purpose. Our recent study in which we surveyed the literature on housing, land and property studies, showed that housing-related studies in Ghana centre on land management practices, the problems in the land market, customary land law, insecurity of tenure and the underdeveloped secondary mortgage market in Ghana. Other studies examine the development of gated communities, the role of remittances, housing policy and affordable housing. Even among unionists, a study of the work conditions of surveyors in Ghana does not exist, and the Construction and Building Workers’ Union, affiliated to the Ghana Trade Union Congress (GTUC), does not focus the activities of surveyors, rather artisans and construction workers (Biritwum and Martens, 2008).

The closest studies to verify the claims by GhIS were those arising from our work which examined the probation period for surveyors. These studies revealed poor labour practices, unfulfilled expectations, and exploitation of those being trained to become surveyors through the GhIS. We now seek to extend this research to assess the conditions under which surveyors work and how professionally they perform surveying services in Ghana.

Objectives of the Study

This research has two aims: first, to assess the general level of professionalism among estate and valuation surveyors in Ghana and second, to make an informed prediction of the future of the surveying profession.

Significance and Innovation

This is the first study of the state of professionalism and work conditions of surveyors in Ghana. The study is useful for the surveying profession because it would shed light on the conditions under which surveyors work and how professional they are, which would provide a basis for reforming the sector. Second, it gives the opportunity for prospective surveyors (student surveyors) to reflect on their experiences as they would take part in the study (see methodology). Third, the surveying workers themselves stand to gain as the findings of the study could contribute to a process of ‘conscientisation’ in which they would not be passive recipients but active workers with a deeper understanding of the social reality which shapes their lives and of their capacity to shape that reality (Gran, 1983). The study would therefore contribute to improved living standards through decent work and greater professionalism.

Nationally, an improvement the delivery of surveying related services would provide clients with the knowledge and advice on how to avoid the many housing related problems in Ghana. Again, the GTUC may find the piece useful and may potentially help to create some desire among surveyors to unionise and congregate under the umbrella of GTUC, which would ultimately help in greater satisfaction in their professional work. Overall, the study is of use to the surveying profession, workers and the people of Ghana, and by extension, useful to RICS which works closely with GhIS.


Franklin Obeng-Odoom

University of Sydney, Australia.

Stephen Ameyaw

University of Development Studies, Ghana.

This Article was originally posted on Urban Development Blog which is no longer available

Obeng-Odoom F, ‘Real estate agency in Ghana: a suitable case for regulation?’, Regional Studies (in press).

A study of the resumes of the leading researchers here, like Kasim Kasanga, Richard Grant, Graham Tipple, Konadu Agyemang, Felix Hammond, Adarkwa Antwi, Kwesi Yankson and Raymond Talinbe, confirms the themes around which their studies have been.

Biritwum A and Martens P, 2008, ‘The challenge of globalization, labor market restructuring and union democracy in Ghana’, African Studies Quarterly, vol. 10, nos. 2-3.

Obeng-Odoom F ‘The political economy of becoming a surveyor in Ghana’, Housing Policy Debate (under review) and Obeng-Odoom F, Making professionals out of surveying graduates through the Ghana Institution of Surveyors (GhIS)- A critical assessment, Survey Review (under review).

Gran G, 1983, Development by people. Citizen construction of a just world, Praeger, New York.

Tit-Bits On Ghana

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