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19.05.2005 Feature Article

Abandoning Aid Dependency for Prosperity

Abandoning Aid Dependency for Prosperity
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The case of Ghana “Globalisation and competition in the global market demanded that government provided structures that were comparable with other competitors. This will enable us attract trade and investments with the objective of promoting economic growth, creating new jobs, industries and improving the quality of life of the people”. Papa Owusu Ankomah at the opening of the first regional office of the Registrar General's Department at his hometown of Sekondi, Ghana. Ghana is fast emerging as the only country in the West African sub-region on course to meet the Millennium Development goals in 2015. Ghanaians have also set themselves the year 2020 that their country should achieve middle income status. This single ambition has galvanised the whole country, from traditional rulers to politicians and the Diaspora community in their quest to be the “Tiger” of Africa. At the fore front of this march is the current Ghanaian President, John Kufuor, an Oxford educated graduate who assumed the presidency in 2000 after one of the peaceful hand over of government ever witnessed on the African continent.
President Kufuor, who is mostly seen as a transitional president is laying down a strong and articulate trade and industrial policies as part of his developmental strategies. This writer will critically examine the NPP policies and their consequences in development in a series of papers to follow. The papers will focus on the framework of strategies (Poverty reduction, HIV/AIDS, Education, Health, Foreign Investment and Foreign trade, Inflows from Nationals Abroad, Financing and credit, Public and private sectors and Agriculture). The issue of leadership will also be examined.
For Ghana to move from aid and dependence to self-generated growth, she must first and foremost reorganise her strategies in the following areas: primary education, basic health care/nutrition, efficient family planning and macroeconomic policy. In the late 1980s and 1990s Ghana achieved 5% aid fuelled economic growth under the guise of the Bretton Woods Institutions during the "Miracle years". The questions to ask are: a) Can Ghana achieves growth without aid forming part of her GDP? b) Can Ghana leap from subsistence agricultural economy to an Industrial economy by the year 2020 without assistance from the Bretton Woods Institutions?.
Development and aid are often banded together by the donor countries and Institutions and the recipients. Their use is further masked by the agenda of the donor countries, depending on what government is in place at the recipient country.
This is also underpinned by the foreign policy mandates and priorities of the donor countries. Thus in the last British parliament, Prime Minister Blair put the eradication of poverty in sub-Saharan Africa firmly at the fore of his foreign policy despite fighting the Iraq and Afghan war beside President Bush.
Development is defined as material benefit and progress for families and for nations. Development also means food security, housing, clothing, schooling, gender equality, basic health care for all and the essence of affording citizens in poor countries the opportunities to make life better for themselves and their dependents. Thus growth, jobs, income equality/distribution of income can all lead to healthy, poverty alleviation and development.
In sub-Saharan Africa, development and aid are very emotive subjects and complicated. 99% of countries in sub-Saharan Africa have been aided since they came out of colonial rule and are still being aided. The region is the most poorest on the face of this planet, plagued by diseases, most menacing being HIV/AIDS, Malaria and Tuberculosis and persistent hunger.
Up until the 1960s most developing countries in sub-Saharan Africa, Asia and Latin America were backward and their economies based solely on subsistence agriculture. Most of these countries had limited infrastructural base and underemployment, unemployment and poverty were wide spread.
Since the late 1970s and early 1980s various “Miracles” help to transform most countries in Asia and Latin America into prosperous economies leaving sub-Saharan Africa behind. Today the poorest countries in the world, defined by the Bretton Woods Institutions as those with $730 or less in annual per capita income and majority are in sub-Saharan Africa. The countries in Asia, until recently banded in the same group as Africa, such as Burma, Cambodia, Vietnam, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and others in Latin America and the Middle East are faring better. They have made tremendous improvements in their living conditions. This writer wouldn't't indulged in the geo-political issues behind their growth for now but will look at the policies behind the significant advancement of those economies in Asia and what lessons Ghana can learn from them.
Successful development requires robust governments and access to markets where they can take advantage of their comparative advantage in goods produce.
The Asian countries development strategies placed emphasis on export expansion and self sufficient in food production, thus bridging income disparities between industries and agriculture as well as between rural and urban sectors.
The emerging Leaders:
In Ghana the new class of leadership emerging broadly shares this notion. They are challenging a system which they regard as unacceptable. They are concern that capital has not been used very efficiently. They see poverty as a menace that should be eradicated at all costs.
In the NPP, reformists are pinning their hopes on Papa Owusu Ankomah, Nana Addo Dankwa Akuffo Addo and Dr Kofi Konadu Apraku. But despite their abilities, carrying out such fundamental changes in a system where about 60% of the populations are illiterate and poverty is rampant could be challenging. The New Patriotic Party, an off shot of the UP/PP tradition and known free marketers are having a field day. This is the first time that the party has been elected on two consecutive terms. The rise of the NPP has been credited to the fragmentation of the CPP tradition.
The emerging young leaders of the newly merged CPP are also beginning to embrace the idea of export led growth and are pinning their hopes on the son of the first President of Ghana, Dr Sekou Nkrumah. Although Sekou has not indicated his willingness to seek political office, the powerful youth wing of the CPP, it seems wants to draft the young and restless son of Dr Nkrumah to be their flag bearer. Once known for its organisational ability and a formidable force in Ghanaian politics, the CPP has been weakened since the formation of the National Democratic Congress.
The core leadership of the NDC are all sympathisers of the CPP, thus the only way for the CPP to gain electoral power in Ghana is to encourage a wholesale defections of its members in NDC back into the Nkrumahists' fold. Of the 9 political parties that contested the 1992 elections, apart from the NPP, the others claimed to draw their inspiration from the CPP. Section of this grouping contested the 1992 elections under the banner of the progressive alliance. Ghana has always been a two party state and so it shall remain once the NDC joins the CPP fold. What bedevils the CPP is the question of unity and leadership. In recent years the CPP tradition has never had anyone with organisational ability apart from late Imoro Egala who successfully led the party to power in 1979.
Ghana and ECOWAS:
The stability of Ghana is and to certain degree the West African sub-region is linked. During crises in Sierra Leone, Liberia, Ivory Coast, and Guinea and in the past few weeks Togo many of the nationals of these sister states poured into Ghana for refuge. Ghana did not turn any of them away because of our shared interests and common heritage. The only way that Ghana can achieve lasting peace in the region is by strengthening ECOWAS and encourages the early introduction of the West African common currency (Eco) among the member states. The eventual goal should be to merge the Eco and CFA to give all of West Africa a strong and stable currency and one big market. This will also send strong signals to thugs like ex-Liberian President Charles Taylor and like minded that peace and stability of the region is paramount and thus thuggrey would not be tolerated. As the sub-region move towards eventual loose federation, free movement of goods and services and harmonisation of financial policies will benefit all member states.
As Ghana starts to build good physical infrastructure to link her to the rest of the Ecowas member states, the demand on her merge resources from those states would increase. Although Ghana is aiming to achieve middle income statutes by 2020, her ability to achieve this growth will depend on the stability of the whole region. This fact is shared by all, including President Obasanjo of Nigeria and President Abdoulaye Wade of Senegal. These two countries together with Ghana and the Gambia are deemed the most peaceful in the region. Despite West Africa's turbulent history, it is the most integrated region in sub-Saharan Africa due its ethnic make up as the recent civil wars and movement of people across “boarders” attest to. Views expressed by the author(s) do not necessarily reflect those of GhanaHomePage.

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