Economic growth is not everything. But it is the foundation of everything.
It is the glue that holds societies together.
For Ghana, the search for growth has been long, difficult and elusive.
The first three decades after Independence were traumatic: growth was low. It also fluctuated.
The last two decades have been more reassuring: growth has averaged about 5%. Consequently, the poverty rate has steadily fallen from 52% in 1991 to 28% in 2006.
Should Ghana be complacent about the recent surge in growth and the resulting reduction in poverty? The obvious answer is absolutely not.
To its credit, the Government has set a target of attaining middle income status by 2015, which would require growth to rise to 7-8% a year.
But, as we all know, other countries with economic characteristics similar to ours at Independence, such as Malaysia, Mauritius, Singapore and South Korea, have grown to become middle or high income countries. For example, in 2005, South Korea's per capita income was $15840, Mauritius' was $5250 and Ghana's was ….. $500.
In addition, Ghana's economy remains highly vulnerable to external shocks. This has been demonstrated most recently by the food and fuel price rises of 2008. The Ghanaian economy will be further tested as the global recession deepens.
In this talk, I shall address three questions:
1. What can we learn from the experience of the growth 'giants'?
2. What are the key elements of a growth strategy for Ghana?
3. What political economy challenges will need to be overcome if Ghana is to adopt such a growth strategy?
My key message is:
Ghana can design a 'natural resources plus' growth strategy, based on our specific advantages and drawing on lessons from the 'giants' of growth. The biggest challenge is that of leadership, which can make or break Ghana's growth dream.
I. Learning from the 'Giants'
What can we learn from the experience of the 'giants' of growth? We draw from two related studies.
The first, titled Economic Growth in the 1990s: Learning from a Decade of Reform (2005), which I had the privilege of directing in 2003-4 while still at the World Bank, asked the following question:
what explained the growth experiences of the 90s? and why was it that countries like China, India and Malaysia
, that excelled in the 90s, seemed to have followed very different approaches?
The second study, a follow up to the Lessons of the 90s study, was The Growth Report: Strategies for Sustained Growth and Inclusive Development (2008). It asked a more fundamental question: what can we learn from the experience of successful growers, which it defined as countries that had grown at a rate of 7% or more, for periods of 25 years or more. Thirteen countries met these criteria, nine from East Asia and the others from different regions. I will refer to them as the 'giants' of growth. They are: Botswana, Brazil, China, Hong Kong/China, Indonesia, Japan, S. Korea, Malaysia, Malta, Oman, Singapore, Taiwan (China), and Thailand. This report was done under the auspices of the Commission for Growth and Development and led by Michael Spence, a Nobel Laureate in Economics. The Commission included one other academic, Robert Solow, the godfather of growth theory. It brought together 19 development practitioners from around the developing world. From the Continent, the Commission included Trevor Manuel from South Africa, and Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, then the Nigerian Finance Minister. They were supported by some of the best and the brightest among development economists from both the developed and the developing world.
The two reports, jointly, offer four overall lessons:
(a) first, no one size fits all: each country developed an approach that capitalized on its strengths—social, political and economic. They attacked problems sequentially, and not all at once. The thrust of this lesson is best captured by quoting Rodrik at some length:
'The Spence report represents a watershed for development policy—as much for what it says as for what it leaves out. Gone are the confident assertions about the virtues of liberalization, deregulation, privatization and free markets. Also gone are the cookie cutter policy recommendations unaffected by contextual differences. Instead, the Spence report adopts an approach that recognizes the limits of what we know, emphasizes pragmatism and gradualism, and encourages governments to be experimental….If there is a new Washington Consensus, it is that the rulebook must be written at home, not in Washington.'
(b) second, each country exhibited some common elements:
openness to the global system;
high savings and investments; and a
judicious use of a discretionary role for the state, with a strong reliance on markets.
This is noteworthy since it implies some self-imposed constraints that each successful country followed.
(c) third, their experiences also signaled some clear no-nos that countries need to avoid. From this list of no-nos, the following are particularly relevant for Ghana:
(i) It is a bad idea to subsidize energy except for very limited subsidies targeted at highly vulnerable groups in the population;
(ii) It is also a bad idea to deal with joblessness by relying on the civil service as an employer of last resort. This is different from public works programs as a social safety net.
(iii) Cutting Infrastructural Investments in order to reduce fiscal deficits
is another bad idea.
(iv)Similarly, providing open-ended protection of specific sectors or firms, and jobs from competition fails the test. Support, if any, should be for a limited period, with clear benchmarks for exiting;
Other ideas that fail the test are:
(v) measuring educational progress solely by the construction of school infrastructure or enrolments, instead of by quality of learning;
(vi): underpaying civil servants or teachers relative to what the market would pay them for comparable skills, and combining this with seniority rather than performance based rewards; and
(vii): allowing the exchange rate to appreciate excessively before the economy is ready for the transition to higher productivity industry.
(d) each country had visionary leadership that was doggedly focused on growth. Leadership constantly adapted to challenges and opportunities. It was pragmatic and experimented with new approaches. It scaled up successes and promptly dropped failures. And in general, it strategically molded its economic and political institutions along the way. As one practitioner put it: 'the leaders were all hungry for growth!'
II. What are the key Elements of a Growth Strategy for Ghana ?
The Growth Report challenges us to develop a growth strategy for Ghana that has Ghana-specific advantages at its foundation, and that sequences priorities carefully over time, combining these with a cautious pragmatism.
I would like to propose that Ghana should adopt a growth strategy with four elements: agriculture; mining & oil;
education; and on the basis of these make the transition to a manufacturing and services driven economy.
This strategy, which I would call a Natural Resources Plus strategy, and the emphasis on pragmatism and experimentation, are the main lessons for Ghana from the Growth Study .
Let us deal with each of the four elements in turn.
(A) Agriculture: Agricultural growth in the last 6 years has been at a historical high: it has grown at 5.2% pa. This is no reason for complacency though. A deeper analysis of recent growth suggests that it has been driven more by extending the land frontier and by favorable global market developments, than by growth in agricultural productivity. Thus it will not be sustained. This becomes clear in a comparison of Ghanaian crop yields in maize, cassava, cocoa, etc with achieved yields in other countries. We also know from international experience that agricultural productivity growth is an essential early phase of development in many low income countries, as China's experience shows most vividly. In its first decade of spectacular growth, between 1980 and 1990, China's growth was almost entirely driven by agricultural productivity growth, turning to manufactures in the 1990s.
Ghana thus faces a major challenge and opportunity in agriculture. A recent IFPRI study shows that, were Ghana to attain 6% growth in agriculture between now and 2015, as the Government's program aims to do, this would increase GDP growth by an additional 1% a year. It would lift about an additional million persons out of poverty. It would reduce the rural poverty further, and would make a real dent in the poverty of the rural savannah, including the North. This would be an outstanding contribution!
What policies would be needed to attain this level, and sustain it beyond 2015?
The policy agenda for increasing agricultural productivity in Ghana
needs to be comprehensive while dealing with key constraints in sequence. I have argued elsewhere in favor of a 10-point action plan for agriculture. For brevity, I will deal with three of the key issues here: land, rural infrastructure, and R &D. In each of these areas, Ghana will need to explore new approaches with pragmatism and cautious experimentation.
The issue of access to land has been identified in Ghana's investment climate survey as the second most critical constraint to investments, following energy supply. The lack of security of land tenure has been analyzed as possibly costing Ghana up to 2% of GDP, in an interesting paper by Udry of Yale and ISSER. Udry demonstrated that many farmers who were unsure of the security of their land tenure under customary law in Akwapim chose not to leave their land fallow for many years. In comparison, those who were closer to political authority had no hesitation to leave their land fallow. The difference in productivity between the two categories of land is a major cost to the economy. The Government's Land Policy and Land Administration project are attempting to deal with some of these issues, but at a slow pace. This may be an area for some bold experimentation in selected areas. Setting up Land Banks, suggested by many including ISSER and being tried in Tanzania, may be one such experiment. The outgrower system, fast developing all over Africa, may need some policy support to become institutionalized. The Chinese developed many policies by such small scale experimentation in different parts of their country. Land will need primary policy focus in any attempt to increase agricultural productivity.
Rural Infrastructure: The development debate has finally come around once more to recognizing that development expenditures must include a strong emphasis on infrastructure, and not only on health and education. Indeed, the Growth Report reinforces this point by noting that the ' giants', on average, invested 7% of GDP in infrastructure, while other countries invested 2%. Fully a quarter of Ghana's investments would need to go into infrastructure under this guideline!
Yet, there has been a failure to recognize that the share of rural infrastructure, not just infrastructure, needs to rise. Rural investments in irrigation, in rural roads and in rural energy have been central to all successful stories of high agricultural productivity growth, the latest being Vietnam. Historical successes like India's Green Revolution of the 1960s reinforce the same point. The evidence is strong: Vietnamese experience suggests that living in a rural community with roads increased the probability of escaping poverty by about 70% compared to one without roads. Only 4% of land is irrigated in Africa, compared to about 40% in South Asia. The implied rebalancing of the infrastructure budget in favor of rural areas will be politically difficult, given the urban bias in such expenditures. The debate over rural infrastructure has not really begun.
R & D: Agricultural productivity growth is essentially driven by the adoption of new technology tailored to local condtions. R & D in SSA has grown by only about 20% in the last 20 years, while it has tripled in India and China. Brazil, with its research organization EMBRAPA, has grown to become a world class producer and exporter of soybeans, oranges, sugarcane-based ethanol and poultry. Ghana and other African countries have had national and regional R & D organizations for decades. But they are poorly staffed, resourced and managed. Yield gaps have not only been large, but have been increasing. Agricultural productivity growth will require a revamp of the R & D system in Ghana, with experimentation such as with Genetically Modified crops playing a key role, as they now do in Latin America and Asia.
(B) Mining and Oil: Ghana is richly endowed with not just agricultural, but also mineral resources, and the recently confirmed oil find. Natural resources can be a blessing if aggressively combined with education and knowledge. But they have to be managed well. Recent policy debates in Ghana, drawing from the experience of Norway, have highlighted this challenge. The oil find is a more extreme form of mineral wealth, with concentrated gains. Both are exhaustible, have volatile prices, and generate super-profits or rents. These three characteristics—exhaustibility, volatility and rents—have strong policy implications.
First, exhaustibility has two policy implications: first, there is a need to manage the exchange rate such that it does not appreciate so fast that it makes all non-oil exports unprofitable. Nigeria failed to do this and saw its agricultural sector dwindle, whilst Indonesia was adept at avoiding the 'dutch disease' and saw its agriculture grow and contribute to poverty reduction.
As the Growth Report suggests, despite advice that a floating exchange rate is best, there are circumstances in which for temporary periods, countries may cautiously and with an exit strategy, avoid excessive appreciation. East Asian countries have consistently applied such a policy to enter export markets until they became fully established global players in some products.
The second implication of exhaustibility is the need to invest the resource rents into high return investments in line with a medium term growth strategy. Using strictly economic criteria, and avoiding low return political projects and white elephants, is essential. The best record on this score is that of Chile, whose very professional Public Investment office has shown the way. Full information on all projects is available to the public, and the very few exceptions that are made can only be made by transparent Presidential decisions.
Volatility: Second, volatility of prices—and we have seen oil prices rise to $147 and fall to $60 this year—need to be managed in order to not disrupt the domestic economy unduly. The solution to this, as eminently demonstrated once again by Chile's experience with its Copper Stabilization Fund, is to establish a fund into which earnings above a trend price are saved and invested; drawing down from this fund when prices fall below this trend. Chile has used an independent commission to establish the price trend on a non-political basis.
Today, many oil exporting countries, such as Nigeria, Kuwait etc. are able to adjust to the new low oil prices because their budgets were drawn on the assumption of much lower oil prices, and the only difference the current lower price makes is to reduce the flow into their Stabilization Funds. Countries like Iran and Venezuela, in contrast, did not follow this path, and are now having to drastically cut public expenditures. Ghana's own experience with the impact of volatile cocoa prices on public expenditures over the last few decades has not been a happy one either.
Rents: And third, the rent element requires (a) a very carefully established tax system for the mining and oil industries, and ( b) transparency of all mining or oil revenues and their uses.
It is often the case that in the early stages of resource exploitation, countries offer very generous terms in order to attract investors into what is seen as a high risk venture. Such first generation terms make eminent sense for both parties. But it is also important that both host countries and investors build in scope for increasing the share of country revenues as risks decline over time. Allowing for second generation terms, or for programmed periodic renegotiation, is a wise approach that few have used. Zambia has recently sought to renegotiate its contracts, while Tanzania has hinted at the need to do so. It is better to have this as part of the understanding early on, so as not to give an impression of anti-investor sentiment. Better still, the initial agreements could include criteria for predictable increases in the share of revenues going to countries as these ventures become more profitable over time, or as price volatility affects their profitablility. A highly recommended method of taxing exhaustible resources, proposed by Australian Ross Garnaut but not sufficiently used, is 'resource rent taxation,' which seeks to tax resource rents using progressively higher rates as profits rise.
Ghana's mining industry is seen as having a tax regime that is still largely couched in the first generation models that were put in place in the 1980s. In contrast, the model oil contract appears to have in place many of the progressive taxation safeguards that second generation contracts would suggest. It will be important to use existing clauses to help undertake a review of the first generation mining contracts in line with agreed procedures, in an investor friendly way, and seek to ensure that Ghana's mining revenues are in line with second generation contracts internationally.
The existence of rents also requires transparency as a measure against the risks of rent-seeking behavior. By generating large volumes of temporary resources, mining and oil typically give rise to a rent-seeking class. Through patron client relations with governments or public officials, this could give rise to inappropriate investments, excessive consumption and sometimes also to corruption of the highest order. The only long term solution to problems of corruption is stronger democratic and civil society institutions that function in practice as expected on paper. However, transparency ie information to the public, on all revenues paid to Governments, on the
transfers to different levels of government, and on the rates of return used to justify specific investments, can all go a long way to helping create the conditions for better governance of resource rents.
(C) Education: Resource-based development strategies have always raised concerns about their capital-intensity and their limited spillovers. The experience of successful resource-based countries has one unmistakable common factor: investments in education and in human capital more generally. Ghana can convert its resource base into a blessing by investing - big time—in raising the quantity and quality of education, borrowing a relevant chapter from the East Asian book. In this, Ghana does have a starting advantage over many other African countries, in having had a strong pro-education bias from the post Independence period. Despite some loss of momentum in the 70s and 80s, the 90s saw the beginning of a new educational revival in Ghana. Recent progress in primary enrolment has been impressive, reinforced by the School Feeding program. Access to universities, both public and private, is on the rise, although with challenges on the availability of corresponding resources to meet students' needs.
This gradual revival is a good sign. But it still pales in comparison with what is to be done if Ghana is to implement a successful Natural Resource Plus strategy. How does Ghana compare with other countries on the quality of education? What is the scale of our problem? How might this be approached?
There is limited information on the quality of education across countries. We use recent data on test scores of students around the world based on the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study ( TIMSS 2003). The students tested were 13 year olds and at the US-8th grade equivalent. In 2003, some 46 countries voluntarily participated in TIMSS, including Ghana for the first time. The results were very instructive for Ghana. The average score in mathematics for Ghana was somewhat below 300, compared to an African average ( incl Egypt, Morocco and Tunisia in North Africa) of 350, and a world average of slightly over 450. Among the three SSA countries which participated, Botswana ranked highest, followed by Ghana and then by South Africa. The scores for science were similar. In contrast, the scores for Malaysia and South Korea were above the world average in both areas. This result, one of the few international comparisons of quality available, suggests that quality has to be a strong focus in education, if Ghana is to compete internationally.
On the second point, to get an idea of the scale of Ghana's educational challenge, it is striking to note that only 9% of Ghanaian students in the relevant age group attend senior secondary school. A recent analysis of the challenges facing Chile in competing with East Asia, done for the Growth Commission is also instructive. Chile had averaged 6% growth in the 1990s. Recent growth has declined to a level of 3-4%. In the TIMSS scores, Chile scores just slightly above Botswana, and below the North African and East Asian countries. Chile, then, appears to have slackened its efforts on the quality of education, and is in danger of losing its stellar economic performance unless it invests heavily in education quality. As Kharas et al write: 'Chile could well have space to increase its growth potential by 2 % of GDP per year. To do so, it would need to pay more attention to new sources of growth in natural resources, manufacturing and services….To overcome (its obstacles), deep institutional changes are needed to develop…..stronger and more equitable educational achievement.'
Ghana's quest to improve the quantity and quality of education in the coming years needs a comprehensive strategy, again with an initial focus on key priorities. I would make one suggestion here: the oil wealth's biggest contribution to Ghana should be to help finance the prioritized needs of the educational sector, and the test of money well spent should be international test scores of the above kind, and not just expenditure levels. Nigeria spent a large share of its early oil wealth setting up universities in every state. Neither quality nor sustainability were assured.
(D) The Transition to Manufacturing and Services
: The biggest fear surrounding a Natural Resource plus strategy is whether it will run out of steam and never make the transition to a manufacturing and service based economy, in which productivity growth is fueled by knowledge and innovation. Chile is currently struggling with this transition, and has to catch up to the giants in its educational and innovation systems. Yet, we have seen historically that countries like the US, Canada, Australia, Sweden and Finland were able to do so. Is there an example of success in this transition that Ghana can identify with more readily? Perhaps the most relevant example of success for Ghana from among the growth giants is Malaysia.
Malaysia (Yusof and Bhattasali, 2008) is an upper middle income country which has grown over the 1971-90 period at 6.7%. It has reduced absolute poverty from about 50% in 1970 to 5% in 2004. In the 1960s, the main development challenge had to do with the dependence of the economy on natural rubber and on tin.
Diversification was the fundamental strategic policy goal. It had two components: in agriculture, from rubber to palm oil, and overall from agriculture to manufactures.
But modernization of the rubber industry was not neglected: R&D was channeled into rubber production and productivity growth in rubber was high. The role of the Rubber Research Institute of Malaysia was crucial. Palm oil production also grew taking up 20 % of all new acreage initially, rising to 80% over time.
Export-oriented manufacturing gained momentum from the early 1970s. Malaysia developed a comparative advantage first in resource-based manufacturing, and then later added labor-intensive manufactures. Thus, exports of resource-based manufactures grew between 1996 and 2005 at 12% pa, whilst non-resource based manufactures grew at 11%.
Resource based exports included: rubber products, wood products, food and beverages, petroleum products, chemical products, and pulp and paper products..
What is striking is how important a role was played by rubber and palm oil products, Rubber products include latex products, industrial and general rubber products, tyres and related products, gloves, catheters and rubber bands. Malaysia now accounts for 80 percent of the world's exports of catheters, 70 percent of latex thread and 60% of rubber gloves. In palm oil, technological developments have increased production and the range of products from soap to margarine and cooking fats. Currently, Malaysia is the world's largest producer and exporter of palm oil, producing palm oil products, oleochemicals ( for the preparation of soap, cosmetics, printing ink, etc.) , biodiesels and biomass products ( including 'green plywood' from oil palm trunks, food containers, and palm biomass for energy generation).
Non- resource based products included: electronic products, machinery, textiles, plastics, jewelery, optical and scientific equipment etc. As in other East Asian countries, Malaysia was also successful in attracting direct foreign investments into the electronics inputs industry, and became a major exporter of electronic components, industrial electronics and consumer electronics.
It is also worth noting that Malaysia attempted to produce a national car - the Proton—at great cost, and ended up abandoning the venture: there was experimentation, and tough decisions to drop initiatives that did not work.
Thus we can draw three conclusions from the Malaysian experience:
(a)it provides a useful example of how an economy relatively rich in natural resources can transform itself into a more industrialized economy over about 20 years;
(b) the failed attempt to promote heavy industries including autos underscore the difficulties of attempting to move into areas where an economy has no strong comparative advantage, with continuing protection becoming necessary because of competition, until these had to be abandoned;
(c) new sources of growth always have to be sought, and Malaysia is now working the services sector, especially in the information technology area. As we know, Malaysia's emphasis on education and knowledge was strong enough for it to have test scores in science and math at levels above the world averages. During a visit to Malaysia, the Deputy Prime Minister described Malaysia's secret recipe for development in three words: education, education, education.
III. What Political Economy Challenges Need to be Overcome for a Natural Resource Plus Growth Strategy?
Ghana's political system has been described as 'neo-patrimonial', similar to that in many other developing countries. This involves the imposition of strong patron-client networks on top of the rules-based democratic framework, and its main consequence is to limit the policy autonomy of government. It explains in large part why policies tend to persist and not change as circumstances or opportunities change. Indeed, as Gyimah-Boadi, Killick and others argue in their study of the 'Drivers of change in
Ghana', and I quote:
behind Ghana's moderate growth statistics, there is limited structural economic change,…. in agriculture and other resource-based sectors such as mining, ….(and) in manufacturing, because this serves the interests of the beneficiaries of the existing distribution of power.
Of particular importance has been the limited ability of the government to
(a) offer an investment climate under which a strong and modern private sector can grow and flourish;
(b) to undertake public service reforms, especially in the civil service; and
(c) to steadily maintain macroeconomic stability.
How can the proposed growth strategy be implemented given the existence of a neo-patrimonial system? Political leadership and Civil Society Organizations ( CSOs) offer two possible ways forward.
Political leadership: As the Growth report emphasizes, leadership is central to sustained growth because it entails a decades-long commitment, and a bargain between the present and future generations. It takes decades to grow from a low to a middle income country, or from a middle to a high income country. During this period, savings and investments need to be high, and citizens must feel that the sacrifice is worth it. Leadership must be trusted, must be patient and must work with long time horizons.
Democracies find it hard to look beyond the next election, but even democracies have found ways to take a longer economic view. Botswana, within a democratic framework, has been the fastest growing economy in the world over the last three decades. India, the world's largest democracy, has been implementing economic reforms since at least 1991, even though it has had different parties in power: none has abandoned the reform process, in part because of a shared diagnosis among the country's leadership, and in part because the citizenry demands it.
The experience of the growth 'giants' indicates that each brought special leadership skills to the growth challenge, and did so actively. They balanced the interests of losers and gainers from each policy change, and took advantage of crises and opportunities to keep the momentum for growth alive
Crises and opportunities provide visionary leaders with openings to change policies. As we also know, crises themselves are also opportunities for reform. Indeed the Chinese character for crisis is made up by putting two other Chinese characters together: that for danger, alongside that for opportunity. Thus, crisis equals danger plus opportunity.
The most astute leaders have been those, like Deng Xiao Ping, Lee Kwan Yew, Mahathir, and Khama, who have used crises to change the political equilibrium in their societies in favor of deeper economic reforms. The food crisis of 1978 led Deng Xiao Ping to introduce land reforms which liberalized agricultural production and unleashed China's growth. Lee Kwan Yew used the separation from Malaysia, to change the policy environment in Singapore.
What crises and opportunities might Ghana's leadership confront?
There are crises looming ahead for Ghana:
The most significant of these is the current global crisis:
this has already brought uncertainty to the prices of food and fuel;
commodity prices have been falling;
the global recession is worsening and will affect trade, investments, remittances and possibly even aid.
There is a threat to Ghana's growth, to the balance of payments, to the fiscal accounts, and the prognosis for inflation remains worrisome. Projections for African growth have been reduced from earlier levels of 6% closer to 4-4.5%.
All of these will require rapid and effective responses from the next administration. Will these responses be business-as- usual? Or will the leadership find ways of changing the policy environment and implementing policies to increase growth in new ways?
There are also opportunities ahead, which can be turned to favor new growth policies in Ghana:
The most significant is the new oil discovery. The technical approaches to managing this new source of revenue and growth are well known, and we have referred to some of them such as transparency, a Stabilization Fund, an independent Public Investment Office, exchange rate management aimed at keeping non-oil tradeables such as agriculture competitive; and investing big time in education. Will the leadership find ways of putting all of these new policies in place by managing the losers and the gainers as part of a larger social compact?
A second opportunity arises from the structural shifts in the global economic system, with the rise of Asia and of new groupings like the BRICS. Many countries have used external partnerships as an opportunity to foster domestic policy changes. For example, the Eastern European economies fast-tracked many economic institutional and policy changes by joining the EU.
China did the same in 2001 by joining the WTO. Will our leadership be on the look out for similar opportunities, for example, by taking ownership of the Economic Partnership Agreements between ECOWAS and the EU? Will the new leadership take full advantage of China's new role in Ghana and Africa, and seek to both ensure a fair distribution of the gains and also to strengthen Ghana's capacity to gain further from the China relationship?
A third opportunity that may arise in the post-election period is finding a way to create a momentum to free up democratic forces at the District Assembly level and in general to promote greater decentralization on economic matters. This may require Constitutional amendments. But it can help leverage further reforms in favor of rural infrastructure, agriculture and education.
Will these crises and opportunities be used, with vision and deft handling, to help change policies that will put Ghana on a new growth path? Will the leadership find creative ways of compensating the potential losers and giving them a stake in the new policy environment?
Civil society organizations: The growth of CSOs has been rapid in Ghana, as in other countries. CSOs are seen as an essential complementary actor in democracies, even more so in newer democracies like Ghana's. CSOs play an important role in shaping public policy debates, and in some cases, advocating for specific reforms. CSOs include NGOs, the media, the private sector, churches, unions and other organizations outside of the formal governmental structures. In a sense, CSOs are made up of citizens, like you. And I.
How can CSOs help?
NGOs can analyze the impact of public expenditures and policies, and share their results widely with the public so as to promote public debates;
The media have a responsibility to encourage analytically grounded debates on the role of patronage networks, and the departures from more dynamic economic activities in agriculture and the private sector generally.
The private sector, and especially the younger entrepreneurs, who are involved in horticulture, outsourcing, private educational services, etc. have a role to play in fostering a rules-based investment climate.
Will these and other CSOs rise up to the challenge?
V. Conclusion: Let me conclude with a call to action:
to the new political leadership;
to NGOs, the media, the private sector, the new entrepreneurs, and other CSOs. Indeed to all of us.
As I have argued, the experience of the giants indicates that sustained growth is possible. And Ghana can embark on it.
Ghana can take advantage of crises and opportunities to make a frontal assault on the challenge of growth in Ghana.
The results would be outstanding!
We would have a stronger and more sustainable growth path;
We would be able to take advantage of our natural resources and move to a more manufacturing and services-driven economy..
We would see millions more people move above the poverty line and indeed create wealth, especially in rural and Northern Ghana. and
Finally, we would see Ghana ultimately join the 'giants' of growth.
Will we heed this call?
Will Ghana's growth dream emerge from the efforts of our civil society organizations? Indeed, from each one of us?
And, above all,WILL OUR LEADERSHIP HEED THIS CALL?