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Tue, 18 Jan 2011 Feature Article

Can Ghana’s resources be a blessing or curse?

Can Ghana’s resources be a blessing or curse?
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It's a known fact that Ghana is naturally enriched with many resources ranging from the mineral resources (gold, diamond, bauxite etc.) to the human resources. The purpose of this article is not to list the country's resources which are obviously known; but to analyze how these resources are contributing to the country's development and suggest ways of managing these resources which only a few countries are gifted with.

Is Ghana's population size and technology permitting it to derive the maximum satisfaction from its resources?

In analyzing how the country's resources are a blessing or a curse, population size and technology play a major role. Population size help in determining the presumed relative satisfaction derived per person in the country from its resources while technology also helps a country in terms of exploiting their resources. Thus the level of technology shows the extent that a resource can be exploited. In as much as how a country is blessed with abundance of a particular resource without the technological know-how the country cannot be better off. To answer the above question involves a combination of population size, available resources and the level of technology of the country; the lower the population size, the higher the level of technology and the greater the resource deposit, the more better off a country is. Considering the population size of the country, the abundant mineral deposit coupled with a very low technology level shows Ghana is overpopulated since the nation's population is large, in relation to the available resources and exiting level of technology. This leads to majority of people not enjoying decent living standard. To help curb this overpopulation, education on family planning should be intensified in the country most especially in the rural areas where people still have strange perception towards birth control policies. Talking of birth control one thing we must put in mind as a nation is that the motive is not about one's ability to or not to take care of a desired number of children but trimming down the population size to meet the available resource. Also, policies to support parents with smaller number of child birth (in some of their responsibilities) when put in place will help reduce the population size of the country.

Does the country have the human resource for extracting its resources?

Education is the key to human development. Ghana is having a low human development index, below 0.467, according to the 2010 UNDP human development index. And a functional literacy rate between 35% and 40%. Productivity is lower than what it is expected to be due to the nations education scheme which consist of about 70% of theory and 30% of practical hence making literates whose programme of study are mainly practical have baked elites. This explains why the Ghanaian economy is more of the service sector than industrialization and agriculture, as well as, why the mineral extracting industry in the country is dominated by foreigners. This situation implies that we the owners of the resources will be benefiting less of our own resources hence a smaller boost to our GDP instead of the exact boost the country is to have. To remedy this problem the education system in the country needs a serious reform which would tend towards more of practical than theory. In the short run, much effort should be made by government to full equip if not all tertiary institutions the major universities in the country with the necessary equipment to aid practical studies most especially in the sciences.

In conclusion, Ghana is being gifted with natural resources alright, but have all these resources in the hands of foreigners, an act of sheer desperation of wanting to extract our natural resources, due to the country's low level technology and lack of expertise. And if all the resources are treated in this manner will lead to a curse for the generations to come. On the other hand there is a possible for the country one day to have full benefits of all our natural resources and this comes with some conditions. The resources naturally deposited on our lands like any other non-renewable resources will run out at point in time for a long period of time hence causing the foreigners in charge of it to vacate them since on the long run it will be economically irrational for them to continue exploiting them. So, on condition that we revamp our technology level, develop our human resource as well as manage our population size as preparation towards the long term replenishment of our natural resources, the country can fully benefit from the revenue gained from the resources. Also, as country it would do us more good if we shy from the act of rushing into extracting our resources without not preparing ourselves to the level were the resource to be extracted would fully be in our control as well as shying from deals which involves using our resources as a collateral on the long run.

The author Dominic Osei Boakye is at Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, Department of Economics. Email [email protected]

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