Ghana at 61: A Short Reflection
God Bless Ghana. We are a stable country. We have done well than anyone else in West Africa
The first challenge in the development of any country is political stability. However, the biggest challenge in the development of any country is economic.
Ghana has managed to achieve the first challenge i.e. political stability. Ghana is one of the stable countries in West Africa if not the most stable. There has not been any major outbreak of conflict in the country since independence. (Though there has been occasional ethnic and religious conflicts, they are low scale and have had little impact on the overall stability and security of the country). In fact, unlike Nigeria, Senegal, Mali, Niger, Ivory Coast, Liberia, Sierra Leone that have experienced major civil wars and secessions, (many still struggle with maintaining internal political stability), Ghana continues to be an island in a turbulent ocean.
On the economic front, we have done relatively well since 1957. Extreme poverty and deprivations are not visible in the country. Extreme hunger and malnutrition are not rampant in the cities and the countryside. When we gained independence from the British in 1957, few of our compatriots could read and write. Electricity was a luxury commodity. There were few motorable roads in the country. The few roads were concentrated in areas where the British could extract massive minerals, timber, cocoa and other products. Today, the situation is different. Access to education, healthcare, water, roads, electricity and other socio-economic services have widened and improved since 1957.
However, given our abundant natural resources we could have done better than what we have done since 1957. We have not done much in spreading wealth to the majority of the people. There are serious socioeconomic disparities between and within the 10 regions, between urban and rural areas, and within cities. There are many of our people who still struggle with housing, food, water, electricity, and particularly jobs. This is our biggest challenge (which may undermine her stability).
It is not so easy to overcome this challenge in the short term. It may take us decades or even a century to realise widespread economic development. We must however not give up the fight. With hard work, dedication and extreme focus we can achieve economic development. As the Singaporean diplomat Kishore Mahbubani observed in 1998, “You cannot get good grades in an examination by luck. It requires intelligence and hard work. Similarly, you cannot get good economic performance, especially of the scale seen in Asia, simply by luck. It reflects both intelligence and hard work...It took the British 58 years (from 1780), America 47 years (from 1839) and Japan 33 years (from the 1880s) to double their economic output. On the other hand, it took Indonesia 17 years, South Korea 11 years and China 10 years to do the same". That means with hard work Ghana can overcome our economic challenge.
To beat the challenge, we must continue to liberalise the economy, encourage local and foreign investment. We must encourage high level of domestic savings to enable the banks and financial institutions to loan money to businesses for investment. We must practise disciplined fiscal policies that promote using money and other resources carefully and not wastefully. Therefore we must build strong, resilient, corruption-proof political, economic and social institutions. We must also invest in socio-economic infrastructure (roads, harbours, telecommunication, railways, energy, hospitals, education) to stimulate economic growth. We should invest in human capital, and encourage Ghanaians to set up businesses.
We must build strong bilateral and multilateral alliances with the countries in West Africa, Africa, Asia, Europe, North America, South America and the Pacific to encourage trade and investment, export and exchange ideas, technology, and scientific knowledge.
Finally, all citizens, government, political parties, civil society organisations, businesses, and media must be encouraged to play their part.
All of us played a role in making Ghana a stable country and together we can beat the biggest challenge we face i.e. economic.
By Lord Adusei