GHANA WILL submit itself to be reviewed by its peers, for the second time, on Friday, November 11, in Abuja, Nigeria, under the African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM).
This will be Ghana's final review under the New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD), which demonstrates to the world the nation's commitment to probity, accountability and transparency, in governance.
President John Agyekum Kufuor announced this, yesterday, in London, at the launch of the Financial Times Supplement on Ghana, and a round table conference, organised by the Financial Times to showcase Ghana to the International Investment and Commercial Communities.
Speaking on the theme: “The African Development challenge: the Prospective Ghana”, President Kufuor observed that Ghana has seemed destined to be a trail-blazer in many respects, including development in Africa. However, though it was the first to have gained independence in 1957, and inspired the independence movements all over the continent, the nation suffered a chequered political career for the next 30 years, with experimentations with different ideologies and military regimes such that, its development became stunted.
Fortunately, he noted, since his administration assumed office in 2001, it has consistently adhered to the best practices in good governance, citing for instance that, upholding the Rule of Law, respect for Human Rights, and the Independence of the Judiciary, Tolerance for free, independent and vibrant media, exemplified by the abolition of the criminal libel law, which had been used to muzzle the press in earlier times, are major sign-posts of the positive change.
“This positive change is also becoming widespread on the continent”, he stressed, and emphasised “my government has for the first time, in the history of Ghana, established two key ministries, for Private Sector Development and the Ministry of Public Reform, to institutionalise the Public-Private Sector partnership, as well as the establishment of the Women and Children's Ministry, at cabinet level”.
Recounting how his administration assumed office, at a time of stagnation with the economy in dire straits, with inflation at 42 per cent, bank lending rates at 52 per cent and currency depreciating 50 per cent against the US dollar in 2001, President Kufuor added that, the country's National Reserves were US$200 million, covering only 14 days of imports, with crude oil reserves for only six days.
As a result, Ghana was black-listed for non-payment, by suppliers, he explained, more so, the external debt stock of the country, which stood at 6.1 billion dollars, was clearly unsustainable to sustain the country.
Today, President Kufuor was happy that, the situation has been dramatically reversed, through sound and sustained macro-economic policies and management. The government has also, succeeded to reverse the inflationary trends to a current of 11 per cent, he explained, but was quick to add that, the inflation would have been down to single digit, but for the high levels of crude oil prices.
“The currency has stabilised against the dollar, over the past two years, and interest rates have also dropped from 52 to 22 per cent, and clearly, going down. The country's current reserves of US$1.6 billion cover a four-month period of imports, President Kufuor explained, and reiterate that, the HIPC Initiative that was taken in 2001, passed the completion point in record time of two and half years, to earn outright 2 billion dollars of debt forgiveness, and a further 2 billion dollars spread over the next 20 years, from the creditor nations of the Paris Club, last year.
To cap it all, in recognition of Ghana's good political and economic governance, President Kufuor underlined that the G-8 countries selected Ghana as one of 18 in the developing world to benefit from the 100 per cent multilateral debt-forgiveness, recently decided.
This, will avail Ghana of further 4.2 billion dollars in addition to the $2 billion cancellation of last year.
In his view, Ghana sits at the centre of the world, where the meridian intersects the equator, and this endows it with accessibility along the trade routes across the Atlantic Ocean, from the Americas, Europe, Middle East, Western Asia and Southern Africa.
By air, Ghana can reach many of these continental destinations within 5 to 10 hours, he stated.
Referring to London as the great post office for Ghana's trade, economic, finance, diplomatic and other critical engagements in Europe and much of the nest of the world, President Kufuor invited the entire international business community to recognise and come to Ghana as a profitable Investment Destination, because Ghana is a major gateway to Africa.