Measuring Ghana’s democracy by economic progress and development

A miner

A miner

Ghana is not just the first sub Saharan African country to attain independence, in 1957, and the beacon of political stability and democracy on the continent.

The country is also endowed with natural resources, such as minerals (gold, bauxite, diamond and manganese), oil and timber, and fertile land and favourable climate for the cultivation of crops, particularly cocoa, for export.

Ghana’s journey to democracy has not been easy. Its attempts at constitutional and democratic experiments have been disrupted a number of times by political adventurers, in 1966, 1972, 1979 and 1981.

But since 1992, it has been able to endure another attempt at democratic rule, to the admiration of the international community.

Ghana has organised seven successful general elections, gone through three smooth transfers of power from one political party to the other, with the two dominant political parties, the National Democratic Congress (NDC) and New Patriotic Party (NPP), alternating power.

Recently, the country elected a President, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, and now has four former Presidents – Jerry John Rawlings, John Agyekum Kufuor and John Mahama, including one of blessed memory, John Evans Atta Mills. What rich human resource for Ghana!

Though not without challenges, the Executive, Legislature, Judiciary and other constitutionally mandated institutions like Commission on Humana Rights and Administrative Justice, Ghana Police Service, Economic and Organised Crime Office, have managed to keep democracy in the country intact.

It appears Ghana is gradually consolidating democracy, but the question that continues to boggle the minds of many citizens is whether the gains under the system of governance are commensurate with the socio-economic progress and infrastructural development.

Undisputedly, successive governments since independence, particularly under the Fourth Republic, have provided infrastructure, water, electricity, hospitals, schools, roads among other amenities, and initiated socio-economic interventions, to improve the welfare of the people.

They have also formulated policies, to support investment, particularly in agriculture and manufacturing, to revamp the economy.

The Kwame Nkrumah government for instance, embarked upon a seven-year development plan, to bring Ghana to the threshold of a modern state, based on a highly organised and efficient agricultural and industrial programme.

The initiative targeted agriculture and live stock production, with state subsidies in the provision of crop seeds, cheap loans to farmers, agronomic extension officers, and the and the construction of silos for food preservation.

The programme also focused on manufacturing, which resulted in the setting up of

Tema Food Complex, Ghana Distilleries, Ghana Shoe Factory, Ghana Jute Factory, Tomato Processing Factory, Wenchi, Match Factory, Kade, Pwalugu Tomatoe Factory, Ghana Glass Factory at Abuoso and Tarkwa, Gold Processing Factory at Prestia, Meat Processing Factory at Bolgatanga, Akasanoma Radio Factory, Paper Processing Factory, Ghana Cement Factory atTakoradi, Volta Aluminum Company (VALCO) and Tema Steel Factory.

The initiative was basically to ensure the expansion of the economy, increase productivity, create more jobs for the youth, broaden the tax net and increase domestic revenue and export earnings, to make the repayment of loans possible.

However, these were not enough to turn round the fortunes of a country experiencing population increase, coupled with poverty, diseases, ignorance, illiteracy and unemployment, because most of the industries and economic ventures were either sold out to private individuals, who could not maintain them, or they were allowed to collapse.

Ghana cannot afford to neglect Industrialization, because it has become synonymous with economic growth and development throughout the world. This is the surest way to make good use of our human and physical resources, to improve agriculture, trade, transport and other economic activities.

Indeed, the best solution to our socio-economic problems lies largely in rapid industralisation, in order to absorb the manpower rendered surplus, especially by agriculture, in the rural areas.

The “One District One Factory” programme of the government is, therefore, considered another bold move by the government towards rapid and sustainable economic growth, agricultural transformation and industrialization.

The National Coordinator of the ‘One District, One Factory’ secretariat, Mrs Gifty Ohene-Konadu, at a media briefing, confirmed that her outfit had received the GHC450million earmarked in the 2017 budget, to kick-start the project.

She said government’s commitment to the programme had generated investment pledges and commitments to a tune of US$3billion.

The “One District One Factory” programme, is a flagship industrialisation programme, promised by the NPP during the 2016 electoral campaign, aimed at building a factory in each of the 216 districts of the country.

The programme, which would be implemented with the private sector support, is expected to provide business support services and capacity budding, mentoring and coaching.

It would also create networking opportunities, assistance with financial planning and financial management, regulatory and legal compliance, links to strategic partners for market and community access.

Mrs Ohene-Konadu said that the financial support for the projects would start from a minimum of US$5,000 to a maximum of US$10,000, based on project size and operational categorisation.

She said the secretariat is encouraged by an intense interest of the public to take advantage of the policy, as demonstrated by meetings between the secretariat and some primary stakeholders – business leaders, political players and potential investors from South Africa, India, China, Britain, and Turkey among other countries.

“We have also begun to receive enquiries about our work. On average, we have about 30 enquiries a week on what we have to offer and what role entities and individuals can play in order to benefit from it,” Mrs Ohene-Konadu indicated.

She said the secretariat was currently reviewing a number of business plans, and urged investors and player of the business sector interested in the project to submit proposals and plans for review.

Meetings with entities like the Association of Ghana Industries, Chamber of Commerce, Adventist Development and Relief Agency, Ghana, among other groups, have been held to clarify the purpose and objectives of the project, Mrs Ohene-Konadu indicated.

The government has also initiated the ‘Planting for Food and Jobs’ scheme, aimed at revamping the agriculture sector. The GHc516 million programme is expected to create 750,000 jobs, and the Canadian government and the World Bank are supporting the farming programme with $125million and $50million respectively.

All is set for the country to undertake agriculture and industrial transformation. But the government would have to ensure that the acquisition of factors of production, thus land, labour, capital and entrepreneurship, are made easy and legal to create a favourable climate for both local and foreign investors.

Although economic development is based on the legal ownership of assets, their acquisition has become cumbersome and often characterised by litigation, discouraging operators of the business sector from investing in the country.

Land acquisition and ownership has become a thorny issue in Ghana, with the phenomenon of land guards, depriving some people of their land and property, and resulting in deaths.

The government has no alternative than to collaborate with traditional authorities to review the land tenure system, and to improve and decentralise the administration of land and property ownership.

The government should ensure the proper networking of communication systems, to facilitate the collection and transmission of economic data, to ensure their timely use, because Information Communication Technology, which has become an indispensable tool for development as modern entrepreneurship among other considerations, thrived on adequate data.

The promotion of good governance and human rights are desirable, but these achievements per se cannot result in development and prosperity for the citizenry.

Most of our fertile land has remained fallow, we still import basic food staple like rice, canned tomatoes, fruit juice and vegetables, there are only a few factories and unemployment is on the rise.

The only way Ghana can be better off, is for our leaders to take advantage of the democratic gains, thus peace and stability, and mobilize the country’s manpower towards the exploitation of natural resources to the full benefit of the people.

Clemence Okumah

 

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