Ghana’s chronological developmental aspirations up to the present; and the future perspectives

The present ongoing developmental aspiration of Ghana is known as Ghana Beyond Aid Agenda.

And this gigantic developmental aspiration is aimed at setting Ghana free from dependence on foreign aid in her striving for economic growth, development and prosperity.

This is indeed a laudable devel­opmental strategy for Ghana as a fast developing African nation in the world today to enable her to speedily achieve optimum economic growth, development and prosperity.

It will be of much interest in the context of the purpose of this article to present a concise overview of some of the developmental pro­grammes that Ghana had undertak­en since attaining political indepen­dence from British colonial rule and exploitation on March 6, 1957.

A major attempt at long term development planning in Ghana was the 10-year Plan for the economic and social development of the Gold Coast (1950-1960) which provided an outline of what it is hoped will be achieved in all fields of development beginning April 1, 1950.

In allusion to what economists call “perspective” or long term planning, the document referred to the 10-year period as “merely the phase in development of the coun­try which has been going on steadily for many years and will continue beyond the decade with which Plan is concerned” the plan has a budget of €150 million.

In 1951 however, following its as­sumption of office, the Convention People’s Party (CPP) seized by the urgency of the moment collapsed the 10-year Plan, into a 5-Year Plan (1951/52 – 1956/57) with a price tag of €117.6 million. Actual expen­diture however, came in at €93.7 million as the government outback spending to offset fall in cocoa pric­es (and by extension revenue) over the period.

The Plan was substantially com­pleted (as described by Kwame Nk­rumah in his autobiography by June 1957) and included such achieve­ment as the “Volta Valley Scheme” and “Aluminium Smelter” as well as the Industrial Development Corpo­ration which was formed to provide loans to “small industrial concerns” and establish industrial estates.

The period 1957 – 1958 was devoted in “consolidation plan” which drew tensions from the previous in anticipation of another medium-term plan. In March 1958, the second five-year Plan (1959-1964) was presented to parliament. Its total cost was €350 million with €100 million of that amount going into hydroelectric development and investment.

“Direct government participation in industry and for the pioneering of various industries directly by government” was advocated and the Investment Promotion Board was set up to seek foreign capital to complement the country’s efforts.

In presenting the Plan to Par­liament, Prime Minister Nkrumah stated among other things, “The wa­ter shortage in Accra only highlights the urgent need for improving water supplies throughout the country particularly in the rural areas”

In 1961, the second five-year Plan was terminated in favour of a Seven-year Development Plan for National Reconstruction and De­velopment (1963/64 – 1969/70) at a cost of €1,016 million. It was the most comprehensive national devel­opment plan yet, rather than what the Plan called “a public investment programme as had been done hitherto in this and other developing countries” emphasis was placed on the “the growth of the productive economy in all its aspects”. The Plan thus represented the first ever attempt at quantifying econom­ic growth and its relationship to improving the living standards of Ghanaians.

The seven-year Developmental Plan which was situated within a long-term vision of the country was innovative in another respect. It came with a national physical devel­opment containing detailed projects for transforming Ghana’s social and economic aspirations into tangible results and lived experiences across the country.

The National Physical Develop­ment Plan included for example forecasts of expected demand of electricity. For every major city and town in the country, the location of various factories and the number of jobs each was expected to create; the emerging pattern of urbanisa­tion and how to manage it; research endowments around the country and how they were to be used for economic and social transformation; as well as the outline of a “perspec­tive” plan that envisioned the state of development in the country by 1985.

Following the 1966 coup de tǎt, the seven-year development was terminated. However, it was already facing major implementation chal­lenges as the world market price of cocoa, the mainstay of the economy and the major source of financing the Plan had begun to fall in the early 1960s.

In his book, “Dark Days In Ghana” written after the coup Dr Nkrumah observed. “The very year the seven-year Development Plan was launched, cocoa prices began to fall steeply. At that time the prices of capital and manufactured goods needed for industry and agricultural projects, under the Plan were rapidly rising.

Between 1950 and 1961, they had risen by over 25 per cent. By 1965, the price of cocoa had fallen to €87.10 per ton, substantially lower than €210 assumed for the seven-year Development Plan. The resulting drop in foreign exchange earning translated into serious eco­nomic problems, industry shortages in certain basic commodities which could be produced locally or im­ported because of shortage of raw materials or foreign exchange.

The years were characterised by short-term plans where implemen­tation was often undermined by the frequent changes in government and attended political turmoil that the country experienced in latter half of the 1960’s to the early 1980’s. A notable exception was “Operation Feed Yourself” and “Operation Feed Your Industries”, an ambi­tious medium-term programme of self-reliance (including the partial nationalization of several multina­tionals under a strategy of “seizing the commanding heights of the economy”) in the mid 1970’s that saw a rapid expansion in agricultural output.

The government of the Provincial National Defence Council (PNDC) launched an Economic Recovery Programme (ERP) until the short-term aim of stabilising the macro recovery economy and laying the ground work for later economic revival. Short-term planning found further expansion in the structural Adjustment Programme (SAPS) that were subsequently initiated through public sector reforms, particularly of state-owned enterprises, as well as financial sector reforms, as part of a broader strategy to restore the economy to good health.

In 1984, as a result of ERP and SAP, economic growth turned pos­itive for the first time in four years; but policy makers felt the need for a long-term development planning to anticipate future challenges and prepare them accordingly.

Discussions and studies for the establishment of a state organisation to facilitate planning began in the late 1980’s, alongside plan to return the country to constitutional rule.

The 1992 Constitution laid the ground work for that return in 1993, followed in 1994 with the establish­ment of the National Development Planning Commission (NDPC) un­der Act 479. An associated law Act 480, prescribed the structure of a decentralised national development planning system, with NDPC as the apex coordinating and facilitating body.

In 1995, the president present­ed to parliament the first policy frame work for long-term national development under consolidated rule called Ghana Vision 2020 (the first step) (1996 – 2000), which aimed to transform the country into a middle-income one in 25 years. The frame work also represented the first coordinated programme of economic and social Development Policies which the Directive Princi­ples of state policy requires every President to submit to Parliament within two years of assuming office.

A medium-term plan with a programme of Action for the first Medium-Term Plan (1997-2000) was subsequently produced. Both however, faced delays in production, with the programme of Action being released in June 1998.

With the change in government in 2001, the overall long-term plan vision 2020 was set aside. The new government cited persistent and wide disparities between plan targets and actual performance as among the reasons for the cancellation.

Vision 2020 was succeeded by the Ghana Poverty Reduction Strategy (G.P.R.S II, 2006 – 2009). The replacement of “Ghana” with “Growth” in G.P.R.S II was suc­ceeded by the shared Growth and Development Agenda: 2014 – 2017 (G.S.G.D.A II). Both documents were based on the coordinated programme of Economic and Social Development Policies.

The foregoing chronological sketch in Ghana’s developmental programmes gives vivid evidence of some weaknesses and challenges that they faced during the various periods that they were launched. Clearly, it has been an uphill and downhill matter, which could not have been easily resisted due to formidable negative circumstances, by the governments of the day.

The world market prevailing pric­es for Ghana’s agricultural products, particularly cocoa products adversely affected the successful implemen­tation of these developmental programmes.

Ghana would have fared better with these developmental pro­grammes that she initiated and launched; had conditions been smooth sailing and favorable.

As stated in the beginning of this article, the Ghana Beyond Aid Agenda is currently ongoing in the context of Ghana’s developmental aspirations; and the country hopes to benefit tremendously from this gigantic developmental programme as far as the strategies and vision are concerned.

Considering all the difficulties and challenges that the previous developmental programmes of Gha­na had to face, one cannot dishon­estly discredit the governments that initiated them at the various points of time.

Ghana had therefore not per­formed badly as compared to other developing countries in the world today, particularly African countries.

On the basis of this fair analysis and evaluation of Ghana’s devel­opmental aspirations, I will humbly suggest that the National Planning Development Commission must devise a comprehensive long term blue print development programme for the country now for the future, which will be binding on any gov­ernment that comes into power, to meticulously follow to the letter, devoid of partisan politics.

This will be the ideal for Ghana to speedily experience much economic growth, development and prosperity.

Although, such a development programme will pose difficulties and become a herculean task for the National Development Planning Commission, it must boldly take the bull by the horns, and devise such an ideal national development programme for the country, that will be free from partisan politics.

The National Development Plan­ning Commission must demonstrate the rationale for its establishment; and its modus operandi without any bias whatsoever in Ghana’s demo­cratic system of governance.

In conclusion, I state categorical­ly that the National Development Planning Commission must by virtue of its mandate, take absolute control of Ghana’s developmental programmes and assist prospective governments to implement them for the future; for it is Ghana that matters; and the focus, but not prospective governments and their short-terms myopic interests!


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