President Akufo-Addo has indicated that more than 70% of Ghana’s population now has access to financial services either through a bank account or a mobile money account.
Disclosing this yesterday while delivering the 2021 State of the Nation Address (SoNA), the President said, “We have been able to do so through the implementation of mobile money interoperability (between bank accounts and mobile wallets), with Ghana as the first and only country in Africa to have done so. It is, therefore, not surprising that Ghana is the fastest growing mobile money market in Africa. Furthermore, our successful introduction of the Universal QR (Quick Response) Code for payments across banks, telcos, fintechs, and merchants will propel Ghana to be amongst the first countries in Africa (if not the first) to move towards a largely cashless economy, when fully rolled out across the country with the support of the Bank of Ghana.
Commenting on the economy, President Akufo-Addo said between 2017 and the first quarter of 2020, we had made considerable gains in the management of the national economy, where we witnessed annual average GDP growth of seven percent, single-digit inflation, reduced fiscal deficits with three consecutive years of primary surpluses, a relatively stable exchange rate, a significant improvement in the current account with three consecutive years of trade surpluses, strong foreign exchange reserve buffers, markedly reduced lending rates and appreciable job creation.
“We are determined to make our own things, and the Akufo-Addo government will continue with the agenda of rapid industrialization, to transform the structure of the Ghanaian economy from one dependent on the production and export of raw materials to a value-added industrialized economy. Under the One-District-One-Factory (1D1F) initiative, two 232 projects are at various stages of implementation. These include 76 operating as 1D1F companies, whilst 112, including five medium-size agro-processing factories and 63 common user facilities, are under construction,” he noted.
He said the Ghana Integrated Aluminium Development Corporation (GIADEC) had made good progress on the bauxite exploitation program that would drive Ghana’s industrial transformation agenda.
“We are in the final stage of an open and transparent investor engagement process and are in negotiations to select strategic investors to partner GIADEC for the bauxite mining and alumina refinery projects. The selected partners will be announced imminently. Similarly, the Ghana Integrated Iron and Steel Development Corporation (GIISDEC) has been set up and has begun its work in earnest,” he said.
“We have succeeded in attracting major global vehicle manufacturers under the automotive development policy to set up in Ghana. So far, Volkswagen has produced 1,167 vehicles, SinoTruk has 276 vehicles and our own Kantanka has 400 vehicles. The Japanese conglomerate, Nissan, has also started the assembly of vehicles in the country,” he said.
He said the Integrated Customs Management Systems (ICUMS), which was an end-to-end customs management system at the ports to enhance management and collection of customs duties, had, despite initial resistance and controversy, succeeded in eliminating the multiple routes before payment of duties, ensuring seamless processes, increasing revenues, and speedy processing of pre-manifest declaration and valuation on the same system.
“We have also integrated the Ghana.gov platform and the Integrated Tax Application Preparation Systems (ITaPs), which allows taxpayers to make payments at their convenience online and through taxpayers’ banks and the use of mobile money, credit cards, and debit cards. Mr. Speaker, it is clear that we have made significant strides in formalizing the economy and we will do even more going forward.”
However, the President continued that the cost of COVID-19 had been enormous; adding the overall economic growth rate for 2020 was revised downwards from 6.8% to 0.9%.
He said the non-oil economy was also revised from 6.7% to 1.6%.
“Revenue shortfall was estimated at GH¢13.5 billion, with additional expenditures related to stemming the tide of COVID-19 estimated at GH¢11.8 billion, with the combined effect amounting to GH¢25.3 billion, or 6.6% of GDP. The resultant fiscal deficit for 2020 was, thus, revised from 4.7% of GDP to 11.4% of GDP. This was done to reflect the impact of the pandemic. The fiscal responsibility rule of keeping a deficit within a threshold of 5% of GDP and a positive primary balance for every year was suspended in 2020 to enable fiscal operations to accommodate the impact of the pandemic,” he said.