Discipline and hard work, key to ‘Ghana Beyond Aid’ agenda – President

… as GDP growth expected to reach 8.3% this year

President Akufo-Addo has stated that it is a prerequisite for Ghanaians to exercise a high level of discipline and hard work to achieve the ‘Ghana Beyond Aid’ agenda.

He said citizens will have to effectively harness the country’s resources and creatively and efficiently deploy them for rapid economic and social transformation.

“This will require hard work, enterprise, creativity, and a consistent fight against corruption in public life.” Akufo-Addo stressed, in his speech on the occasion of Ghana’s 61st Independence Day Celebration yesterday.

The President observed that after a year of disciplined and innovative economic management, “our economy has grown from 3.6 percent in 2016, the lowest in 22 years to 7.9 percent in 2017 and in this year, expected to grow at 8.3 percent, making Ghana the fastest growing economy in the world. We can certainly move beyond aid if we become more determined as ever.”

Explaining further, President Akufo-Addo noted that the country has been on this trajectory of support for a greater part of its 61 years as an independent country but Aid has never brought it anywhere near a developed nation status.

A brief history of Ghana reveals its checkered development, both politically and economically, since independence.

The territory – endowed with gold and a host of other industrial metals, in addition to cocoa and large swathes of fertile land and visited by European traders – which is now Ghana, has been involved in all phases of Africa’s economic development during the last thousand years. As the economic fortunes of African societies have waxed and waned, so, too, have Ghana’s, leaving the country in the early 1990s in a state of arrested development, unable to make the “leap” to Africa’s next, as yet uncertain, phase of economic evolution.

At independence in 1957, citizens believed strongly that they would finally benefit from the wealth generated from the country’s natural resources.

This expectation was on account of the country’s first president Kwame Nkrumah’s charismatic figure, coupled with his experience as a Prime Minister of the colony from 1954 to 1956.

But Nkrumah’s relationship with the citizenry turned sour as he raised taxes in a bid to pay for the construction of the Akosombo Hydro-electric Dam, a project meant to kick start the structural transformation of the economy.

The growing resentment eventually led to a violent regime change.

The National Liberation Council (NLC) made up of Military and Police officers was birthed after a coup overthrew Nkrumah’s CPP government on February 24,1966, ruling till 1969 when elections were held after a constitution was drafted for the Second Republic.

The succeeding Progress Party government, with Kofi Abrefa Busia, Prime Minister and Chief Justice, Edward Akufo-Addo as President would attract the resentment of the masses as they rolled out an austerity plan and devalued the currency on the back of slumping cocoa prices and high national debt with the potential to cripple the economy.

On January 13, 1972, Lieutenant Colonel Ignatius Kutu Acheampong also overthrew the PP government, eventually driving the economy into negative growth through the Supreme Military Council (SMC) with inflation rate averaging 50 percent over a significant part of the regime.

Leadership of the SMC changed to Lieutenant General F. W. K. Affufo as Chairman.

Restrictions on political activities were relaxed in a lead up to elections in 1979, when Flight Lieutenant Jerry Rawlings and other junior officers launched another insurrection, the second to an initial one which failed, and the AFRC took over power form the SMC.

Dr. Hilla Limann took over as a civilian president in 1979 amidst a challenging economic situation and reports of corruption.

On December 31, 1981 Rawlings seized power again remaining the head of state for the next 20 years.

Ghana subsequently embraced democratic rule with elections being held in 1992 and the National Democratic Congress with Rawlings as candidate winning and forming the first government of the Fourth Republic.

The 1996 elections that followed were largely free and fair triggering economic recovery.

The NPP’s  John Kufour, won the Presidential elections held in year 2000 culminating in the first ever transitioning from one democratically elected government to another, a sign of  political stability.

Kufour’s presidency focused on the economy and international reputation making significant strides and securing re-election in 2004. Oil was discovered in commercial quantities adding to Ghana’s wealth in resources.

John Atta Mills became Ghana’s next president in 2008, leading the second NDC government. He, however, died in office in 2012. John Dramani Mahama, his Vice-President took over and also who won the subsequent elections in 2012.

Nana Addo Danquah Akufo-Addo, the current president, assumed office after the 2016 election on the back of promises of economic transformation through massive tax reforms and social interventions like the free Senior High School programme.

The economy has since shown massive realignment on the path of growth with all indicators pointing in the right direction, according to experts.

“Ours is a country that is well endowed with many natural resources such as gold, bauxite, diamonds, oil, timber, cocoa, water, fertile land etc. The truth, however, is that the state of our nation does not bear out that we have these natural endowments.  Poverty continues to be our lot. We have huge infrastructural deficits. Mismanagement, corruption and high fiscal deficits have become the hallmarks of our economy, which we finance through borrowing and foreign aid,” the President said.

He noted that, ‘Ghana Beyond Aid’ is not a pie in the sky notion, adding, “other countries, including some of our peers at independence have done exactly that.  It is doable and we must believe that what others, with less resources, have done, we can do”.

The President indicated, we are not going to achieve the transformation in our economy which is necessary for a ‘Ghana Beyond Aid’ by just talking about it.

“We have to do something about it! The economic transformation we want will not come through aid, as there is an evident of ‘aid fatigue’ in the West and we have to fight for our situation,” he added.

By Wisdom Jonny-Nuekpe & Godfred Gogo