In his 61st Independence Day address to the nation on Tuesday, 6th March 2018, President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo shared his vision of Ghana beyond Aid in more details than ever before.
He insisted that, “Ghana beyond Aid, is meant to be more than a slogan. It is meant to propel us into the frame of mind that would quicken our pace of development. It is meant to change our mind-set from one of dependency, to one of achieving our destiny. It is meant to put us in charge of our own affairs, and make us truly independent. Above all, Ghana beyond Aid will give us the respect and dignity we deserve”.
Admitting that we have underperformed in the area of economic development the President recounted that “around the time of our independence, we had peers such as Malaysia, South Korea and Singapore. Our per capita incomes were very similar at around four hundred and fifty United States dollars ($450) in 1960, and our economies were dependent on the production of primary commodities.
Today, these countries, once our peers, have significantly transformed themselves into industrialised economies. Income per head in Singapore is now at fifty one thousand, four hundred and thirty one United States dollars ($51,431), South Korea at twenty nine thousand, one hundred and fifteen United States dollars ($29,115), and Malaysia at nine thousand, six hundred and twenty three United States dollars ($9,623) compared to Ghana’s at one thousand, one hundred and fifty two United States dollars ($1,512)”
High income Ghana at 100
Four years ago, the World Bank created per capita income categories of countries to facilitate its work. According to the 2014 matrix, a country needed to record a minimum per capita income of US$ 12, 736 to be considered a high income country.
In that year the Bank pegged Ghana’s per capita income at USD$ 1,590 and called it middle income, but in the lower bracket. For me, that categorization is not acceptable. The middle of anything is half of that thing (50%). According to me, 50% of US$ 12, 736 is US$ 6,368. By that our middle income status is clearly in deficit of US$4,778. We need no argument on that.
What we need is an executable plan on how we can grow the economy to clear the deficit of US$4,778 to first, attain real middle income status and move from there towards the high income level of US$ 12, 736. Bearing in mind that the World Bank will periodically adjust to update the numbers to account for inflation, the per capita income is a moving target and would surely be much higher than the US$ 12, 736 of 2014 to fit the high income status in 2057, some 40 years from now when Ghana attains 100 years of independence.
This vision of high income country may seem impossible from where we stand today; a mere US$ 1500. But I am an incorrigible optimist. This is what we must argue for, fight for, “kill” for, and “die” for! Since 1992, the Ghanaian economy has stagnated at an average growth rate of five percent. But, we need to grow at a minimum of 10% consistently for 10 years to transform our economy.
Ghana beyond aid
In my opinion, Ghana beyond aid; is progressive, nationalistic, nice and even sexy. But it is only one of the Big Hairy Audacious Goals (BHAG) in the vision of attaining a high income Ghana by 2057. The President’s proposed “alternative financing model to leverage our bauxite reserves, in particular, to finance a major infrastructure programme across Ghana” is also progressive strategy and must be encouraged and supported by all.
The move to reduce utility tariffs, particularly, electricity from between 10 to 30% is commendable and a good place to begin with the industrialisation efforts. For any nation to industrialise, its utilities must be available in abundance and affordable as they contribute in a significant way to the cost of production and competitiveness of locally manufactured products against imported ones.
As we must necessarily industrialise to become a high income country, which would automatically take care of the Ghana beyond aid to self-reliance and economic independence, I expect government to do more, to create the enabling environment for the manufacturing sector to thrive.
The use of the state’s purchasing power to create a ready market for made in Ghana products is a game changer. For if there is no ready market for products from the flagship one-district-one factory policy, our vision of adding value to raw materials cannot be attained.
Finally, I have studied the development trajectory of our peers at independence in detail. They never put the “beyond aid” agenda on the front burner. In fact Lee Kwan Yew of Singapore was devastated when the British insisted on withdrawing their military base from the city state struggling to survive in the early years after independence. Apart from security, the British base contributed significantly to the national budget. So why are we in such a hurry to stop aid flow, when we can make do with it while we work hard to attain the vision of high income status? Who is pushing us to this priority? The International lobby or who? We must hasten slowly!
The Last Uprising
…with William DOWOKPOR