Ghana – Democracy and Economy 2


In Ghana, President Kuffour has demanded, in line with his party’s constitution, the resignations of eight ministers who have declared themselves as candidates for the Presidential nomination of their party, the NPP.

John Kuffour is a good man, and he himself is standing down as President after two terms in accordance with the law, something so very few leaders in Africa do. He is right to enforce the provisions of his own party constitution, too. There is also the point that he has been annoyed for at least a year that a minority of the candidates were so engaged in preparing their Presidential campaign, that they were neglecting their ministerial duties. It is also typical of Kuffour that he did not make an exception for hiw own brother, formerly Minister of Defence. Finally, as Kuffour has battled hard (and not 100% succesfully, but more succesfully than anyone else in Africa) against corruption among his ministers, it removes the temptation of ministers to use their ministries to fund their campaigns.

But still, it is unlucky for Ghana that they should prematurely lose the services of good ministers like Nana Akuffo Addo, Jake Obetsebi Lamptey and Kwame Addo Kuffour. We wait to see whether the new team bring new impetus to Kuffour’s remaining time in office. One thing Ghana does not lack is talent

It is very difficult for me, because I count most of the presidential aspirants as personal friends, several of whom have really outstanding qualities – in mentioning the three above it would be churlish not to mention another former minister, Yaw Osafo Marfo, who has a brain the size of a planet.

Ghana is a genuine democracy and there are good people in the opposition NDC, too, particularly John Mahama. The whole Presidential process should be fascinating.

Ghana is a ready corrective to the gormless naivety of the Make Poverty History campaign. Ghana has done everything right. It is a democracy with a first class human rights record. All governments everywhere are corrupt, but Ghana’s is less so than, say , the UK (no billion pound BAE slush funds in Ghana). Because it ticks all the right governance buttons, Ghana has benefitted enormously from debt relief, and from aid flows. The money has all gone to exactly the right places – education, and bottom-up rural development.

Yet after a decade of being held up as a “Model” by the IMF, DFID and NEPAD, Ghana remains stubbornly poor. Accra is booming in terms of roads and literally miles of burgeoning middle class estates, but for ordinary Ghanaians, rising rents, transport and food costs squeeze out any improvement in their standard of living. Even when you do everything right, trickledown just isn’t happening. Why?

I fear part of the answer is, it never does. You can also point to climate change and electricity shortages because of falling water levels in the Volta Dam. I believe that part of the problem is that it was wrong for aid agencies to turn their backs on project work, and we should be building roads, bridges and power stations – fully funded by us – in addition to the increased budget support. But what Ghana shows is that the prescriptions of the development experts, which change with fashion every decade, will not in themselves bring Africa out of poverty.


2 thoughts on “Ghana – Democracy and Economy

  • Tonys Akiller

    Craig. Use your contacts to urgently send these good soundinging men British passports.

    God knows, what with the desparate shortage of the qualities these men supposedly have.

    Far better to grab intelligent men then to try and grab oil killing millions in the process.

  • Strategist

    "Yet after a decade of being held up as a "Model" by the IMF, DFID and NEPAD, Ghana remains stubbornly poor. Accra is booming in terms of roads and literally miles of burgeoning middle class estates, but for ordinary Ghanaians, rising rents, transport and food costs squeeze out any improvement in their standard of living. Even when you do everything right, trickledown just isn't happening. Why?"

    May I recommend to everyone "Progress and Poverty" by Henry George, first published in 1879, a new edition has been launched in 2007. (See http://www.labourland.org/the_campaign/events.php and http://www.shepheard-walwyn.co.uk/book_details.asp?Booki...

    The book tackles this question head on. And it helps with understanding (say) London's housing market as much as Accra's.

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