Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Good governance in Ghana

It's going to be interesting to see if Ghana handles oil better than its big brother neighbour to the East. The country has a reputation for better governance than Nigeria, and its politicians are already talking the talk. But can it avoid the dreaded Dutch disease?

Ghana seeks to convert price spikes to profit

By Matthew Green in Accra

Published in today's FT.

Nana Akufo-Addo, presidential candidate for Ghana's ruling party, has pledged to invest part of the country's future oil income in agriculture, hoping to turn the pain caused by the global spike in fuel and food prices into profit.

Ghana, widely regarded as an example of successful economic and political reform in Africa, aims to start pumping 120,000 b/d of crude from an offshore field operated by the UK's Tullow Oil in 2010.

The prospect of controlling what could amount to billions of dollars of oil revenue has raised the stakes ahead of December's presidential elections, where a close race could pose the biggest test yet of the stability of Ghana's 16-year-old democracy.

Neither the ruling New Patriotic Party nor its main challenger, the National Democratic Congress, have presented a detailed plan for managing income to avoid the kind of corruption and collapse in farming and other industries that a rapid influx of oil wealth has caused in much bigger African producers such as Nigeria and Angola.

Mr Akufo-Addo, however, said part of Ghana's oil earnings - which he projects at $15bn in the first five years - would be used to open land for cultivation in the relatively undeveloped north should his NPP extended its eight-year run in power.

"We have large chunks of the northern part of our country, which could assure us food security in Ghana, if we also go about the planning of the agricultural development there properly," Mr Akufo-Addo told the Financial Times in an interview in Accra, the capital.

Ghana's quest to boost food production reflects a wider trend among African governments seeking ways to lure investment into agriculture to defuse the kind of unrest that surging prices for imported staples caused in countries such as Cameroon, Ivory Coast and Senegal this year.

Mr Akufo-Addo, who served outgoing president John Kufuor as justice minister and attorney-general, also pledged to promote the manufacturing sector in Ghana, targetting West Africa's Ecowas trade zone, as part of a strategy to promote job-creating industries processing agricultural and other produce.

John Atta Mills, who is making his third attempt at the presidency as the flagbearer of the opposition NDC, has also pledged to ensure the transparent management of oil revenues to stimulate faster economic growth.

The NPP government has enjoyed some success in boosting Ghana's cocoa exports and cassava production in recent years, but rice and grain output still lags far behind domestic demand due in part to a lack of irrigation.

Mr Akufo-Addo's pledge to boost development in the north also reflects the party's desire to broaden its appeal in a traditional stronghold for the NDC.

The NPP can point to several years of strong economic growth under Mr Kufuor, who is stepping down after two terms in power, but rising inflation -- which hit a four-year high of 18.4 per cent year on year in June – has .fuelled support for the opposition.


Homeless 7:49 pm  

I sincerely wish them well.

anonymaus,  5:15 am  

I came across a similar article about a week ago.

Here is the link:

This part of the reason why I like Ghanaians, they
are quiet, modest and at the same time work hard, are proud,
confident and ambitious. They don't shout and make unnecessary noise like Nigerians, they quietly
work away in the background and make progress.

I like the way that political contenders for the upcoming election are pledging to boost agricultural production in the north, recognising it is a part
of the country that also merits development. If it were Nigeria, part of the press would be whipping up anti-northern sentiment, claiming that they are undeservedly being awarded too much of the
national cake, and people wonder why the north is aloof from the rest of the country. Nigeria
has much to learn from it's neighbour to the west,they should be humble and take on board the lesson.

Let us hope the political classes don't squander this chance to make Ghana a better place for all of its people and to be that beacon of hope (development, stability and orderliness), the shining black star on a continent of on-achievers (Botswana being a notable exception) for the most part. God bless Ghana!!

It is good to see that the movers and shakers in Ghana are looking to agriculture, not some nonsense schemes like copying the Dubai model (that some Nigerian governors wanted to emulate), what rubbish! Start with the basics and then work upwards from there.

Anonymous,  12:13 pm  

For Nigerians old enough to be around for Oloibiri, you'll realize that Ghana is making the same noises as Nigeria did in 1955-56. Problem is, Ghana is a country where corruption already has a choke-hold on meaningful development.

While Ghana is not likely to produce enough oil for the Dutch Disease to set in, anyone waiting for 'good governance' in a country where corruption is already the order of the day may well be waiting in vain. I am not optimistic about this. Not at all. Indeed, none of my Ghana pals are either - there is just so little evidence that a nation like Ghana, already enormously blessed with resources -will handle this, the juiciest, fattest cow any better than it has with the previous resources.

Anonymous,  4:39 pm  

BMW - black man's wahala...we talk, we gesticulate, we shout, we argue, we strut, then we bring in the oyinbo man to do the real work. The oyinbo plans, executes, learns from mistakes, does it better next the meantime, we talk, talk, we pray hard, we eat well, we sleep well, we enjoy, we talk, we apportion blame, we argue, blah, blah........are we really good enough to manage our affairs? The proof my fellow Black Africans is in the pudding. " Lunatics are running the Asylum"

Mike,  6:25 pm  

Nigeria's attempts to boost agreicultural production have resulted in a large number of very large dams in the North.

Ill conceived and environmentally disastrous for the natural fadamas and local populations I can only hope they pull them all down.

Ghana may of course make the same mistakes (encouraged by the usual funding agencies and engineering consultants) as lessons have not been learnt - they are still building in the North of NIgeria.

I sometimes wish there was a God so that 'God punish them!' actually meant something.

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