The President of the Republic, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, says the realisation of his vision of Ghana Beyond Aid “requires a deliberate, qualitative change in all aspects of our lives; especially, in the structure of our economy, the nature of our infrastructure, the education of our young people and acquisition of skills, and, above all, in our attitudes and holding firm to the values that define us.”
According to President Akufo-Addo, “even if there were no aid fatigue, and with the best will in the world and the most charitable governments in place in the so-called donor countries, there will never be enough aid to develop Ghana to the level we want. Aid was never meant to be what would bring us to the status of a developed nation.”
President Akufo-Addo made this known when he delivered his address at the 61st Independence Day Celebration, at the Black Star Square, on Tuesday, 6th March, 2018, which had the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, His Excellency Muhammadu Buhari, as the Special Guest of Honour.
The President noted that his government has started on the right path towards a prosperous future with the concrete steps it is taking to restore macro-economic stability and economic growth, explaining that after a year of disciplined and innovative economic management, the results have been remarkable.
The economy, the President said, has grown from 3.6% in 2016 to 7.9% in 2017; inflation has gone down from 15.6% at the end of 2016 to 10.3%, as of January 2018; and a spectacular revival from a growth rate of -0.5% in 2016 to 17.7% in 2017.
“Interest rates are on the decline, the cedi is stabilising, and the fiscal deficit has gone down from 9.3% in 2016 to 5.6% of GDP in 2017, with a projection of 4.5% for 2018. Fiscal discipline has been restored, and fiscal consolidation has taken hold. For the first time since 2006, government has been able to meet its fiscal deficit target,” the President said.
He continued, “We will continue to manage the economy in a disciplined and sound framework so that we maintain fiscal and debt sustainability. This, in the long run, is fundamental to moving Beyond Aid.”
An improving, disciplined macro-economy, the President stressed, is essential for expanding the economy, and, thereby, creating jobs.
This year, he assured that Ghanaians will see vigorous job creation in the public sector, beginning with the recruitment of one hundred thousand (100,000) young men and women in the Nation Builders Corp.
“But, what I am seeking, above all, is the rapid growth of private sector jobs, both in industry and agriculture, i.e. in the programme for Planting for Food and Jobs, which should generate a lot of rural sector jobs. Moving Beyond Aid demands that effective measures are taken to address widespread unemployment, especially amongst our youth. We are on the right path to do so,” the President said.
Value Addition Activities
Getting Ghana to a situation Beyond Aid, the President said, means adding value to Ghanaian exports, and stop the export of materials such as cocoa, gold, bauxite, manganese and oil in their raw state.
“Our cocoa farmers, for example, get less than 10% of the value of a bar of chocolate, and yet cocoa is the main ingredient. On the world market, bauxite in its raw form is worth about $42 per metric tonne. Processing it just one stage further into alumina oxide will fetch twice that amount. Refining the alumina oxide into alumina will increase the value by seven times, and smeltered aluminium fetches one hundred fold what it gets in the raw state,” he said .
With Ghana having sought to establish an integrated bauxite and aluminium industry since independence, President Akufo-Addo says his government is determined to make it happen within the next three years.
“Work on the law establishing an Integrated Bauxite and Aluminium Development Authority is far advanced, and will be submitted to Parliament very shortly. Government also hopes to reach an agreement soon with potential partners to establish an alumina refinery, and expand the VALCO smelter. A successful execution of this project will be key in moving Ghana Beyond Aid, as will be the successful exploitation of our iron ore and manganese deposits to build a steel industry for our country and the region,” he added.
On Ghana’s “huge infrastructure needs in the areas of roads, bridges, water, electricity, housing, hospitals, schools, etc”, the President noted that
“My government is going to implement an alternative financing model to leverage our bauxite reserves, in particular, to finance a major infrastructure programme across Ghana. This will probably be the largest infrastructure programme in Ghana’s history, without any addition to Ghana’s debt stock. It will involve the barter or exchange of refined bauxite for infrastructure,” he said.
The President assured that his government expects to conclude this agreement and start its implementation this year, explaining that it will represent a paradigm shift in the financing of Ghana’s development priorities, and make it possible for the country to move Beyond Aid.
Having undertaken deliberate policy reforms to digitize Ghana, and to formalize the Ghanaian economy, President Akufo-Addo stated that the national identification and address system, the drivers licence and vehicle registration, the paperless operation at the ports, inter-operability of payment system in the financial sector, are all geared towards modernizing the economy.
“We should begin to feel the difference when all these measures become operational this year. I am looking forward, particularly, to the digitization of the land registration process to help the mortgage market, and release hundreds of billions of cedis to finance our development,” he said.
The President continued, “Digitization would also allow the delivery of education and health services to remote areas, reduce corruption, expand the tax base, expand e-commerce, make credit more available as uncertainty is reduced for financial institutions, and increase domestic resource mobilization.”
President Akufo-Addo assured the Ghanaians that his government is laying a strong foundation for an educated and skilled workforce of the future through the Free Senior High School (SHS) programme, which this academic year enabled 90,000 additional young Ghanaians to enrol in SHS.
“These are our future scientists, engineers, modern farmers, innovators, entrepreneurs, and transformation agents!” he said.
The President indicated further that, “in the years ahead, the principal thrust of national development policy must be to ensure that science, technology and innovation drive all sectors of the economy. We are going to commit resources to basic and applied science and engineering, that should result in the development of the capacity to manufacture machinery, equipment and component parts for industry, agriculture, especially machinery for planting, harvesting and processing of produce.”
Private Sector Development
For a government committed to the growth of the private sector, President Akufo-Addo noted that his administration believes that the private sector should be the critical partner in moving Ghana Beyond Aid.
“In truth, part of our problem has been that government tries to do too much, tries to take on far too much beyond its capacity. There are many projects in roads, railways, water transport, agriculture, etc. which, if properly structured, will attract private sector financing. Key to attracting private sector investment is a conducive, business friendly and peaceful environment,” he said.
In concluding, President Akufo-Addo stressed 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 mindset 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.”