Following the attainment of independence in 1957 and the act of vindictiveness by the big six to ensure a sovereign state, it is an undeniable fact that, the initial progress made by the likes of Dr. Kwame Nkrumah, Acheampong, etc in terms of their development goals and set agendas in the past should have made Ghana, a land flowing with milk and honey than what is currently witnessed.
Comparably, Malaysia attained independence in 1957 with a 2019 population estimation of over 32million. Malaysia’s GDP per capita in 2018 represented 96% of the World’s average with a per capita GDP of US$12,109.50 dollars. Natural resource endowment and production after the attainment of independence were rubber and oil plantation in Malaysia. These goods also served as the commercial crops, mainly planted serving purposely as foodstuffs and giving Malaysia quicker returns. In order to reduce over-reliance on the importation of rice, the country quickly shifted attention to rice plantation which fed its population and the outside world (bringing in foreign reserves). Many have speculated that the first oil palm seeds ever planted in Malaysia were taken from Ghana and some even speculate the seeds came from Nigeria. Both Ghana and Malaysia were British colonies who strived after independence to create a wealthy economy. Today, Malaysia’s economy stands enviable among the world’s best 20 economies with an annual growth rate of 6.5%. It has been among the major supplies of tin, rubber, palm oil, timber, oil, liquefied natural gas, etc. Comparably, Ghana attained independence around the same year as Malaysia, with a current population of over 29million, Ghana’s GDP per capita was US$1,807.10 dollars in 2018 representing just 14% of the World’s average. Ghana produces Cocoa and it’s the largest producer in the world and the second-largest producer of gold in Africa. It’s also into other mineral production like Bauxite and manganese and recently discovered oil and gas in the country. The country also has arable lands that are capable of boosting agriculture by contributing towards cash crop, fruit and vegetable production in the country to ensure long term growth just like the path taken by Indonesia, Malaysia and China years ago.
Ghana’s economic stagnation may be attributed to political antics and corruption of officials past and present. Rwanda, on the contrary, is an African country but much focused on the infrastructural enhancement and economic development. Rwanda attained its independence in the year 1962 with a current population of over 12million. After the attainment of independence, the country was embattled with a genocide in 1994 which claimed between 500,000 to 1,000,00 lives coupled with huge economic loss and infrastructural damage in the same period. In 2018, Rwanda’s GDP per capita stood at US$826.30 dollars. What is motivating and worth learning from Rwanda is that they keep getting better year after year and economic growth rates keep picking up positively indicating future economic growth for Rwanda and the possibility of the country becoming Africa’s leading developed country years to come, all things being equal. Rwanda is not the status quo currently but the message here is, Ghana can learn from the zeal and determination of such a country to do better looking at Ghana’s current position and resource endowment. This is to say that, Rwanda has made a big comeback after the genocide and data from 2009 to 2019 indicates consistency in terms of growth rates in GDP and per capita income year after year and Ghana has a lot to learn pertaining to such determination and consistency.
Ghana has had a lot of ideas in the past that were liable for contributing to long term reduction in unemployment and contributing positively towards economic development and growth. Among such initiatives include the YES initiative introduced in 2016 to provide assistance to young Ghanaians with creative and innovative entrepreneurial ideas. It is indubitable that, such initiative devoid of partisanship and influenced by political agenda would have gone a long way to ensuring employment and infrastructure development. There have been subsequent programs introduced with the aim to ensuring employment and sustainable growth; the National Youth Employment program, planting for food and jobs, Nabco and so on. These social intervention programs are the bedrock of every economy’s success. China, Malaysia, Indonesia and most of these now developed/developing countries took pragmatic measures in promoting agriculture to boost domestic consumption and exports. Ghana has the ideas and resources to ensure growth, but it mostly appears the average Ghanaian is too partisan than being patriotic. Such a concept has the tendency of retarding a nation’s growth. Ghana beyond aid was introduced specifically to ensure we put into effective use of our natural resources to ensure a greater proportion of self-reliance and reduce reliance on foreign aid. According to an article published on September 2018 by the Government of Ghana website, the United Kingdom in 2018 promised to support/aid Ghana with an amount of £20 million pounds to promote Ghana beyond aid. How do we call in for aid to support an agenda that is against aid, it’s abstruse, isn’t it? Ghana beyond aid will suffice only if our leaders put off the political spectacle and work together towards making a better Ghana. It will work only if the present administration does not renege, but take on bold steps to fulfilling its campaign promises specifically the One District, One Factory (1D1F) or if that’s not feasible, substitute the program with a “one region one factory” to tap on the resources and endowment of each region/district. Ghana beyond aid is achievable only if the current youth will stop being politically influenced and stop defending a party just because they are paid from the consolidated fund. Ghana beyond aid is pointless without necessarily alienating the bad and corrupt attitudes of our leaders, student body home and abroad that has very much contributed to Ghana seeking aid in the past and present. Ghana beyond aid is unachievable if the country and its policymakers have too much-misplaced priorities.
The world isn’t stagnant, it’s been moving forward from its very creation and to develop as a country, there is the need to be focused and learn from those who are fast picking up and likely to be at the top according to data and research. The zeal and enthusiasm of Rwanda to make the country better by implementing good policies that cut across education, transportation, infrastructure, ICT, security, housing, etc are what defines patriotism, putting the country first. We can do better by changing our attitude towards policies and thinking Ghana first and party last. The major problem that has contributed to the underdevelopment of most African countries is the attitude of most Africans. It, therefore, suffices to say that, to develop, there is the need to change our attitude as a continent and more individually as a country. The developed/developing countries earlier mentioned took the necessary steps by putting the nation first; by determination and aiming to achieve a development goal within a specific time frame, they executed and here they are today. The same steps are being taken by Rwanda under Paul Kagame’s administration, which has ensured consistency in growth in the past decade and if continued would ensure infrastructural and economic development making Rwanda possibly amongst the best countries in the world 15 years from now. Ghana has the resources and technical know-how to be better like the Malaysians; it’s, therefore, time to stop all the political gimmicks and come together regardless of political affiliation in building a vibrant, vigorous and better economy for current and generations yet unborn.
Writer: Emmanuel De-Graft Quarshie