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An evaluation of the three-and-a-half-year-old Akufo-Addo government

Under the leadership of President Akufo-Addo the agriculture, industry and services sectors have developed outstandingly

According to the Economist Intelligence Unit, the world leader in business information and intelligence, six top industries are the determinants of economic development in anycountry. These are the automobile industry, telecommunications, consumer goods, health care, energy and commodities.

The six factors can in turn be broadly classified under three sectors: agriculture, industry and services. And all three of these are burgeoning in Ghana. Under the leadership of His Excellency Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, all three sectors have developed outstandingly.

Since 2016, average inflation has dropped by 9.6% while average GDP risen by 7%.

Automobile

Ghana is the third biggest economy among 17 West African countries and the seventh biggest in Africa. The total national automobile industry, for one, recorded total unit sales of 8,201 in 2015 – a 38.02% fall from the 13,231 achieved in 2012.

The significant decline in the automobile industry was the result of frequent forex fluctuation, growth of “grey markets” and excessive duty charges. Grey markets are vehicle deals in which individuals do not purchase directly from manufacturers. This was a peculiarity that impeded national development.

However, the industry is now thriving under the Akufo-Addo government. Now accounting for a quarter of gross domestic product, the automobile industry is thriving under the transformational agenda of the current government through the Ghana Automotive Development Policy. Vehicle assembly and automotive component manufacturing has moved the Ghanaian economy from a system of importers to an economy of assemblers.

With Volkswagen the first to sign a memorandum of understanding with the government to establish an automobile assembly plant, other vehicle manufacturers such as Renault, Suzuki, Nissan and Toyota will join soon join the German giant and Sinotruk of China, which has also already opened a plant in Ghana.

In faith with the 2016 manifesto promises made by the New Patriotic Party, LK International Company Ltd (Motor King) has employed 392 heads. At the same time, the government reduced import duties by 50%. There are currently four automotive companies in total in Ghana.

These are commendable efforts by the Akufo-Addo government. There are huge exemptions on import duties and levies for the vehicle assemblers. This is in line with a noticeable effort by the government to sustain the industry and help it thrive.

Manufacturing industry has increased its share of GDP from 3.7% in 2015 to 6.7% in 2019. I believe the Nana Akufo-Addo government has done a great deal to improve Ghana’s performance under this global determinant of development.

Health care

Good health is, of course, one of the most important sectors of the economy for all citizens. It would be foolish to try to deny the toil of the Akufo-Addo government through the Ministry of Health. After the country was struck by the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Presidency showed that this was not its first rodeo in governance and leadership.

It is impossible to talk about the health sector in Ghana without remembering those words: “We know how to bring the economy back to life. What we do not know is how to bring people back to life.” The Akufo-Addo government provided much-needed perspective during the hardest times after COVID-19 afflicted Ghana. The indulgence rendered to all and sundry cannot be shunted aside.

The president announced a range of special dispensations for frontline workers, from exemption from the payment of tax on employed income for April, May and June 2020, together with daily allowances of GHC50 for those undertaking contact tracing, to an insurance package with an assured sum of GHC350,000 and an additional allowance of 50% of basic salary for four months. These and the other special measures created for health-care workers are indeed praiseworthy –not to mention the absorption of water and electricity bills for three months.

One might say that the advent of the novel coronavirus was pennies from heaven. Yet one must address the incredulous response of some to the disease outbreak. The facilitation of €140 million to go into building Nkoranza District Hospital, a 400-bed secondary-level hospital at Tema, an accident and emergency centre at Dormaa Hospital and the reconstruction of the Central Medical Stores are all critical infrastructural developments in the health-care sector triggered by the arrival of COVID-19. Since the disease emerged in Ghana, the country has managed to enrol 73% of the population for free in the National Health Insurance Scheme. We have also witnessed the growth the Livelihood Empowerment Against Poverty (LEAP) programme and the restitution of nursing allowances, with 54,000 beneficiaries currently, among many other interventions.

Other health facilities worth mentioning which are still under construction are the Eastern Regional Hospital, the Shama District Hospital, La General Hospital in Accra, and the 12-storey 400-bed maternity and gynaecological centre and two-storey 101-bed urology and nephrology centre, both at Korle Bu.

These and many other examples of projects in hand are satisfactory for a government which has had only three years in which it has been able to work normally, followed by a year of crisis. Jobs in the health sector have been created for 90,969 people.

Education

In his quest to promote literacy and make open to each and every Ghanaian a free and fair education system, His Excellency Nana Akufo-Addo has taken schools, colleges, universities and vocational training to heart.

The education sector was at the heart of the government agenda right from its first day in office in 2017. All Ghanaians are benefiting from this sector, whether directly or indirectly. The government has spent GHC2.429 billion on making free senior high school education available to all children in Ghana. This scheme alone has benefited 1.2 million Ghanaians and their families. The School Feeding Programme this year has cost GHC470 million, and there have been more than 2.98 million beneficiaries. The double-track system, the best option with the resources available, has regulated secondary-level education admirably.

In its efforts to strengthen the telecommunications sector, the Akufo-Addo government has introduced coding at primary or basic-school level, with over 313,250 beneficiaries and free wifi to 722 senior high schools and 46 colleges of education. The teacher trainee allowance has 45,000 beneficiaries and there is a professional teacher allowance of GHC1,200 and GHC600 for non-teaching staff.

In the education sector alone 93,724 jobs have been created. A thousand one hundred and ninety school buses have been distributed. The Akufo-Addo government has built 2,699 school buildings, including classroom unit blocks and dormitories.

This is not to mention annual full scholarships for 40 people from disadvantaged zongo communities to study medicine in Cuba. The NPP government under Akufo-Addo has also offered 918 Ghanaians postgraduate medical scholarships.

Infrastructure

Besides the various infrastructural developments mentioned earlier, 69 markets have been built. The One Village, One Dam project, as promised to Ghanaians during the 2016 election campaign, and which some have sought to portray as a waste of taxpayers’ money, has proved itself worthwhile, serving peasant farmers during the dry season. Four hundred and thirty-nine dams have been constructed under it.

The One District, One Factory initiative has seen the light of day, with 232 operational and ongoing factories at a cost of GHC150.81 million. This shows that the government is not misusing the national treasury.

The road sector legacy debt of GHC6 billion has been repaid. GHC1.2 million has been pushed into road infrastructure. Four interchanges – the Obetsebi-Lamptey, Pokuase, Tema and Tamale projects – are already under construction. The Takoradi Interchange is yet to begin but will soon see the light of day.

Agriculture and livelihoods

The Akufo-Addo government has always supported the agrarian economy. Over 15 million seedlings have been distributed to Ghanaian farmers. Local cocoa processing has increased by 40% as the Akufo-Addo-led government has pumped US$600 million into this sector.

Rice production in Ghana has soared since 2016. This industry, with an allocation of GHC400 million by government this year under the Planting for Food and Jobs programme, is now 50% self-sufficient. This same Planting for Food and Jobs initiative has benefited a total of 1.9 million farmers, 257,000 of them from the Ashanti Region alone as of 2019.

The Economist Intelligence Unit, in its assessment of global food security, ranks Ghana 59th out 113 countries. Ghana ranks third in Africa for the presence of such quality food safety net programmes as Planting for Food and Jobs. Under Akufo-Addo, 5,000 outboard motors have been distributed to assist fishermen. Exports of food to neighbouring countries has risen by 56.6% and cocoa prices have increased by 8.42%, with a further 21% to come with the introduction of the Living Income Differential. The government has supplied 11,794 pieces of equipment for agricultural mechanisation.

Saving 4.6 million depositors from the financial crisis the banking sector faced, the swift action taken by the government also managed to save 10,000 bank jobs. The Livelihood Empowerment Against Poverty programme, which the Akufo-Addo government introduced, has given help to 1.45 million Ghanaians. The government has provided GHC4 million to support disabled entrepreneurs, plus GHC100 million this year alone to the Zongo Development Fund and the Microfinance and Small Loans Centre (MASLOC).

The Akufo-Addo government has created 778,706 jobs in the public sector, 267,939 in the formal private sector and 1,008,365 jobs under various government job-creation programmes. This makes a total of 2,055,010 jobs.

Quality of life for citizens has undoubtedly grown. In partnership with GCB Bank and GCB Securities, 250 housing units have been built under phase one of a project in Tema. The 2015 unemployment rate of 17% has dropped to 11%.

In 2010, the US$10 billion STX housing deal was cancelled. The 2013 Hope City Project, which was valued at another US$10 billion, never started. Where the previous government steadily chipped away at Ghana’s economy, today Ghana is the beneficiary of the discovery of an additional 550 million barrels of oil. The Bono East Solid Waste Treatment Facility is also under construction.

The National Entrepreneurship and Innovation Programme (NEIP), set up to provide support to start-ups and small businesses, has trained over 45,000 entrepreneurs, funded over 9,350 businesses and created over 92,000 jobs.

Energy

The great extrication of Ghana from her electricity crisis under the leadership of Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo saved the country from infrastructural chaos driving a coach and horses through her development plans. An aberrant leader who decided to besmirch the Presidency of the Republic once backed calls for an increase in utility tariffs if dumsor was to be avoided. As he said, “Blame God for dumsor dumsor.”

Well, leadership was not his knack, but at least he gave us the word “dumsor”. By giving Ghana an electricity generation capacity of 4,399MW – 1,580MW of hydroelectric power, 2,796MW of thermal power and 22.5 MW of renewables – the Akufo-Addo government has proved itself worthy. US$1,003 billion has been cleared from the energy sector legacy debt.

The NPP government has exhibited outstanding love for the Ghanaian people. It does not bear thinking about the conditions under which it ascended to the presidency on 7 January 2017. This is a government that has much more to offer Ghanaians. Its achievements are worthy of attention.

And all these are good reasons why Ghanaians must preserve a Ghana under an Akufo-Addo-led government in the December 2020 general election.

Palgrave Boakye-Danquah, executive director, Kandifo Institute
www.kandifoinstitute.org

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