SEATTLE — In November 2017, Ghana’s President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo surprised an audience at a routine joint press conference with French President Emmanuel Macron. In response to a question about whether France would increase aid to Ghana, President Akufo-Addo declared that Ghana would no longer tie itself to foreign aid. This pledge was nothing new for the president though. In March 2017, just over two months after taking office, President Akufo-Addo spoke at the 5th Africa CEOs Forum, President Akufo-Addo said, “We want to build a Ghana beyond aid; a Ghana which looks to the use of its own resources.”
Ghana Beyond Aid
The phrase “Ghana Beyond Aid” has since come to stand for an entire initiative for the development of national resources designed to bring more people out of poverty and into prosperity. “Ghana Beyond Aid” is not supposed to mean that Ghana will no longer accept aid of any kind; instead, it is meant as an appeal to Ghanaian citizens and businesses to focus on building their own nation’s industries to reduce poverty. In the words of Richard Carey, senior advisor to the African Center for Economic Transformation, Ghana Beyond Aid “seeks to create, in effect, a new social contract between governments and their peoples.”
On February 19, 2019, the president received specific guidelines for the Ghana Beyond Aid initiative devised by a charter committee comprised of 13 members. The committee was chaired by Senior Minister Yaw Osafo Maafo and written with the input of 30 institutions from the spheres of academia and business. The roadmap re-emphasizes the four main priorities of the Ghana Beyond Aid initiative.
The Four Main Priorities of the Ghana Beyond Aid Initiative
- Industrialization: Ghana has long been known for its abundant natural resources, including cocoa, gold, oil and bauxite (an aluminum ore). But its economy has long depended on the export of these resources, not the refinement or use of them. Ghana Beyond Aid, specifically the One District, One Factory program, seeks to change this fact by helping refineries in each district open and expand. The government predicts that One District, One Factory will create between 1.5 and 3.2 million jobs by the end of 2020. In the words of President Akufo-Addo: “If we simply ground and sold the cocoa in paste form, instead of selling the cocoa beans, we double our earnings. In much the same way as we would double our earnings from gold if we sold it refined than in its raw state. We are determined to process these products.”
- Agriculture: Another important prong of the Ghana Beyond Aid initiative involves the improvement of Ghana’s agricultural capacity. This attempt depends mainly on two programs: “One Village, One Dam,” and “Planting for Food and Jobs.” The One Village, One Dam program will create dozens of dams in the northern regions of the country in the hopes of providing water for irrigation year-round. The government has set aside 94.5 million Ghanaian cedis for this purpose. Planting for Food and Jobs aims to encourage more Ghanaians to take up farming and also aims to provide existing farmers with more resources. It gives farmers a 50 percent subsidy on high-quality seeds, fertilizers and monitoring technology, as well as modern marketing platforms for selling produce. According to Owusu Afriyie Akoto, Ghanaian Minister for Food and Agriculture, the program has already led to the production of at least 485,000 tons of maize, 179,000 tons of rice and 45,200 tons of vegetables more than what would have been produced otherwise. This produce and the profit from it can go a long way towards reducing hunger and poverty in Ghana.
- Corruption: The last two pillars of the Ghana Beyond Aid initiative are broader but just as important. They involve reducing corruption and improving education, both of which are crucial to making the most out of other programs. Without tackling corruption, agricultural and industrial gains could disappear into the pockets of politicians. The efforts to end corruption mostly involve efforts to better monitor the government. This means more forms of identification from physical ID cards for government employees to digital business registrations. They also involve the appointment of an independent special prosecutor to investigate corruption.
- Education: Without tackling education, citizens may not be able to take full advantage of these new programs. Ghana seeks to create an educated workforce for the country’s success. Through education, Ghana can truly be “Beyond Aid” in the future. Educational changes, for now, come down to plans for free senior high school and saving resources to provide jobs for tomorrow’s youth.
The Ghana Beyond Aid initiative serves many purposes for Ghanaians. It is a matter of dignity just as much as it is a matter of economics. But perhaps most importantly, Ghana Beyond Aid is designed to provide the money, jobs and raw materials to reduce poverty nationwide.
– Eric Rosenbaum