The 6th of March, 2017 marked exactly 60 years since Ghana attained independence from British colonial rule. Indeed, 60 years in the life of a nation calls for sober reflection on her socio-economic development and trajectories. There is no gain-saying that Ghana's political history after independence has been characterised by economic fortunes and misfortunes. In spite of the challenges confronting us as a nation, it was deemed necessary to celebrate 60 years of nationhood which was graced by some leaders from the sub-region. Barely two months after the 60th anniversary celebration, President Akufo-Addo embarked on visits to neighbouring West African countries. Some social commentators have expressed concerns about the rationale for the President’s visits and the economic significance to the nation. One could readily recount about four distinct and essential benefits of the President’s foreign trips to the Ghanaian economy.
First, as tradition demands, it is imperative to reciprocate the kind gesture of one's neighbours. To this end, it is important for the President, to visit these African leaders to thank them for taking time off their busy national schedules to grace Ghana’s 60th independence anniversary and also formally introduce himself as the current Ghanaian Head of State.
Secondly, the President’s visit would help strengthen ties between Ghana and her neighbours. His physical presence in the neighbouring African countries would create the enabling environment for discussions on matters of mutual bilateral importance. In countries where international relations are under siege or on the verge of collapse, the visit would afford the leaders the opportunity to revive and strengthen those relations. The third benefit is that, the leading marketer of the Ghanaian economy to foreign investors is the President.
As a result, the visits to the neighbouring African countries present an opportunity for the Ghanaian leader to showcase Ghana’s investment opportunities and the strategic position of the country as a preferred destination for investors. Organising business fora during the visits would make it possible for investors to ask pertinent questions; and to receive cogent responses on the investment climate in Ghana. In 2017, the World Bank released statistics on the ease of doing business in 190 economies across the globe. Ghana ranked 108th in the world, 11th in Africa, and 1st in West Africa with regards to the ease of doing business. This implies the necessary fundamental policies have been formulated to facilitate business transactions in the country.
Perhaps, what requires constant improvement is the provision of infrastructural facilities such as good roads, adequate electricity and water supply to the nook and cranny of this country to ensure equitable distribution of companies and jobs to various areas in the economy.
Finally, President Akufo-Addo during interactions with Ghanaians in those African countries will be in position to update them on the country’s socio-economic developments and other government policies. Ghanaians resident in neighbouring African countries may also offer ideas useful to the advancement of the nation’s economic cause. This plays a monumental role in their resolve to remit regularly, and to make a firm decision on returning home to contribute to national progress.
Indeed, knowledge and wisdom are not the preserve of an individual or a government; together, we can build a better Ghana.
BY: EBENEZER M. ASHLEY (PHD). LEAD CONSULTANT / CEO EBEN CONSULTANCY FELLOW CHARTERED ECONOMIST & COUNCIL MEMBER, INSTITUTE OF CERTIFIED ECONOMISTS OF GHANA, ICEG.