By John P. Frinjuah and Josephine Appiah-Nyamekye
Corruption is a wicked problem that permeates every fabric of Ghanaian society, especially the public sector. Over the years, Ghana has fared dismally in its fight against corruption. In fact, the country has dropped consistently in recent years in rankings by anti-corruption and transparency bodies, including Transparency International and the Ibrahim Index of African Governance. If we do not see a renewed commitment to the fight against corruption – especially political corruption – the country risks reversing the gains made over the years in democracy, good governance, and development.
What do Ghanaians say about corruption?
The latest Afrobarometer findings on popular perceptions of corruption in Ghana mirror those of Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index 2016 and the Ibrahim Index of African Governance 2017. Overwhelming majorities of Ghanaians see “some,” “most,” or “all” public – and private – sector officials as corrupt. The perception is worst for officials in the public sector, with the police seen as the most corrupt group: 92% of citizens say at least “some” police officials are corrupt, including 59% who say “most” or “all” are corrupt. The president and his office do better than other public officials, but still, more than three-fourths of citizens perceive at least some corruption there (see Figure 1).
This leadership morass is not limited to state officials. Even traditional and religious leaders are seen as corrupt by substantial numbers of Ghanaians – a surprise given the trust society places in them and the moral high ground on which they are expected to stand.
Figure 1: Perceived corruption in the public and private sectors | Ghana | 2017
Although popular perceptions of the overall level of corruption in the country have increased since 2014, a majority (60%) of Ghanaians now express approval of the new government’s efforts to combat corruption, a significant improvement compared to the 25% recorded in 2014 (see Figure 2). This approval could be explained as a combination of people’s hope that the new NPP government – which came to power on a ticket of anti-corruption and economic resuscitation – checks the menace of corruption and honours its electoral promise to the people.
Figure 2: Government’s performance in fighting corruption | Ghana | 2002-2017
Media reports and personal conversations suggest that the Ghanaian electorate and burgeoning middle class are increasingly unhappy about the high level of corruption, lack of accountability, and economic mismanagement that have bedeviled the country. Afrobarometer data confirm that they are eager to see stiff punishment meted out to perpetrators of such acts. Almost two-thirds (64%) of Ghanaians want corrupt officials prosecuted and, if found guilty, forced to return stolen funds, jailed, and publicly named and shamed. About one-fifth (22%) favour government retrieval of stolen funds without prosecution, while one in 10 (9%) would opt for prosecution without retrieval of stolen funds (see Figure 3).
Figure 3: Appropriate punishment for corrupt officials | Ghana | 2017
In its one year in office, the NPP government has taken some steps in that direction, including the setting up of the Special Prosecutor’s office. Ghanaians want more than just lip service. With alleged fraud cases[ii] such as the BOST premix scandal, arson of the Central Medical Stores in an attempt to cover evidence of fraud, and the Ministry of Special Development Initiative’s 800,000 cedi website saga, government will need to live up to its pledges to crack the whip of justice against corrupt officials, irrespective of their political inclination.
[i] Links to corruption perceptions rankings:
[ii] Links to stories on corruption cases:
The Square Kilometre Array (SKA) is the world’s largest radio telescope project, which will collect data over one million square kilometres from radio astronomy telescopes on the African and Australian continents. In the long run the two-phased SKA could possibly help scientists answer questions in astrophysics, cosmology and fundamental physics.
Phase one of the project entailed setting radio telescopes in South Africa and Australia. Phase two will include more telescopes being added by partner countries, New Zealand and the eight African countries namely: Botswana, Ghana, Kenya, Mauritius, Madagascar, Mozambique, Namibia and Zambia. The full array should be up and running by 2030, but the first phase is expected to be operational by 2023. The launch of Ghana’s radio telescope is a critical part of this process. Dr Bernard Duah Asabere explained its significance.
How did Ghana get involved in the project and how does it fit in?
Ghana has had a redundant satellite communication antenna in Kutunse – a suburb 25 kilometres north-west of the capital, Accra.
Between 2011 and 2017 this antenna has been undergoing refurbishment for use as a radio astronomy telescope. At the end of the first engineering phase, the refurbished telescope is capable of participating in global network observations using a technique known as Very Long Baseline Interferometry (VLBI). It also be used in single dish or standalone operational mode.
Interferometry is a technique in which collections of telescopes scattered over a large area function as a single radio telescope. The Very Long Baseline Interferometry technique is most well-known for:
imaging distant cosmic radio sources,
tracking spacecraft, and
for applications in astrometry.
But the technique can also measure the time differences between the arrival of radio waves from separate antennas to the same source in the sky. This helps astronomers get a better image resolution of an object or a region in the universe.
Put simply, if different telescopes at different locations are all tuned to observe the same source in the sky at the same time, astronomers can get fine details of the specific object being observed.
The countries that make up the African SKA project are each building their own radio telescopes or converting redundant telecommunication dishes so that they function as a network known as the African VLBI Network (AVN).
Ghana now becomes the first country in the African SKA partners besides South Africa to have a telecommunication antenna converted to realise the African VLBI Network. With Ghana’s telescope now operational, it means that South Africa and Ghana will be able to do joint observations. When the other seven African SKA partner countries get theirs ready, they will join the African’s network.
Kenya, Mozambique and Zambia are contending to add the next telescope to the network.
How did we know the Ghanaian telescope was ready and what will it do?
Across the globe there are several very long base interferometry networks: Europe has one, as does Australia and America. Any telescope across the world is able to join an observation in one of these networks.
After Ghana re-engineered the antenna into a functional radio astronomy telescope, it needed to do a science commissioning of the facility to see if the refurbishment was successful and it could track and observe astronomical sources in the sky and join international observations.
When Ghana tested its telescope it was able to detect methanol masers, observe pulsars and also succeeded in participating in an observation with 15 other telescopes which form part of the European very long base interferometry network.
Until now South Africa has been the only country on the continent that had been joining in VLBI observations with other countries’ networks because it was the only country with a radio telescope on the continent.
With radio telescopes in Ghana and South Africa, an African network is now given birth to. Aside being a part of the African network, Ghana could join other telescopes on the globe to do science observations.
What is the significance of Ghana’s telescope for astronomy in Africa?
There are many celestial objects to observe in the Universe: planets, masers, galaxies, meteorites, stars and even regions in the sky. And there are global questions that astronomy community is interested in addressing. This includes questions like: is there any life outside earth? Are there other stars that are as prominent as the sun? How did the universe come into being? These are questions that the SKA will attempt to address.
If Africa has its own network, astronomers on the continent can choose what celestial objects and regions it wants to observe.
If we look at most of the existing telescopes across the world, there has been a hole in Africa. Telescopes situated in the Northern hemisphere are unable to see the region of the sky in the southern hemisphere. With an African very long base interferometry network set up, astronomers in Africa can now observe both the northern and southern hemispheres of the sky from the continent.
What is Ghana bringing to the party and what does it hope to get out of this SKA collaboration?
The facility at Kutunse will be used as a science instrument but also as a training facility. Ghana will help the other seven countries that form part of the African network refurbish their unused antennae.
Although this technology is not new and has been done in Australia, Peru, Japan and the UK, no other country in Africa has done this.
For Ghana, developing the skills, regulations and institutional capacity in the partner countries is a vital part of building the square kilometre array on the continent over the next decade. This is because it will optimise African participation in the SKA.
Ghana will build it robust research community in a field never before accessible to the country.
But there is also the prospect of improving the radio astronomy capacity in the country. Ghana’s radio astronomy development strategy forms part of the broader Ghana Science, Technology and Innovation Development Plan.
The lack of a centralised form of data that securities industry players can connect to get information about the transaction records of clients is a great challenge to fighting systemic risk.
Mr Kwabena Boamah, Chief Investment Officer of STANLIB Ghana Limited, said the absence of such data or information among financial market players allowed individuals and institutions to undertake multiple borrowing transactions thereby over exposing lending firms when their businesses collapsed or failed.
“So when we talked about systemic risk we are looking at a situation where one small failure leads to a broader impact that can bring down a whole firm and once that whole firm goes down it has ripple effects on other institutions,” he said in an interview at the 2017 Ghana Securities Industry Association’s Capital Market Week Seminar.
“That is what leads to systemic risk because we don’t have information that will help industry players make good investment decisions,” he added.
Mr Boamah said data and disclosure were so critical to help institutions to manage the risk because it would allow them to be able to cap the limit to the individuals and institutions to avoid a ripple effect when they blew up or one person failed them.
“Lack of data and lack of disclosure make it difficult to manage systemic risk and that is what actually leads to it because the institutions are not able to cap the limit to the financial institution and when they blow up or one person fails then it begins to have a ripple effect on any other person,” he said.
Aside the lack of data and disclosure, one thing about systemic risk was also the credit due diligence process, saying that the kind of robust or skills that the people in the institutions had to be able to access risk appropriately was important to manage the risk. He said the ability to access the risk was important to managing the risk, adding that if the ‘credit due process or the skills set was not strong it became difficult for an institution to be able to access the level of risk and to plan for it.’ Mr Boamah said in some instances institutions failed to do detail analysis because of the over confidence about the performance of the company.
“Another thing about systemic risk is when we begin to have that notion that an institution is too big to fail and probably to a large extent in the country it would be more of too trusting, that a financial institution is doing everything right and that they are not going to fail and instead of undertaking proper due diligence on them we rather renege on those due processes,” he said.
He stressed the need for capacity building of persons who handle the credit and evaluation processes to enable them develop the appropriate skill sets and the knowhow to end risk in the bud.
There is also the need to strengthen corporate governance since adherence to proper procedures by firms and institutions would in itself diversify systemic risk and bring about some soundness in the financial markets.
“Beyond the corporate risk and corporate governance we have the individuals themselves. It is time for strong ethical professionals who can put their work on the line because they believe in certain values and would not do certain things no matter what the board is saying they would hold on to those restrictions,” he added.
The Ghana Tourism Authority (GTA) has upped it effort at making sure that operators in the hospitality industry meet set standards as the nation aggressively pushes towards raising more revenue from tourism.
Nana Twum Barima, its Director of Research, Statistics and Information, said they were determined to go the extra mile to ensure that the operations of industry players were consistent with globally acceptable standards.
This, he said, was vital as the Authority worked hard to boost tourism arrivals – positioned Ghana as preferred tourist destination. He was addressing a meeting held with hoteliers, restaurant operators and car rental services in Kumasi on the “Tourism Single Window Project” and “Information Technology Compliance Survey”.
The goal, he said, was to closely monitor their activities, so that the right things were done.
Nana Twum Barima indicated that tourism development could bring enormous benefits to the economy – create job opportunities and wealth for the people. That was why everything should be done to keep the sector on the path of growth, he added.
Mr. Alex Boakye, Director, Quality Assurance, said the introduction of the ‘service charter’ was meant to assure clients of efficient service delivery. He added that it was the way forward to make Ghana the leading tourist destination in West Africa.
The GTA, he said, was eager to see substantial increase in domestic tourism and was working towards that.
A ruling by the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea will keep Tullow Oil Plc’s offshore fields under Ghana’s jurisdiction following the end of a boundary dispute with Ivory Coast.
The Tweneboa, Enyenra and Ntomme fields, which hold an estimated 2 billion barrels of oil and 1.2 trillion cubic feet of natural gas, will remain with the West African nation after a decision by the Hamburg-based tribunal on Saturday, Tullow said in an emailed statement. The new boundary deviates little from Ghana’s claim for its border with Ivory Coast, according to three people familiar with the matter, who asked not to be identified because they’re not authorized to speak in public.
The ruling will remove “doubt anyone had about the boundary, because that is clear now,” Tullow Oil Ghana Managing Director Charles Darku told reporters in the capital, Accra. “Anyone that wants to work around investing in that area should see their way clear.”
TEN’s output will be maintained at 50,000 barrels a day until the end of the year, Darku said. The London-based explorer owns 47.2 percent of the fields, while Kosmos Energy Ltd. and Anadarko Petroleum Corp. each own 17 percent. Ghana National Petroleum Corp. holds 15 percent and PetroSA the rest.
Ghana didn’t violate Ivory Coast’s sovereign rights by using the field, Judge Boualem Bouguetaia said as he read the tribunal’s ruling ion the courtroom.
Tullow will work with the Ghana government to get the necessary permits to allow the restart of drilling at the fields by the end of the year, Darku said. The floating production storage and offloading vessel at TEN has a design capacity of 80,000 barrels a day.
Boakye Agyarko, Ghana’s energy minister, confirmed by text that the country will retain control over the fields. The ruling is a relief for Ghana, which is relying on oil revenue to boost economic growth and ease its budget deficit.
Vice President Dr Mahamudu Bawumia said the trade and industrialisation programme of Government forms part of a Free Continental Trade Agreement agenda with the objective of creating a single market for goods and services.
He said Ghana would soon enjoy the privileges under the Trade Agreement that would ensure free movement of business persons to enhance investment. In addition, it would promote intra African trade through better harmonisation, coordination and facilitation regimes.
Vice President Bawumia said this at the closing ceremony of the Second Edition of the National Policy Summit organised by the Ministry of Information in Accra on Tuesday.
The two-day Summit, which featured the Ministry of Trade and Industry, was on the theme: “The Industrial Transformation of Ghana”. It brought together captains of industry, members of Parliament, the diplomatic community, policy think tanks, entrepreneurs and youth groups to deliberate on government policies and solicit inputs to ensure sustained growth and economic development.
The Vice President said the Free Continental Trade Agreement would resolve the challenges of multiple and overlapping memberships in regional economic groups and enhance competitiveness at the industry and enterprise levels.
He said businesses and governments in Africa were supposed to take advantage of the Agreement by exploiting opportunities of the economics of scale, access to continental market and better re-allocation of resources across the Continent.
The Trade Agreement, the Vice President said, would bring to fruition a resolution passed by the 18th Ordinary Session of the Assembly of the Heads of States and Governments of the African Union held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia in January 2012, which enjoined African countries to facilitate trade with each other.
He expressed satisfaction about the level of participation by the private sector since that demonstrates confidence in the Government’s industrial transformational agenda. Vice President Bawumia said the Summit was in line with the Government’s agenda of opening up spaces for dialogue and being a listening facilitator by using bottom-up approaches for policy formulation and decision-making.
“We know that we don’t have all the ideas and solutions that is why we have to constantly dialogue and interact,” he said.
“Even with the level of the Economic Management Team and with its powerful members, we regularly called on the private sector to dialogue on policies to get their views before we take certain decisions since this is the best way we can pursue our 10-point industrial development agenda,” he said. The Vice President said the Ministry of Trade and Industry, in the coming months, would start engaging stakeholders and sensitise the business community on the Continental Free Trade Agreement.
“We need your inputs; we want to encourage you to expand your perspectives on the emerging Africa. We, as government, will continue to engage in dialogue. In the end, it is your bold and entrepreneurial skills and your competitiveness that would determine how far and how much Ghana can take advantage of opportunities of Continental Free Trade,” he noted.
Ghana fully participated in the 16th Africa Growth and Opportunities Act (AGOA) Forum held in Lome, Togo, from August 7-10, 2017 under the theme: “United States and Africa, Partnering for Prosperity through Trade”.
AGOA is a strategic framework through which Ghana seeks to expand bilateral trade and investment with the United States and it provides a duty free and quota free access to the US market. The Scheme was renewed in 2015 for another 10 years till 2025.
Vice President Bawumia said Government must take advantage of that preferential market and effectively utilise the Scheme by working together with the private sector and providing the needed interventions as stipulated under the AGOA.
On the Ghana International Trade Commission (GITC) Act, the Vice President said the Commission would help to regularise international trade in conformity with the rules and regulations of the world trade system.
He said the Commission would look into complaints by the private sector in matters of subsidies of imported products by foreign governments, dumping of such products onto the domestic market, tariff adjustment, settlement of disputes between importers and the Customs Division of the Ghana Revenue Authority and any measure that affected fair trade.
Government, in the coming days, would inaugurate the Commission in order to deal with fair trade issues and enhance the competitiveness of the private sector in contributing to the industrial transformation agenda of the country.
As Ghana looks to diversify its sources of foreign exchange, it has aggressive plans to expand its tourism capacity, with an ambitious proposal for coastline development on the table and an expansion of the main international airport under way.
Tourism was one of the big winners in Ghana’s 2017 budget, handed down by the minister of finance, Ken Ofori-Atta, in early March. The Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture saw its allocation rise from GHS38.9m ($9.2m) in 2016 to GHS43.9m ($10.4m).
In a speech accompanying the release of the spending plan, Ofori-Atta also outlined plans to increase the private sector’s involvement in the sector.
This engagement is necessary if the country’s economic aims are to be met: Ghana is currently working to reduce a budget deficit equal to 8.7% of GDP, roughly three percentage points higher than the target, which means the state increasingly needs to turn to private investment to fund capital projects in key areas like tourism.
Ghana’s tourism industry is already a key contributor to the national economy, ranking fourth in terms of input, after oil, gold and cocoa. According to the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC), the sector directly accounted for around 3% of GDP in 2016, with its total contribution rising to 7.1%, in addition to directly and indirectly employing 5.6% of the workforce.
The council expects Ghana’s tourism industry to expand by 5.6% in 2017 and maintain an annual rate of growth rate of 5.1% through to 2027.
Mega-projects and niche developments
Perhaps the most visible initiative where the state is looking for private sector buy-in is a major redevelopment of sections of Accra’s coastline. Known as the Marine Drive Tourism Investment Project, the plan involves developing nearly 100 ha of land along the shoreline of Ghana’s capital city between the Osu Castle beach front and the Centre for National Culture.
Among the proposed amenities are hotels, shopping malls, theme parks, an office complex and a casino.
The development was initially proposed by the former government and ratified by the Cabinet last October. It is being overseen by the Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture, with projects to be rolled out as public-private partnerships (PPPs) over the course of this year. According to Ofori-Atta, the initiative is a key part of the current government’s policy, which has a particular focus on growing the business tourism segment.
The push to expand private sector participation is not limited to large projects. Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) operating in the tourism sector also fared well in the new spending plan. Ofori-Atta told Parliament the Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture would conduct investment feasibility studies this year on promoting SMEs through PPPs.
Bid to strengthen air links
Ghana is also moving to bolster its transport infrastructure to improve connectivity and increase visitor figures.
Expansion work on a third terminal at Accra’s Kotoka International Airport started in March of last year and is expected to be completed by July, allowing the airport to handle an extra 5m passengers a year, with the capacity to handle up to 1250 passengers an hour.
This would represent a significant increase on the most recent figures from the Ghana Airports Company Limited (GACL), which showed that 2.19m passengers used the airport in 2015, with international travellers accounting for 1.67m of the total. The 45,000-sq-metre terminal – designed for international traffic – will comprise a large retail area, three business lounges and seven air bridges, as well as parking for more than 700 cars, according to the GACL.
In what could be a further boost for the industry, the new government has also announced plans for a flag carrier, utilising a PPP model. Such a move would fill a void dating to 2010, when Ghana International Airlines – the country’s second iteration of a national airline, following the closure of Ghana Airways in 2005 – ceased operations.
If viable, a new airline could be operational by 2019, Abena Dapaah, minister for aviation, said in February. The government has previously announced it will not finance the venture but will request carried interest. Press reports have indicated a number of foreign carriers have expressed interest in bidding for the project, although there has yet to be any official confirmation.
- This Ghana economic update was produced by Oxford Business Group.
Black Africa’s first independent nation celebrated its 60th independence anniversary this week. A pioneer in many ways, Ghana was the first country in sub Saharan Africa to secure independence from Britain on March 6, 1957.
Ghana’s post-independence experience is also in many ways the African post-colonial story. President Kwame Nkrumah was a founding member of the Organisation of African Unity, the precursor to the African Union. He was also the most influential voice in the Pan-African movement in the early years of independence.
The Pan-Africanist flame burnt brightest at the height of agitation for independence, drawing in the likes of Kenneth Kaunda of Zambia, Jomo Kenyatta of Kenya, Hastings Kamuzu Banda of Malawi and Julius Nyerere of Tanzania. But the Pan-Africanist rhetoric was soon extinguished as its leaders secured independence for their countries.
Ghana’s anniversary is well worth celebrating. Over the last six decades Ghana has transitioned from military dictatorships to a well functioning democracy while it’s economy has seen both boom and near bust. Its story offers both lessons and hope that Africa can fashion its own dignified path to peace and democracy.
The early decades
Nkrumah’s vision for Ghana was founded on the nationalist demands that drove agitation against colonialism. He sought to steer his young country to significant progress in health and education. Also on the new leader’s agenda were other social and economic issues confronting the country.
This vision was embedded in his seven-year development plan presented to parliament on March 11, 1964. In his view, the 1963-1970 plan would ultimately,
bring Ghana to the threshold of a modern state based on a highly organised and efficient agricultural and industrial programme.
Nkrumah believed he could completely obliterate the dependency-driven colonial economy he inherited which reduced Ghana to an importer of finished goods sold at exorbitant prices and exporter of raw materials bought cheaply. In its place would be an industrialised economy modelled along a socialist production and distribution system which would make Ghana self-sufficient and self-reliant.
But we will never know what all his success would have looked like. Nkrumah’s vision was cut short by a pro-western military coup in 1966. The planning of it was known to the US which considered Nkrumah a significant threat to its interests in Africa.
The acting special assistant for National Security Affairs R.W. Komer praised the coup as
…another example of a fortuitous windfall. Nkrumah was doing more to undermine our interests than any other black African.
Some 50 years after his overthrow, however, Nkrumah remains a household name in Ghana because of his investments in education, health and energy. Many of his contributions to other important sectors, such as the building of the Akosombo Dam, the Accra-Tema Motorway, the Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital, University of Cape Coast, continue to support the economy today.
Nkrumah’s overthrow in 1966 was followed by four military takeovers in 1972, 1978, 1979 and 1981. Two democratically elected governments established in 1969 and 1979 were overthrown by the military. Eventually, the current succession of democratic elections was established in 1993.
In its early years Ghana’s flirtation with socialism dominated its politics. However, the civilian governments that followed steered the country onto a capitalist economic path in which the Bretton Woods institutions often dictated the pace.
But the country has been unable to achieve the envisioned self-reliant and self-sufficient economic policies. But it’s not all gloom and doom.
Democracy success story
Ghana has made remarkable progress as one of the success stories in Africa’s democratic project over the past 25 years. Political power has changed three times – all important milestones;
from the ruling National Democratic Congress (NDC) to the New Patriotic Party (NPP) in 2001;
from the ruling NPP to the NDC in 2009; and
from the ruling NDC back to the NPP in January, 2017.
Ghanaians have cast aside the authoritarian politics of the past. In its place is expanded political space which has helped to shape and broaden the frontiers of rights. Free speech and association is guaranteed, civil society organisations have greater influence over policy making and media is free to perform its gate-keeping.
It’s no coincidence that Ghana has emerged as one of the most peaceful nations on the globe. According to the 2016 Global Peace Index, Ghana – ranked 44th – is more peaceful than France – ranked 46th – and the United Kingdom – ranked 47th positions.
A nation in good health
Ghana has also made progress in numerous measures of well-being, especially poverty reduction and the provision of health and education is exemplary. It’s among the few countries around the world that have recorded significant reduction in poverty.
The health care scorecard is one of the most impressive in sub-Saharan Africa too. Ghana is one of the few countries with a universal health insurance scheme. And there’s a great deal to show from investments in the health sector. The country ranked 7th out of 153 countries on measles immunisation between 1990 and 2008, and while the regional average of measles vaccination rate stood at 75%, Ghana recorded 91%.
But many challenges remain.
Yo-yo economic growth
Economic growth has been swinging like a pendulum. Over a decade ago the country’s economy was growing at 7%, then roaring ahead with a growth rate of over 14% in 2011. Since then growth has declined considerably. In 2015 it expanded by just 4%.
Currently, Ghana is under an IMF bail-out programme because of its inability to contain its huge budget deficit, rising inflation and falling currency.
The jury is still out on whether the country can turn its economic fortunes around again. Unemployment rates are alarmingly high – at an estimated 48% – and the country faces a power crisis, high depreciation of the currency and high interest rates.
Nevertheless, Ghana is still very much the rising star in some spheres – just struggling in others like many of its African peers.