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Ghana is looking up and leadership is half the reason!


Visit of European leaders results in traffic gridlock


By Richard Mammah

Leadership is many things. As Africa’s 55 heads of states returned to their home countries after participating in the 83-state EU-AU parley in Abidjan on Thursday, residents of Accra, had to bear an additional burden. Like the proverbial Queen of Sheba somewhat, three European leaders who had heard of the seeming giant strides that had lately been recorded in the Ghanaian economy insisted on not returning without seeing things for themselves!

The visiting European leaders were French President, Emmanuel Macron, Dutch Prime Minister, Mark Rutte and Estonian President, Khersty Kaljulaid.

Some two years ago, Ghana, which had before then scored a West African first in recent times when it celebrated one year of uninterrupted power supply, had suffered huge bouts of power shortages and other attendant economic dislocations. This was indeed so notorious that entertainment personalities like Yvonne Nelson and Sarkodie, in concert with several civil society activists derisively labelled the situation, ‘Dumsor’ (translated: off and on) and organised massive demonstrations to showcase their outrage.

As is to be expected, the political opposition cashed in on this and other expressions of discontent and the John Mahama administration was ousted at the December 2016 polls.

It is the work that the resultant administration of incumbent President Nana Akuffo Addo has been doing that is now attracting global interest. And though an imperfect one yet, it is however coming out with some positive lessons that other African nations would need to learn from.

The elections are over!

As soon as Akuffo Addo was announced as winner of the polls, his transition team immediately went to work. And hours after his inauguration, his ministerial list was out. He hit the ground running.

Not just that, the new President, who had spent a lot of time during the campaigns denouncing ‘the corruption and cluelessness’ of his predecessor, immediately put a lot of that behind him and adopted a relatively pragmatic approach to governance going forward. One of the positive fall-outs here was the excellent cooperation between his Attorney-General and the Attorney-General in the previous administration which helped the former Gold Coast in winning back disputed oil wells on account of a suit over maritime boundaries with neighbouring Cote d’ Ivoire.

Growth is first internal, and then from your immediate neighbours

As soon as President Akufo Addo came into office, he moved to lower interest rates. Yes, the inflation figures were already high but he reasoned quite correctly that without a continuing growth impetus, any successes recorded on that turf would at best only be Pyrrhic. The result is that the economy has begun to grow again in the seven per cent band. And in the proposals for the 2018 budget, electricity tariffs are projected to come down even as supply as since improved.

As for his neighbours, Akuffo Addo embarked on a regional shuttle diplomacy, visiting as much as 10 fellow West African states. And the benefits from these engagements are also coming in now.

Is Ghana a paradise now? Not at all. But even as the morning shows the day, the truth is that if the current level of pragmatism is sustained, then Nan Akuffo Addo and his team only need to watch out for the familiar ‘demons of ‘second term at all costs,’ cronyism and nepotism that can throw obdurate cogs in the current national wheel of progress. And that will indeed be a pity.

Meanwhile, it is news of the fairly impressive strides that have been recorded by the current administration in less than two years in office that is attracting interest the world over and which ‘made motorists on streets connecting to 37 Military Hospital in Accra to be held in traffic for well over an hour following visits to Ghana by the three European leaders on Thursday. ‘

And now, Ghana has a good problem: to consider further investments in its road infrastructure. And if the experience of the summit’s hosts, Cote d’ Ivoire is anything to go by, it is clear that there are tonnes of capital only looking for relatively well-managed states to find their berth. And this is the lesson other African leaders must take home now. Do not eat your seed: invest pragmatically in your national patrimony and the harvest will come!

Ghana’s President, Nana Akufo-Addo

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