• Monday, June 17, 2024
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Ghana at 65 and lessons for big brother Nigeria

Ghana at 65 and lessons for big brother Nigeria

As a social formation, Ghana may not have the demographic strength to show for its influence in global politics. Very much the same thing can be said for its GDP figures. At 65 years, it is arguably the oldest country in the West African subregion.

After becoming the first country to gain independence in 1957 in West Africa, early Ghanaian leaders played some roles that led to the independence of other countries within the region, including Nigeria. Indeed, the dictum of Kwame Nkrumah was that the independence of Ghana does not amount to much until the rest of Africa is free from colonial rule. Much later on, the Aburi Peace Accord on January 4 and 5, 1967, was another way in which the Ghanaian leaders tried to prevent the Nigerian Civil War from breaking out. But the worst did happen.

This may in the process, restore the country to the path of positive growth. But this will in turn depend partly on the lessons learnt from Ghana and whether Abuja is able to put those lessons to work.

However, it is on record that this small West African country did its best to ensure that Nigeria was spared the pangs of nationhood.

But all that history sits on shelves in different libraries accumulating dust, as Ghana is currently preoccupied with development pressures that have mounted due to years of frivolous spending of its commonwealth, corruption, and political instability. Matters have certainly been worsened by the incursion of the military into the country’s political space.

The soldiers proved to be as rapacious as their civilian counterparts. This could well have partly explained the poignant tone in Ayi Kwei Arma’s famous book: The Beautiful Ones Are Not Yet Born. Meanwhile, this pessimistic mood was complemented by another Ghanaian writer who penned: ‘This Earth My Brother.’

As if to validate the prophecies inherent in these works, Ghana as a country continues to falter economically.

Only in February 2022, the Ghanaian currency, Cedi, was adjudged the worst-performing currency in Africa, depreciating 7.6 percent against the US dollar. Although Nigeria’s Naira did not make the top three – coming in at sixth – the pressure it faces is very similar to the Cedi.

One of those pressures is a galloping inflation rate. Ghana’s inflation rate jumped to 12.6 percent in December from 12.2 percent in November, the highest level in almost five years. The high inflation and a highly volatile exchange have also contributed to increased cost of living and food items.

Despite being an oil-producing nation, citizens are not able to purchase petroleum products at affordable rates. The hike in the price of fuel has grown to an extent that commercial drivers in Kumasi are being compelled to buy the product on credit to make ends meet.

Also like Nigeria, Ghana’s education sector has also been facing a serious crisis. According to a report, 44,000 teachers out of 284,000 basic school teachers left the teaching profession in 2021 alone, representing a 15-percent growth and the highest in 20 years.

Some of the reasons given for the problems in education include inadequate funding. Poor funding to some basic schools even forced the head of the schools to borrow money in order to keep them running. Many of the public schools also lack learning materials, including textbooks.

While Ghana may look a lot like Nigeria in its current challenges, it also holds positive lessons in terms of the steps it is taking to fix some of the challenges. This much is evident in its democratic essence, as it is more stable. The political class is also more coherent. Moreover, its predatory dispositions are not as venal in comparison with what obtains here.

Nigeria can also learn some other positive lessons from Ghana. In terms of power generation where Nigeria falls flat, Ghana has moved very quickly from having too little generating capacity to too much. First, the government made concerted efforts to reduce dependency on the unreliable supply from the Akosombo Dam, which is akin to Nigeria’s ever unreliable national grid located in Oshogbo. Today, installed capacity stands at 5.08GW for a country with a population of 31.38 million.

Nigeria can also learn from Ghana’s innovative approach in attracting tourists. The Ghana Tourism Authority (GTA) and Ghana Immigration Service’s updated data on international arrivals show that 411,164 visitors arrived in the country by the end of the fourth quarter in 2021. Within the same period, 235,391 domestic visitors to tourism sites were recorded.

Read also: A decade of glitz in Ghana

The GTA is projecting an increase in international tourist arrivals to more than 550,000 this year, which will translate to 34.7 percent growth from last year. Of particular note here is the way in which Ghana has been able to tap into the energy of the black population in the United States of America.

She organised the Year of the Return. The event was so successful that Ghana is currently seen as the major homeland for most African Americans.

Meanwhile, the country is also a favourite destination for many foreign investors like: Google and Toyota. As if to add insult to injury, a number of manufacturers pull up their boots from here only to relocate to Ghana. It should be appreciated that there is no rocket science explanation for these developments. What obtains is that over time Accra has invested in the massive upgrading of its infrastructures. She is therefore currently reaping the benefits.

As Nigeria races to its 62 years independence anniversary on October 1, the fate of about 90 million Nigerians living below poverty line hangs in the balance. As the President Muhammadu Buhari government winds down, it will be a nice parting gift if before the country’s 62 years anniversary, smiles are put on the faces of the impoverished millions. This may in the process, restore the country to the path of positive growth. But this will in turn depend partly on the lessons learnt from Ghana and whether Abuja is able to put those lessons to work.

For Ghana, however, as the country turns 65, though she is something of a model for Nigeria and other African countries, still minimal room should be given for complacency. The country still has a long way to go in its quest to be a full member of the comity of developed nations.

However, as the country turns 65, we extend our congratulations to her. This is being done with a reminder that much more remains to be done by this West African country.