Ghana's ranking in the World Bank's annual Doing Business 2007 survey (see View from the City p22) has helped to confirm an increasingly positive view about the country's economic prospects. Higher rates of economic growth have accompanied structural reforms in recent years, so Accra can take a great deal of comfort from the recent survey.
One of the most obvious areas of improvement in the Ghanaian investment environment has been the fall in corporation tax from 32.5% in 2004 to 28% in 2005 and 25% in 2006. The country's minister of finance and economic planning, Kwadwo Baah Wiredu, who is largely responsible for implementing the economic reform programme, also cited the automation of customs procedures as a major improvement in recent years. However, Baah Wiredu warned that more reforms are needed. He said: "We admit that there are a lot more bottlenecks in our business environment that need to be removed if Ghana is to successfully compete for global resources and to achieve our development objectives." Surveys can never entirely provide an accurate picture of economic developments in a country but they are one of the best tools available to compare the performance of African economies. Ghana was still ranked just 94th out of 175 countries in terms of the attractiveness of doing business but it has moved up eight places since last year's survey, at a time when most other economies are also making progress, so the results should be welcomed.
As in many other African states, the post-independence euphoria soon descended into a long period of despondent realism. Annual growth in GDP averaged a paltry 0.2% between 1975 and 2001, rising to a still weak average of 1.9% between 1990 and 2001. Since then, annual GDP growth has risen steadily from 3.7% in 2000 to 5.9% in 2005, more than outstripping population growth. As a result, the rate of increase of real GDP per capita has risen from 1.2% in 2000 to 3.2% in 2005. If this rate can be sustained, or even increased, then it should provide genuine benefits in terms of increased standards of living.
The latest IMF report on Ghana in September also painted Ghana's economic health in glowing terms. Samuel Itam, senior adviser in the IMF's African Department, issued the following statement: "Since 2000, Ghana's economic performance has been very satisfactory. At the current pace, the Millennium Development Goal of halving income poverty by 2015 should be...