Rhetoric versus reality.

Author:Raji, Rafiq
Position:Around Africa: Ghana - President Nana Akufo-Addo's campaign promise of rapid industrialization and massive job growth

Nana Akufo-Addo, Ghana's President, rode to election victory on a wave of slogans that promised rapid industrialisation and a massive growth in jobs. But two years on, how much, if any progress on these pledges has been made? Rafiq Raji discusses.

Nana Akufo-Addo, the president of Ghana, is a great speaker. People listen in awe to his speeches, marvelling at his mastery of language. He defeated an incumbent to the coveted position he now occupies with relative ease but his oratory was not all that won the votes of the majority of his compatriots.

He sold a dream of an industrialised Ghana that would look 'beyond aid' for development. At the time, during the campaigns and after he was sworn into office, analysts wondered just how realistic his 'One district, one factory', 'One village, one dam' proposals were.

Still, the citizens bought the dream with relish. And to his credit, he was not just selling a dream--he meant to realise it.

This is not the first time such an experiment would be attempted in Ghana. Kwame Nkrumah, Ghana's first President, had a similar vision and he too was determined to make it come true. Yet, as history informs us, even the planned economies such as China which initially underpinned the policies, have had the wisdom of allowing market forces to determine certain things.

It seems the lesson has filtered through. Yofi Grant, chief executive of the Ghana Investment Promotion Centre, told the UK's Financial Times in September 2017, that "this time around it's going to be private-sector driven, with government only playing a facilitatory role."

What is the progress report two years later? Speaking to the Financial Times in October 2018, Joyce Awuku-Darko Osei, head of the transformation unit at the Finance Ministry, which prepared the current government's Ghana Beyond Aid development framework, said poor co-ordination is one reason why progress has been slow.

"Only 600 of more than 1,000 factory proposals have been evaluated," she explained. Elaborating on Akufo-Addo's slogans, she said: "The idea is that private businesses can request government assistance (feeder roads, power supply, access to credit, etc) to make factories viable."

Still, how likely is it that there would be an industrial venture worthy of investors' capital in every district? What do analysts think?

Malte Liewerscheidt, vice-president for West Africa at Teneo Intelligence in London, told New African that "at about half-time of Akufo-Addo's first...

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