Ghana Beyond Aid—President Akufo-Addo charts the path, 61 years after Independence

By Sule N. Jotie


The statement ‘Ghana is blessed with a lot of natural resources.’ has now become a cliché. It has been used in many write-ups and conferences to highlight the natural wealth God gave Ghana which, if prudently exploited and managed, will lift Ghana beyond foreign aid.


Since the 1960s, the country has depended on aid from developing partners for her development.


African countries that gained independence in the 1950s and 60s were faced with many challenges—infrastructural deficit and lack of skilled labour, among others. To accelerate their development, the newly-independent African countries relied so much on assistance from their development partners to fund their development needs. As the Vice President Dr Mahamudu Bawumia rightly put it: “Development aid was born out of the need to accelerate post-colonial development. Aid (grants, loans and projects and technical assistance) was to help fill the savings-investment gap, the technical capacity gaps and the development finance gaps in order to promote growth and development.”


Indeed, Ghana falls among that group of African countries that have relied on foreign aid to fund its development since 1957, in spite of the country’s wealth in natural resources— cocoa, gold, timber, oil and gas, bauxite and manganese, among others.


On assumption of office on January 7, 2017, President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo eloquently espoused his government’s desire to prudently manage the country’s natural resources in a manner that will  allow the country’s development agenda to be financed without recourse to external assistance—an agenda the President refers to as building ‘Ghana beyond aid’.


At a roundtable meeting with selected Chief Executive Officers (CEOs) of leading African and international companies on the sideline of the 5th edition of the Africa CEOs forum in Switzerland, the President is quoted as saying: “We want to build a Ghana beyond aid; a Ghana which looks to the use of its own resources. We want to build an economy that is not dependent on charity and handouts, but an economy that will look at the proper management of its resources as the way to engineer social and economic growth in our country.”


In the view of this writer, the pronouncement is not mere rhetoric, as government has shown that; it is ready to build that ‘Ghana beyond aid.’




Evidence on the ground suggests that Government’s One District, One Factory project is encouraging investment across the length and breadth of Ghana, a positive sign of the beginnings of value addition to the country’s resources to move the economy from one reliant on production and export of raw material to a value-added industrialised economy.


In that regard, Ghana’s Cocoa, timber, gold, bauxite, diamond and manganese will have to be refined and value added before exportation by which more jobs would be created.


Undoubtedly, government is creating the enabling environment for the private sector to thrive. Asap Vasa Company Limited, Sahara Gold Refinery and Gold Coast Refinery Ghana Limited have already entered the refinery market and with a conducive business environment, it is expected others will follow.


In addition to mining, Government also intends to establish the relevant petro-chemical industries to take advantage of the growth of the oil and gas industry.


When President akufo-Addo delivered the keynote address at the National Governors Association 2018 Winter Meeting in Washington DC, United States of America, on Sunday, February 25, 2018, he indicated that the time had come for Ghana to develop strategic industries out of its abundant natural resources of bauxite and iron ore.


To that end, the President said his government was working towards the establishment of an Integrated Bauxite/Aluminium Development Authority to assemble the relevant financial resources for the systematic exploitation and development of our bauxite deposits.


In his resolve to industrialise the economy, President Akufo-Addo announced that Ghana’s substantial iron ore and manganese deposits, situated in the Western and Northern regions of the country, would be exploited to build an integrated steel industry to serve the needs of the country and region.


These are all testaments that the determination to build Ghana beyond aid is being practicalized beyond words.




Government launched the ‘Planting for Food and Jobs’ initiative last year with the aim of increasing food sufficiency, reducing food imports and creating jobs for the youth.


So far, the initiative has yielded positive results. According to the Minister for Food and Agriculture, Dr Owusu Afriyie Akoto, the use of labour, improved seeds and fertilizers combined with increased extension service delivery  had resulted in the production of an additional 485,000 metric tonnes of maize,179,000 metric tonnes of rice and 45,200 metric tonnes of vegetables with a total value of some GH¢1.2 billion.


It is also expected that under Government’s One Village, One Dam Policy, vast areas of the northern part of the country, which experience only…raining season, will become the food basket of the country. This is possible as the Sahel regions of West Africa, for example, which have the same conditions like northern Ghana, export fruits and vegetables to Ghana from irrigated farms.


Reducing corruption


Corruption has been the bane of Ghana’s development and the government has taken a bold step to reduce corruption to the barest minimum. Government has started the process to digitally transform Ghana through the issuance of national ID cards, digital property addressing system to open up the space for e-commerce, digitisation of drivers license and vehicle registration, digitisation of business registration and the introduction paperless port operations—all of which are aimed at reducing revenue leakages and ensuring faster turnaround in customs processing and clearance of goods.


The appointment of a Special Prosecutor, his vetting and subsequent swearing-in to help fight corruption is also an indication that the government is living by its promise to make corruption unattractive and save the country large sums of money that would, otherwise, have gone into private pockets. These monies will now be available to finance the country’s development agenda— instead of relying on foreign aid.




Another important element of the ‘Ghana beyond aid’ agenda is education. Realizing that all the economic interventions might come to naught if the country does not have an educated workforce, the Akufo-Addo administration is responding with the implementation of the Free Senior High School programme and the expectation is that Ghana, in the next few years, will have a strong human capital to drive its own socio-economic activities rather than importing human workforce.


Work has started earnestly on the agenda. Policy makers are drawing out the details and the various components while practical measures are being designed and efforts made to ensure that the agenda becomes real.


One example of such efforts was a conference on Moving beyond aid—Revenue Mobilization G20—Compact with Africa whichtook place in Accra onthe 4th and 5th of April, 2018.


The two-day Conference was organized by the Africa Centre for Economic Transformation (ACET) in collaboration with Ministry of Finance and the International Monetary Fund on domestic revenue mobilization as a pillar in moving Ghana beyond aid.


The conference  brought  together senior government officials, representatives of revenue agencies from eight countries in the sub-region namely, Benin, Cote D’ Ivoire, Egypt, Ghana, Guinea, Rwanda, Senegal, and Tunisia as well as Development Partners, experts and representatives of the Civil Society.


The conference provided a common platform for knowledge sharing and peer-to-peer learning on revenue mobilization as well as ways to overcome aid dependence, ease financing constraints and enhance growth prospects – all key elements to achieve prosperity without jeopardizing debt sustainability.


A Ghana Beyond aid—can this be mere rhetoric? In my view, it cannot be, as words appear to be accompanied by action. Certainly, President Akufo-Addo is charting the path to a Ghana beyond aid, 61 one years after Independence.






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