Put structures in place to realise ‘Ghana beyond aid’-Economist

Although President Nana Akufo-Addo has reiterated a ‘Ghana beyond aid’ on several platforms, which also happens to be the theme for this year’s 61st Independence anniversary, Mr. Anim-Prempeh believes certain structures first need to be in place to realise the vision.

Otherwise, Anim-Prempeh – who is the Executive Director, Policy Initiative for Economic Development, Africa – believes it will become another statement of intent that ends up like ‘Vision 2020’ – with very little to show.

Speaking to B&FT to mark the 61st Independence anniversary celebrations, Anim-Prempeh said his understanding of the vision is that reliance on development partners should be minimised to the barest minimum, if not a zero-rate.

However, certain policies ought to be executed to realise the laudable vision; and thus there is a need to concentrate on certain critical areas. To realise a ‘Ghana beyond aid’ in his estimation means the country would have to ensure a lot of internally generated inflows, and to achieve that we need a robust and resilient financial sector.

“One that can give credit to businesses at a competitive rate: currently, the interest rate regime is prohibitive and a disincentive to businesses. How do we achieve this?” he queried.

“Government must of necessity start saving to raise critical revenue, and in the process we free-up the credit space for businesses to access credit at competitive rates. If government continues to borrow from commercial banks, it will absorb all the liquidity in the system and deny enterprises access to credit.”

Therefore, Mr. Anim-Prempeh believes that if government should started saving and investing to generate revenue, there would be enough liquidity in the commercial banks for them to extend to businesses.

Equally, government must also start investment projects – and, here, Mr. Anim-Prempeh cites the oil discovery in the country – observing that only foreigners are participating in it. He believes the capacity of the Ghana National Petroleum Corporation (GNPC) should be beefed-up beyond exploration to production, and with such enhanced capacity GNPC can enter other African markets for explorative and productive purposes – and the economy will gain from this investment. This way, the country can retain 100% of the profit.

The financial consultant and economist believes government borrowing – also from the capital market – needs be tamed if indeed we anticipate a Ghana beyond aid. Even if there is a need to borrow from the capital market, it should be targetted. For instance, borrowing for the establishment of a national carrier knowing that such an investment would enhance the country’s economic well-being.

He underscored the importance of investing money borrowed from capital markets into sectors that have a ripple or a multiplier effect for the economy. like investing in areas where the country has a competitive advantage such as the cocoa sector – particularly in adding value to cocoa-related products.

Recently, he was abroad and had an opportunity to patronise a unique soap – and he learnt the shea component was from Ghana, and so he believes value addition to such sectors and the cashew industry are strategic areas t government can look at in pursuing it vision of a Ghana without aid.

Another strategic investment that can be realised by borrowing from the capital market is to beef-up the aviation sector, since that is another revenue-generating pole that can boost economic development.

Lastly, Mr. Anim-Prempeh touched on the education sector, which is critical to the vision of a Ghana beyond aid since it’s important to produce the right human resources to run the industrialisation drive of One District, One Factory.  Hence, there is need to focus on equipping the technical universities so they can produce graduates who can think ahead and be innovative.

Pertaining to the education sector, also, he notes that the country can benefit tremendously if we leverage on education tourism, since he observed that 33% of graduates from Valley View University come from Nigeria. An arrangement can be put in place where through diplomatic channels the various governments in the sub-region can pay a fee to government for the education of their students.

President George Weah of Liberia recently asked for professionals from Nigeria to come and help re-build the Liberian economy, and this is an example of how this arrangement can bring benefits to the economy.