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GHANA. Beacon of democracy

Article - September 13, 2012
Ghana is the region's example of political stability and economic growth, focusing on attracting foreign investors and creating sustainability through diversification
Along the western coast of the African continent, the nation of Ghana has been exemplary to other countries in the region, by boasting an effective and stable democracy, recent record-breaking economic growth, and thriving industries such as energy, agriculture and mining.

As a result of such prosperity, Ghana has attracted foreign investors from all over the world including the United States – which plans on investing $1.2 billion – and China, helping the country achieve a 13.4% increase in GDP and expected sustained growth over the next five years.

This influx of capital in Ghana pushes the once poor country into the realm of a middle-income economy, enjoying the resources to invest in a more modern infrastructure for industry and agriculture, finding renewable energy sources for sustainability, and providing better medicine and better quality of life for its citizens.

“Ghana has succeeded due to the vision of the leadership of the country, who believe that we need to have a peaceful, stable society to create a stable foundation to support our sustainable development, to uplift the people from the quagmire of poverty and achieve a good lifestyle,” remarks Alhaji Muhammad Mumuni, Ghana’s Minister of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration, adding that since the promulgation of the Fourth Republican Constitution in 1992 the country has achieved transparency and good governance.

This political stability has gone hand in hand with the country’s industry. After becoming the first Sub-Saharan African country to gain its independence in 1957, the groundwork was quickly and efficiently laid for the economic success the country is now achieving.

“We had a visionary leader who put together a very robust infrastructure for the times, in terms of energy, access to ports, and road infrastructure, and put us on this path very early on,” explains Joseph Samuel Annan, Deputy Minister for Trade and Industry in Ghana. He highlights this as a key factor for the country becoming the choice for many foreign direct investments (FDI).

Further FDI was attracted to the country with the landmark discovery of the Jubilee Oil Field in 2007 in the Atlantic Ocean just 37 miles off Ghana’s west coast. Energy revenues accounted for 5-6% of the GDP growth in 2011, after large quantities of oil were extracted in 2010.
Although the oil and gas industry has accounted for significant economic growth, the government is striving for a diversified economy, emphasizing renewable energy sources and using local materials to ensure long-term sustainability. Two of Ghana’s main energy companies, Volta River Authority and GRIDCo, are leading the way in solar and wind power in line with the government’s initiative calling for 10% of the energy supply to be derived from renewable sources by 2020.

The mining sector also remains one of the most important industries in the country with Ghana being the second-largest producer of gold oil in Africa and the seventh largest in the world. Whereas mining activities account for 42% of Ghana’s foreign exports they also bring in 28% of its internal revenue.

Furthermore, agriculture is seen as a main driving economic force, employing 55% of the workforce. In 2011 Ghana produced over 1 million tons of cocoa for the first time ever, increasing its output by 50% over the previous year.

“The cocoa industry is the lifeblood of the country. I keep telling people that oil will run out one day but cocoa trees can survive for 50 years or more,” says Sherry Ayittey, Minister of Environment, Science and Technology, noting the importance of maintaining a stable environment for agriculture, one of the key initiatives for her department.

In addition to ensuring sustainable agriculture, the government is also implementing an initiative to use local building materials toward infrastructure and housing construction, which could save the country $200 million and provide employment for much of the local workforce.

“I think that the opportunities within real estate and housing are immense. There is a housing deficit of 1.5 million,” says Enoch T. Mensah, Minister of Water, Resources, Works and Housing.
Aside from closing the housing gap, Mr. Mensah also explains that his ministry is committed to expanding the water treatment facilities in the country, to keep up with the needs of a growing population, with a goal of reaching 10 million gallons of water per day.

Ensuring clean, potable water for the entire population is one component of the government’s investment in the health of the citizens as well as continuing to reduce the rate of HIV, malaria and tuberculosis. Ghana is also currently attracting both medical tourism to the country, and investors in its pharmaceutical industry.

Ghana has seen vast improvements in almost every sector, greatly improving the lives of its citizens and positioning it at the forefront of international business and investments.