New Ghanaian

Alternative Manifesto for Ghana

Papa Badu Donkoh


1 November 2012

Ghana has emerged as one of the success stories in Africa – poor contextual comparison -and has benefitted from the goodwill of democratic stability: increase in foreign investment, grants, and often condescending paean from donors. Yet, Ghana is at crossroads regarding its competitiveness and ability to fulfil the aspirations of its founders and citizens. Its long held (and so far eluded) dream of emerging as a global competitive country is threatened by its inability to meet the basic survival needs of its people in this fast changing and hyper connected world: food production is insecure, health and education provision are limited and of poor quality, social protection for the disadvantaged barely exist, critical infrastructure is deficient, productivity and innovation are weak, and delivery of the democratic function is rusty.

A notable failure has also been the inability to transit from an agricultural-based economy toa manufacturing and services based one, which is a prerequisite for advancing into a sustainable high performing and competitive country. Given the current trajectory of the global economy failure to take the necessary critical actions to alleviate these challenges would threaten both the stability and the survival of Ghana as a viable state.

A radical transformation agenda that deeply impacts on economic growth and efficiency, productivity and innovation, social justice, accountable and transparent government is seriously and urgently needed. The usual piecemeal, unambiguous, mediocre and incremental policy injections will be woefully insufficient and must be rejected.

Having examined policies and actions that have lifted countries into the higher echelons ofthe global development and competitive league, I propose that Ghana adopts a progressive development model that combines economic efficiency and social justice, and is able to tackle inequality and boost growth at the same time. Pursuing prosperity with equity is the surest and sustainable way of achieving a competitive, fair, and innovative society. This is congruent with Kwame Nkrumah’s development agenda, great ex-American presidents Theodore Roosevelt’s progressive philosophy and Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal programme, Clem Attlee’s post-War Britain programme, and the Asian growth models used by Japan, Taiwan, South Korea, Singapore and Hong Kong.

As observed by Theodore Roosevelt in his 1910 progressive philosophy speech, which spurred into action one of the most progressive eras in American history, “in every wise struggle in human betterment one of the main objects and often the only object has been to achieve in large measure equality of opportunity”. He, thereafter, used a mix of regulatory interventions and social insurance to attack inequality and spur progress. Great nations have used regulatory interventions to bust corruption, undesired privilege and cronyism in businessand politics (example: Theodore Roosevelt’s anti-trust and monopolies policy); widened access to universal basic education to reduce social immobility and boost their competitiveness (as in post war America and lately Latin America), and established sustainable social insurance nets for the disadvantaged (Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal in 1930’s America instituted social security, pensions and unemployment benefits; Lloyd George instituted pensions in 1909 Britain, which was expanded by Clem Attlee’s post-1945 to include other social security benefits and the national health service; all Western European countries followed this model and recently Brazil and other advancing Latin American countries have adopted the model to boost innovation and minimise inequality).

The proposed progressive model encompasses three key strategic objectives: creating asociety of equal opportunities; creating a conducive and fair environment for competition, innovation and productivity; and making the delivery of the democratic function effective.

As this is a manifesto, all proposed actions will be clear, concise and reflect the overarching strategic objectives. The offered ideas and actions have been distilled from programmes that have been found effective, fit the espoused strategic vision; and lifted average performing nations into global trendsetters and best performers.

A central requirement for the success of this radical programme and the subsequent emergence of Ghana as a high achieving global nation is leadership. Ghana needs a leader with a brilliant and curious mind (to understand Ghana’s history, mistakes, present challenges and the intricacies of the present hyper connected and fast changing world); vision (to have higher aspirations, dream big and be intolerant of mediocrity); empathy (demonstratedthrough sensitivity to and understanding of the people’s needs and aspirations); courage (to withstand criticism and persevere); and have the persuasive ability to sell the agenda ( sacrifices required for achieving the vision and benefits of success to the people).

The critical action programmes identified have been grouped under six thematic areas, namely:

  • School system
  • Health care
  • Agriculture and food security
  • Democratic delivery (effective and efficient governance system)
  • Economic and infrastructural development