By Lisa Vives, Global Information Network
NEW YORK | KAMPALA (IDN) — For years, few expected a financial crisis in Ghana, much less to see Ghana become a debtor nation like some of its more troubled neighbors in West Africa.
“Ghana is a major cocoa and gold exporter, so why is the West African nation battling its worst economic crisis in decades?” asked Kent Mensah, a journalist.
“Prices of goods keep soaring, and it is affecting my principal capital,” Doris Oduro told Al Jazeera. “I want to close my store and find something else to do. Things are tough for me because I can’t sustain the business and I have a family to keep.”
Once described as Africa’s shining star by the World Bank, Ghana had the world’s fastest-growing economy in 2019 after it doubled its economic growth. But today, it is no longer the economic poster boy of West Africa with inflation now hitting 37%.
“The growth we experienced around 2017 to 2019 was actually coming from the oil sector,” an economist with the Accra-based Policy Initiative for Economic Development, told Al Jazeera.
“We were so excited that the economy was growing,” Daniel Anim Amarteye, told Al Jazeera. “We neglected the agriculture sector… The government became complacent.”
The president finally conceded that the West African country was in crisis. He blamed external shocks—the pandemic and Russia-Ukraine war.
But some blamed Akufo-Addo’s expensive campaign pledges, from a free education program in public high schools to free meals to students at primary and secondary levels.
The elimination of 15 “nuisance taxes” by the governing New Patriotic Party further damaged the struggling economy, bringing massive reductions in government revenue, observed Williams Kwasi Peprah, a Ghanaian teacher of finance at Andrews University in Michigan.
“We were slowly heading for disaster,” said Kwasi Yirenkyi, a financial analyst with the Accra-based Data Crunchers.
Now the President himself has become the target of anger and frustration from thousands of young people who blame him for the unsustainable cost of living, the high cost of fuel and food.
At November’s protest march through the capital Accra, the crowd chanted ‘Akufo Addo must go’ and “IMF no” in response to ongoing talks with the International Monetary Fund for billions of dollars to prop up the economy.
“Enough is enough” protester Francisca Wintima told Reuters. “We have gold, we have oil, we have manganese, we have diamonds. We have everything we need in this country. The only thing that we need is leadership.” [IDN-InDepthNews — 02 January 2023]
Photo: Protests in the streets of Accra against surge in inflation. File photo courtesy of Nipah Dennis/AFP.
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