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Ghana celebrates 56th Independence Day anniversary

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Published : 2013-03-05 20:27
Updated : 2013-03-05 20:27

Ambassador Margaret Clarke-Kwesie
The following article was contributed by the Ghanaian Embassy on the 56th Independence Day anniversary. ― Ed.

The minister of information launched the 56th independence anniversary celebration on Feb. 15, with a program of activities leading to the commemoration of the anniversary on March 6.

Ghana, formally known as the Gold Coast, gained independence on March 6, 1957. The first nine years saw rapid development in all sectors of the economy and increased participation of Ghana’s leaders in global issues.

The bubble burst in February 1966 when a coup d’tat toppled the government of the first President Kwame Nkrumah from power and plunged the country into a period of coup d’tats interspersed with democratic rule for 15 years.

In 1992, Ghana held a referendum to determine which type of governance system to follow. Ghanaians voted overwhelmingly for multiparty democratic rule. Since then, Ghana has held five successive multiparty elections with four successive changes in government. Over the past 20 years, there has been stability and growth in the economy.

The last election was held on Dec. 7, 2012, and was won by John Dramani Mahama. Mahama was the incumbent vice president under the late President John Evans Atta Mills, who died suddenly in office on July 24, 2012. In line with Ghana’s constitution, Vice President Mahama was sworn in as president to take over the five remaining months of President Mills’ tenure.
President John Dramani Mahama

In August 2012, the National Democratic Congress held a Special Delegates Congress to endorse President John Mahama as its sole 2012 presidential candidate. He and his running mate, K.B. Amissah-Arthur, the former governor of the central bank, won with 50.7 percent of the vote with the opposition candidate in close second with 47.7 percent.

Ghana has been touted as a safe and stable country in Africa with very friendly people. The freedom of religion and worship is enshrined in Ghana’s Constitution and this has ensured a peaceful coexistence of people with different religious beliefs and ethnicity.

The 2010 census indicated that 71.2 percent of the population are Christians, 17.6 percent Islam, 5.2 percent practice traditional religions and 5.3 percent other religions. Ghana is considered the most religious country in the world and this reflects in the attitude and behavior of Ghanaians as peaceful and law-abiding citizens.

The 2010 population census of Ghana places the population at 24.66 million, up from 18.91 million people in 2000 and representing a growth rate of 30.4 percent. About 39 percent of the population are below 15 years of age.

The country is endowed with an educated, youthful and enterprising population eager to work and develop the country.

The new National Democratic Congress administration which was sworn into office on Jan. 7, 2013, intends to continue with the programs of its predecessor administration and build on its success.

The overall policies under which the last administration performed successfully are the following:

1. Putting the people first

2. A strong and resilient economy

3. Expanding infrastructure

4. Transparent and accountable governance

To this effect, the Mahama administration has pledged to implement the following programs:

― Expand the economy from its marginal middle-income status to a full-fledged middle-income status where growth and prosperity are spread equitably across the country, and reduce poverty substantially across the country.

― Use energy as the foundation of socio-economic transformation by expanding distribution of energy to ensure access to all citizens.

― Rapidly expand access to quality education at both the elementary and secondary levels to ensure that all children have access to education up to the secondary school level.

― Promote a fully decentralized governance agenda to empower regions and districts to acquire the resources and capacities they need to make decisions and be accountable to the citizens.

Economy

Ghana is one of the fastest growing economies in the world. Its growth rate was 14.3 percent in 2011 and 8.7 percent in 2012. Its economy is sustained by the export of minerals such as gold, diamonds, bauxite and manganese as well as timber, cocoa and oil. The services sector accounts for 48.5 percent of the GDP and employs 28 percent of the workforce. The industrial sector accounts for 25.9 percent and agriculture 25.6 percent. Ghana also depends on some international financial and technical support as well as remittances from Ghanaians in the diaspora. Main export partners are the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, France, the United States, Ukraine and Belgium.

The major imports of Ghana are petroleum, capital equipment and food items and the main export destinations are China, Nigeria, India, the United States, France and the United Kingdom.

Ghana’s economy is rated as stable by both Standard & Poor’s and Fitch, graded as “BB+” by S&P and “BBB+” by Fitch.

Over the last decade, Ghana has been on the verge of transforming its economy from an agricultural to an industrial one but has been hindered by shortfalls in energy. Energy shortages have been the bane of consistent industrialization in the country. However, with the discovery of large quantities of oil and gas, it is expected that there will now be a good source of fuel to generate the electricity to power our industrialization process.

Delegations coming to Korea?

Korea’s rapid socio-economic and technological progress has caught the attention and interest of the world, particularly developing countries such as Ghana. Ghana seeks to learn important lessons from Korea’s experience to accelerate their economic development.

As a result, Korean companies are working with some Ghanaian ministries, departments and agencies on the following development projects in Ghana:

(i) Water supply rehabilitation and expansion project

(ii) Establishment of a vocational training center

(iii) Tailor-made invitation workshops for public officials

(iv) Power transmission lines

Another major objective is to attract Korean companies to Ghana. It is pertinent to mention that from 2009-2012, KOTRA, KOICA and Eximbank have not only opened branch offices, but are engaged in development activities in Ghana. As a result, many Korean companies such as POSCO Engineering, KEPCO E&C, Pyunghwa Engineering Construction Ltd, Silla Co. Ltd, Glotec, and others are doing business in Ghana in road construction, energy and communications.

Ghanaian-Korean cooperation in the area of capacity building has been characterized by the offer of scholarships in various disciplines and the exchange of students and government officials in various tertiary institutions. The Korea International Cooperation Agency sponsored Ghanaians from both the public and private sectors to take courses relating to their fields. More than 200 Ghanaians have pursued and are still pursuing undergraduate and graduate level programs here as well as short courses in various Korean institutions of higher learning.

Bilateral trade

Trade flows between Ghana and Korea have increased over the past two decades. According to Korea Institute of Economic Trade, trade between the two countries in 1977 was $10 million. This has increased steadily over the years to reach over $200 million as of 2008. However, these trade flows have been in favor of Korea. Since the 1990s, Ghana has remained one of the top 10 destinations of Korean exports in Africa but remains one of the smallest exporters to Korea. While Korean exports to Ghana have more than tripled over the last decade, Ghana’s exports to Korea have only increased marginally since 1980 ― from $5 million in 1980 to $21 million in 2010, peaking at $38 million in 1994. Exports from Korea to Ghana have generally constituted machinery and transport equipment, including motor vehicles. Other manufactured products such as televisions, computers, phones and chemicals are also exported. Ghana’s exports to Korea mainly include cocoa, metal scraps, food items and other raw materials.

In connection with investment opportunities, Ghana’s government has created a political and economic environment that allows for active private-sector participation in the country’s ongoing socio-economic development and the Better Ghana Agenda. In this regard, the government ensures that a level playing field exists for all stakeholders who are interested in doing business in Ghana in order for both investors and suppliers to their obtain value for money. As a nation that prides itself as adherent to the principle rule of law and transparency, it ensures that all players in the economy exemplify transparency in the conduct of their businesses.

Furthermore, the Embassy of Ghana continues to provide Korean investors with the necessary information such as investment policies and how to start a business in Ghana. Another facility that may encourage foreign investors and Korean businessmen for that matter, is the setting up of the Ghana Free Zone where tax incentives, lands and utilities like water, electricity as well as road networks are available for companies which intend to produce for export.

The total number of Korean companies registered in Ghana had risen to 110 between 1994 and 2012 and Korean foreign direct investment in Ghana is 74 million Ghanaian cedis ($38.5 million). These Korean companies are involved in fishing, manufacturing, building and construction, agriculture, tourism and general trading. They also import automobiles and auto parts (new and used), and assemble and sell electronics and telecommunication equipment, ICT services, and similar products.

Korea’s influence in Ghana’s industrial sector through ODA and FDI remains marginal. The ability of two countries to deepen existing areas of cooperation and also explore new areas of trade and industrial cooperation would go a long way in the continued expansion of the Korean economy and the attainment of Ghana’s upper-middle-income status goal.

As a result of a good conducive investment environment in Ghana, Hyundai Automobile Center has opened a sales house and servicing center for made-in-Korea vehicles, Samsung Electronics has opened a number of outlets for sale and service of its products. Jung Heung is engaged in road construction, while the International Korean Association of Contractors, KOICA and KOTRA have recently opened branch offices in Accra to support their work in Ghana. In addition, many Korean companies such as Daewoo, SK Energy, Kolon, POSCO, KEPCO and others have extended their operations to Ghana in the area of energy, road, housing, deep sea port, construction, power transmission, water supply, and so on.

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