Bright Simons is vice-president, research, at Imani Centre for Policy and Education in Ghana.
Ghana’s president finally addressed his bewildered country just over a week ago. For months, Nana Akufo-Addo has refused to speak comprehensively about an economic crisis that has ravaged confidence in his government. Instead, he chose to carry on as if it would blow over.
The country is in intensive care. Inflation, officially, was near 40% in September. Most analysts believe it crossed that line long ago. The currency has lost more than half its value to the dollar this year. Most government contractors haven’t been paid for two years.
President Akufo-Addo blames everything on COVID-19 and the Ukraine crisis.
Because the government thinks the problem is entirely imported, it is doing very little to tackle the root cause: a bloated budget that has triggered a debt crisis. Banking all its hopes on an IMF rescue package, the government has neglected building the massive social consensus that would enable it to structurally reform its budget.
Nor is the government bothered about cutting waste fast enough. Hundreds of millions of dollars have been splashed on capital projects, such as irrigation dams, that have simply been abandoned. And at the height of COVID the government was doling out millions of dollars to architects and contractors for esoteric projects, such as bible museums, without parliamentary approval as required by law.
Sure, global headwinds are buffeting every country on Earth, but Ghana’s problems are closer to home.