Business News of 2013-12-20

Consolidating middle-income status

…USAID launches support strategy

A five-year Country Development Cooperation Strategy (CDCS) focusing on promoting broad-based and sustainable growth that will support Ghana’s effort to consolidate its middle-income status has been developed by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).

The strategy, which expires in 2017, has a provisional budget of US$850million and will implement the United States’ global development policy in the Ghanaian context -- making evidence-based decisions that will contribute toward Ghana’s vision and shared growth and development agenda, while maintaining close coordination with US government partners.

Developed by USAID in consultation with the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning, the strategy will be implemented under four developmental thematic goals: Strengthened Responsive Democratic Governance; Sustainable and Broadly Shared Economic Growth; Equitable Improvements in Health Status; and Improved Reading Performance in Primary School.

“The implementation of the CDCS in consultation with government reflects a long history of close cooperation between the US government and the government of Ghana,” said Jim Bever, Mission Director and Counsellor for International Development of the USAID at a roundtable discussion in Accra.

“We expect the Ministry of Finance to sign the financial obligation for the first US$150million tranche of a five-year strategy of assistance programme. We have sent the financial obligation document to Minister Seth Terkper and we hope he will be signing it in a few weeks.”

Mr. Bever explained that the country has already realised significant positive results in health, education and governance; however, many Ghanaians do not have adequate access to high quality health, education services, educational programmes and effective governance mechanisms.

“The country continues to face a number of challenges which inhibit progress toward broad-based growth, higher living standards, and good governance. High borrowing costs, unreliable supply of electric power and high transaction cost in the land markets continue to be key constraints to broad-based economic growth.

“While the country continues to enjoy strong economic growth, employment opportunities in the private sector remain inadequate to absorb the growing labour force.” Social problems include a high burden of disease, especially malaria, as well as still-high rates of maternal and infant mortality. Other health challenges include low access, quality, and use of family-planning and maternal and child health services, micro-nutrient deficiencies, low use of interventions to prevent malaria, and a high prevalence of HIV among the most at-risk groups.

He mentioned also that poor water supply, lack of access to sanitation facilities, and overall weak regional and district management systems are a hindrance to development.

The persistent development challenges must be addressed to realise and sustain the benefits of a middle-income country, he said. President Obama, as part of his US Global Development Policy, directed USAID to lead the formulation of results-oriented Country Development Cooperation Strategies that partner with host countries and focus on “sustainable development outcomes that place a premium on broad-based economic growth, democratic governance, game-changing innovations, and sustainable systems for meeting basic human needs”.

The CDCS will enable USAID to continue playing a lead-role in implementing Obama’s vision for global development as it supports Ghana’s efforts to accelerate its middle-income country status.