Mr. Yaw Osafo-Maafo, the Senior Minister, has said the drive to move the country beyond aid does not mean Ghana would be refusing to accept development aid.
The government would rather make sure that donor support tied in with development priorities of the nation.
“We will politely decline aid that is not in line with Ghana’s development priorities.”
It should also be consistent with the effort at increasing efficiency and value for money in public sector expenditures.
Mr. Osafo-Maafo said this in an address read for him at the high-level conference on Ghana Beyond Aid in Bolgatanga.
The programme was organized with support from STAR-Ghana, a multi-donor pooled funding mechanism, Integrated Social Development Centre (ISODEC), TAMA Foundation and the Northern Development Authority (NDA).
The two-day conference brought together the academia, Civil Society Organizations, Regional Ministers, Municipal and District Chief Executives, traditional and religious leaders in Northern, Upper East and Upper West Regions.
Mr. Osafo-Maafo noted that the three regions were a popular destination for aid and direct donor support and said, “While this is welcoming, it is important to take stock and see if we are indeed achieving the expected impact”.
He made reference to dwindling volumes of aid and it was time the nation moved aggressively towards modernizing its agriculture.
The three Northern Regions with their flat arable land offered the country the best area to start the agricultural modernization.
He added that the government was creating the right environment that would both improve conditions for small holder farmers and favour large scale commercial agriculture.
Ghana Beyond Aid was about diversification of the economy with clear shift towards agriculture-led industrialization.
He spoke of the increasing attraction of Ghana to giant global industries including Nissan and Volkswagen (VW) who had signalled readiness to establish assembling plants in the country.
“Government will ensure that Northern Ghana will have its fair share of these emerging opportunities.”
Dr Hakeem Wemah, Board Chairman of the Northern Development Authority and Chairman of the high-Level conference, said the area had been and remained a major beneficiary of development assistance because of the level and depth of poverty.
Grant-aided programs had financed education, health care, agriculture, roads and bridges, nutrition interventions, school feeding and occasionally humanitarian relief when the people were faced disasters like flooding.
“We recall the Upper Region Agricultural Development Programme (URADEP) largely World Bank funded, which was the main driver of agricultural transformation in the 1970s and 1980s in the Upper Regions, Northern Regional Rural Integrated Programme (NORRIP) largely funded by Canada which invested in water resources and social programmes in the Northern Region.
Both died when donor funds ceased. No post-mortem was ever carried out,” Dr Wemah added.
He identified the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) as a major investor in agriculture through its Feed the Future Programme and the Millennium Challenge Initiative.
There were also government initiatives that had drawn in the Danish International Development Agency (DANIDA), the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) and the International Fund for Agriculture Development (IFAD) which had been making major strides in health, social protection and pro-poor growth.