Samia Nkrumah’s Policies to Reduce Poverty

Thu, 21 Apr 2011 Source: Jeffrey, Peter

Samia Nkrumah’s Policies to Reduce Poverty and Accelerate Sustainable Development in Ghana.

Samia Yaba Christina Nkrumah has vowed not to leave the poor behind as Ghana pushes ahead to become sub-Saharan Africa’s third country to attain middle income status behind South Africa and Botswana by 2015.

In an age of austerity, financial restructuring, wage retraction, job loses and free market ideology, few public officials or candidates for office have much to say about the persistence of poverty, yet as Samia prepares herself to run for the chairmanship of Convention Peoples Party, and in effect the presidential candidate of that party, the only thing on her mind is how to solve the issue of poverty in the country.

Samia has downplayed what most of her detractors called “class war” but which she insisted is more about social justice.

Although she is not running for the presidency in 2012, Samia has not only resurrected the rhetoric, but also has pinned her hopes for 2016 on a strategy of connecting with the majority poor, the voiceless, jobless graduates, the youth, market mothers and fisher folks, those that she often referred to as the “silent majority and/or my constituents”.

Since she was elected into the Ghanaian parliament just over two years ago, the ex president’s daughter has become the political voice of the poor. She has said that “policy instruments that could be useful in reducing poverty and hunger are not in short supply”. Apart from directing investments (both public and private) aimed at pro-poor growth, there is also the micro-credit, redistributive policies such as directing companies to invest in poor regions with massive tax incentives, setting up of mechanize co-operative farms and manufacturing small scale industries etc, she said these policy instruments is political and if properly implemented must withstand any politically contested opposition.

Samia’s top economic aide and a respected former World Bank staffer said, “Since the stabilization and reform policies (Structural Adjustment Programs of the Bretton Woods Institutions) that opened-up the economy and reduced public sector’s role, many Ghanaians thrown onto the economic scrapheap became destitute and couldn’t escape from the poverty trap they find themselves”. “These are the folks Samia is fighting for, these are the folks she has pledge never to leave behind, he stated”.

He did acknowledge that the structural policies did generate a surprisingly quick recovery and unprecedented average growth of 5.7% in five years under Dr Kwesi Botchwey (an Nkrumaist), policies that Samia broadly agrees with. He argues that what is lacking is an improvement in social indicators, including gender related indicators. He put the blame squarely at the feet of the last NPP administration for their mismanagement and massive corruption under their watch.

Samia’s economic team criticized high literacy rates and high infant mortality in the country. They broadly agrees that life expectancy at birth has increased, as well as school enrollments under Mills administration, however they argue that the estimated fall in the overall poverty reduction does not go far enough.

They also raise the “technological dimension” and the inability of our researchers to be more innovative due to lack of resources. According to her economic team, Samia will increase Ghana’s share of Gross Domestic Product in Research and Development. They argue that Samia wants to turn University of Ghana, Legon, Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, Kumasi and University for Development Studies, Tamale, into academic of excellence in the sub-region. They also hinted that all the polytechnics in the country would be upgraded to institutes of technologies, moving from political and social discourse to science and technical know-how. According to one youth leader and a member of Samia’s economic team, the neglect of technical education by successive governments is criminal. James Kwabena Bomfeh, aka Kabila, the dynamic and telegenic CPP Youth leader and a member of the “The Patriots” said, “Since 1966, we as a nation not been able to innovate and equip our people with technical skills which has had a profound effect on our poverty reduction strategies”. He mentioned education indicators (a set of primary enrolment rates and a set of literacy rates) and health indicators (access to sanitation and access to clean water) in the rural areas and urban slums, where there is fairly high degree of deprivation and thus access to education and health care are very low. James said in some rural communities, citizens do not have access to piped water and sanitation, thus exacerbating already worse situation into persistent poverty.

Samia has said that access to decent education, health care and employment creation would be at the heart of her poverty reduction strategies. Investment in infrastructure and human capital will underpin CPP first two years in government. She said CPP government would put in place incentives to support public and private-sector employment as well as support the productivity and incomes in the informal sector.

Samia’s economic team will mobilize domestic and Diaspora resources for development instead of relying on traditional drivers of economic growth (export of raw material and development aid) as is the case in many sub-Saharan African countries. Since 1996, investment from Ghanaian Diaspora has poured into the country at very fast pace.

Since Ghana’s economic reforms began in the mid 1980s, much have been written about the country and its relative stability and good economic management, especially under Flt Lt John Rawlings’ watch. Non Resident Ghanaians have played a major part in foreign investment but its contribution to the Ghanaian economy has only lately been recognized.

Samia said, “There would have been no Ghana economic miracle without the help of the Ghanaian Diaspora”. It is estimated that there are over 2.5 million Ghanaian nationals and their dependents residing outside the country. The cultural-economic gap between Ghana and Ghanaian Diaspora is narrowing. Ghana, through whose ports many were taken into slavery relax her citizenship criterion to their descendants, thus recognizing the country’s historic past. Samia said, “like the Irish, we are a small country, but over half of blacks in North America, South America and the Caribbean can trace their roots to Ghana – this is our strength that has been recognized the world over”. Samia paid tribute to Jake Obetsebi-Lamptey, the former Tourism Minister for working hard to bring more investment from this constituency.

Listening to the daughter of the late president talking about how to reduce the cost of doing business in Ghana brings back memories of Ghana’s golden years under father’s old CPP administration.

Columnist: Jeffrey, Peter

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