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Opinions Sat, 4 Dec 2004

Why Ghana carry the hope of the Continent on her shoulders.

After almost 40years of aid dependence Ghana and the rest of Africa still remains poor. At independence, Ghana was seen as the one Africa country that was destined for successful development. Ghana carried on her shoulders the hope of the continent.

The factors that contributed to Ghana?s failed development include both internal and external factors. Commentators of both the dependency school and the neo-classical school of thought have come up with various theses as to why Ghana and Africa is the only region that still remains trapped in poverty and aid dependence.

Commentators of the dependency school were the first to link Human development to the development of a country. They argue that the colonial masters structured Africa in such a way that they will for ever remain dependent on them. Africa was the only continent where her infrastructure was least developed in contrast to her counter parts in East and South East Asia, thus the Asians had the entire necessary infrastructures in place during their take off period. During the cold war Africa was not seen as much of a strategic continent as the countries of East and South Asia and thus scant attention was paid to her. This was what the dependency school called ?Uneven Development?.

As results Ghana and the rest of Africa were shackled with huge burden, the very obstacles that prevented them from faster growth, which were mostly external factors. Thus as the dependency school rightly argue, Africa was structured to be aid dependent irrespective of policies put in place to uplift them. The dependency school further argue that the huge disparities between the have and have not also made it quite impossible to move forward. Dr Nkrumah?s CPP did try to break this mode but some of the policies that they pursue were not right for the country or were far too advance at the time in question. Their path to industrialisation was great, but Ghana at the time had very limited market, and the continental African market was not matured at the time.

Also in addition to the above analysis, Africa also finds herself in a very unfavourable geographic situation and very climatic conditions. Commentators have debated on the climatic conditions and most have suggested that more money into Research and Development on the continent would have addressed such disadvantages.

However the neo classical school, who are always ready to jump at the bad policies to illustrate and advance their arguments have always stated that like their East and South Asian counter parts, Africa used the cheap petrol-dollar loans that were poured into their economies to pursued policies, including building grand projects, that were not appropriate for the continent. And to a degree they were right as corruption took among the ruling class went on grand scale. Countries like Nigeria, Ivory Coast, Ghana and Zimbabwe have been used as classic examples of how countries with huge potential can quickly turn into a basket case if policies pursued were wrong.

In this sphere Ghana has always been used as an example of various measures that taken to try and make things better, but to no avail. In the 1980s Ghana became the model country of the Bretton Woods institutions. Most of the IMF/World Bank loans were poured into Ghana, due to over reliance on a few cash crops and extractive minerals, the resources failed to transform the economy. Yes it did open up the economy, but as the Dependency school have always argue, it did open the economies of Africa up for more exploitation by the MNCs. They stated that that was and has always been the goal of the Structural Policies pursued with vigour in the 1980s and 1990s.

Due to primitive technology and near to nil access to finance, Agriculture productivity in Africa has remained low and to a point has stagnated overtime. Thus Africa is trapped in primitive technology as the rest of the world move on. Development has literally bypass Africa. In the 21st Century, there are vast places on the continent that are still lock up in the 19th century technology. Although Africa has been compared with her counterparts in Asia, again the Dependency school has discounted this argument. They have stated that a guided development cannot compare to favourably to a continent where illiteracy is far higher and there is near nil infrastructural development. This is coupled with the continent having to fight with diseases, some more opportunist and the lack of interest by the Developed world to help combat. Thus as Ghana embark on another journey, most of her siblings on the continent would be waiting anxiously to see how she fares. The future looks bleak, but with hope Ghana can show the way. Our destiny is in our own hands.


Views expressed by the author(s) do not necessarily reflect those of GhanaHomePage.

Columnist: Jeffrey, Peter Nee