by Rose Afriyie
In an exclusive interview for The Burton Wire, Ghanaian journalist Rose Afriyie speaks with defeated NPP presidential candidate Nana Akufo-Addo about his views on improving Ghana’s economy.
Ghana’s recently elected President John Dramani Mahama has started the process of reaching across the political aisle. In recent interviews, the National Democratic Congress (NDC) party leader stated that he sees the opposition party as “partners” in improving Sub-Saharan Africa’s 5th fastest growing economy.
I had the opportunity of sitting down with Nana Akufo-Addo, the defeated New Patriotic Party (NPP) presidential candidate, in his Accra office during campaign season. We discussed economic policy at length and his insights about the future of Ghana.
“Our main aim in Ghana today must be the transformation of the structure of the Ghanaian economy. We produce essentially raw materials in Ghana: cocoa, gold, timber, crude oil – we don’t do too much value addition of the things that we produce here,” explained Akufo-Addo. His solution is the “industrialization of the Ghanaian economy” which he believes will be the result of private and public partnerships. Akufo Addo said that this industrialized economy requires “people investing their funds and companies investing their funds in value addition activities such as industrial ventures – medium scale and small scale.” For the government’s part, Akufo-Addo thinks that fiscal and financial currency incentives will encourage individuals and entities to make these investments.
Akufo-Addo also believes that two things should be prioritized with respect to oil wealth if poverty reduction is to become a reality:
1. Creating within the oil sector a viable proto-chemical industry
2. [Oil] Revenues being used to support the transformation of the Ghanaian economy.
Some sections of the 2011 Petroleum Revenue Management Act partially address the latter concerns as the construction of roads and agricultural modernization are prioritized in the Act and vital to economic transformation. Yet, Akufo-Addo believes that the Act in question has problems. “I think it was a mistake to… make it possible for 70 percent of oil revenues to go directly to a consolidated fund…because it becomes more difficult to see what benefit we are getting from the oil,” said Akufo-Addo. While the legislation has been viewed as an international success, a provision that has been largely criticized involves revenues being used as collateral for development projects.
Aside from the benefit a national conversation on oil revenue reform might have towards unifying a politically fractured nation, oil reform and the fair distribution of revenues is an extremely relevant issue.
If President Mahama’s camp is to succeed at appealing to the 47.7 percent of NPP supporters, many of whom believe that the election was stolen, these issues of value addition and oil revenue reform can serve as conversation starters between the opposition and President Mahama’s NDC Party.
Rose Afriyie is a journalist based in the Bronx. She is also the project manager of actNOW, a Google-funded mobile application that will enable everyday Ghanaians to easily petition corporates and politicos in Ghana in response to investigative exposés. Tweet at her: @RoseSerwah.