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Opinions of Saturday, 15 August 2015

Columnist: Appiah-Opoku, Seth

The NDPC already have goals for the proposed 40-year development plan in Ghana.

By: Prof. Seth Appiah-Opoku

Planning is a systematic process of thought and action intended to contribute to effective decision-making. It is not based on emotions, intuitions, nor personal beliefs but empirical studies and data analysis. It begins with some sense of dissatisfaction with the status quo or perceived development problems. A diagnosis of the development problems involves defining the problems, uncovering the root-causes of the problems, and establishing the scope of the problems. This helps planners to avoid hasty conclusions, witch-hunting or solving the symptoms of the problems.

A planner’s role is not to impose a vision or goals but to help society diagnose their development problems and establish their own goals or vision for the plan. This is important because imposition or a perceived imposition of development planning goals is detrimental to consensus building and public support. It’s against this background that we need to examine the National Development Planning Commission’s (NDPC) announced goals for the proposed 40-year development plan.

Already, the NDPC has established a vision for the proposed plan – a just, free and prosperous nation. Of course that’s the vision of every nation under the sun but the problem here is that it’s being imposed on Ghanaians and that’s a recipe for failure. In the view of the NDPC, this vision could be achieved through the following established goals for the plan: (a) inclusive and resilient economy; (b) equitable and tolerant society; (c) safe and sustainable communities; (d) effective and efficient institutions; (e) contribute to World Peace and Justice. These are noble goals but who decides what the goals of the 40-year development plan should be? Should it be the majority of Ghanaians or the NDPC? Your guess is as good as mine. If the NDPC intends to make the plan binding on future governments, it must desist from imposing these goals on Ghanaians. Rather, it must help Ghanaians diagnose their development problems and sieve out the goals or vision for the proposed development plan.

The writer is a certified planner with the American Institute of Certified Planners and a planning professor at the University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa, USA. Email him at