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Opinions of Saturday, 13 May 2006

Columnist: Boaten Yaw

Improving The Economic Situation In Ghana

Improving The Economic Situation In Ghana And The Other West Africa States.

The Kuffour administration has actually done all that it can. I think everyone understand that now. What is really the problem is globalization - the ability of Ghana to compete in the global markets. We need an expanded market .Markets have moved from local to regional then national and now global. What Ghana and for that matter West Africa countries should do now is

(1) Open entirely the borders within the individual countries be it English or French countries. When I say open borders I mean open borders.

(2) Have one currency in the West Africa zone (there have been speeches to that effect but please lets get it done). I mean both the English and French countries must now have one West Africa currency.

(3) Develop infrastructure (highways and overhead bridges - don?t tell me there is no money for this)to facilitate trade and commerce. Build dependable roads and railways, networks within the West Africa zone.

(4) Build strong political institutions including very strong law enforcement agencies such as the courts, and the police (The Wall Street Journal: Africa problems involves(I) Great swathes of Africa are lawless, corrupt and bitterly poor (II) Ideal breeding grounds for extremists (III) Aids continues to plague Africa (IV) Africa remains a likely place for any global pandemic to begin). At least West Africa citizens should be able to freely move about the west Africa zone to find land and do farming or to do some trading or to find some other work to do without any hindrance. We need leaders with vision and the plans who will be willing to put their personal interest aside and come together to solve these problems. The economy of Ghana and for that matter the individual West Africa countries are too small to compete individually with the big and developed countries.

Dr. Kwame Nkrumah in his book (I Speak of Freedom 1961) wrote ?Individually the independent states of Africa, some of them potentially rich, others poor, can do little for their people. Together, by mutual help, they can achieve much. But the economic development of the continent must be planned and pursued as a whole............. Only a strong political union can bring about full and effective development of our natural resources for the benefit of our people?. The Philadelphia Inquirer (June 26, 2005) had an article entitled ?A plea to deliver Africa from desolation?.

The author wrote including other things that Africa needs increased investments to rise out of pervasive hunger, disease and poverty. Africa investment priorities lie in four main areas namely health, education, agriculture and infrastructure. Africa requires investment in clinics, health workers, medicines and preventive measures such as anti-malaria bed nets. Tens of millions of children are not completing school. There are too few teachers, classrooms and supplies and the children are kept at home by parents to farm chores. Africa agriculture is woefully unproductive because farmers lack the basic inputs for modern agriculture notably small scale irrigation, improve seeds, and fertilizer.

Africa?s infrastructure is notoriously insufficient, with a lack of rural electrification, safe drinking water and sanitation, paved roads, and telecommunications. The author goes on to say that all four of these crisis areas can be solved, the needed investments are known and practical and the problem is mainly that Africa countries cannot afford these investment on their own. Other articles from the same paper and written on July3 and July 5 of 2005 have stated that poverty has made life in Africa short and brutal. Poverty has contributed to the ravages of AIDS, genocides and civil war that kill millions of Africans.

In the June5,2005 article of the same paper stated the average life expectancy in sub-saharan Africa is 46 years, one-sixth of residents are chronically poor, 34% of residents are under nourished and infrastructure left in dismal conditions due to the behavior of post independence Africa leaders. Colonial rule left a legacy that still cripples. The main causes of the problem are corruption, weak financial institutions, lack of clean and transparent government. Some of these problem can be solved by the world powers namely America and Europe by (1) re-examining trade subsidies and structures that put Africa at a disadvantage (2) debt forgiveness (3) building administrative capacity and (4) trading war for peace. Too often, corrupt and vicious Africa leader have been more interested in advancing themselves than their nation. This is shame and very sad. All the problems enumerated above can be solved when West Africa countries open entirely their borders to each other, when West Africa countries take the advantage of having one currency, when there is an effective plan to build infrastructure within the West Africa sub-region, when strong institutions such as the police, the courts are put in place and well financed. After these structures have been put in place, we can then think about the federation of West Africa states.

YAW BOATEN.
NEW JERSEY


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