COVID 19; the Golden economic opportunity for Ghana and Africa
COVID 19 has had a dire impact on the global economy; no doubt.
Growth has dibbed, even though countries have gone beyond their budgetary allocations. The concentration is now on health at the expense of other infrastructure and social needs.
It is estimated that Covid-19 could cost the world economy $2.7 trillion Equivalent to UK’s economy.
In Sub-Saharan Africa, economic growth is forecast to fall sharply from 2.4% in 2019 to -2.1 to -5.1% in 2020, ‘the first recession in the region over the past 25 years’, the World Bank reports.
“The crisis is likely to push millions of households into poverty. Food security is at risk because of trade disruptions, lower agricultural production and fewer food imports. And with 90 percent of people working in informal jobs, it is harder to reach workers with the support they need. African countries need resources today to help contain and combat this pandemic, and to safeguard lives and livelihoods” (AFRONOMICS: The Economic Impact of COVID-19 in Africa)
In Ghana, real GDP growth for 2020 is projected to decline sharply from 6.8% to 2.6% as a result of the outbreak.
“But could we think differently about the crisis?”, Charles Nanabanyin Onuawonto Bissue, a Presidential Staffer said, as he triggers a national dialogue on the exploration and amplification of local solutions that could aid the restoration of the Ghanaian economy and Africa in general, during and after the COVID 19 pandemic.
He believes the thinking around the crisis will determine the spate at which normalcy is restore, and further measures taken to transform the economy.
“… it could be a blessing or a curse for us. But what I see is that, for Ghana as a country, I think we’re well prepared for things like this” he stated with some conviction.
Mr. Bissue recounted that the country has made tremendous gains through a history of economic restoration and transformative programs, which are being fortified by the current government under President Nana Addo’s “Ghana Beyond Aid Agenda”.
He remarked that the success of which has provided the right atmosphere ‘cushioning’ Ghana from the scorch of the COVID 19 pandemic. He avers that the country has been more resilient, owing to government’s commitment at fulfilling its manifesto.
“…and I think this is unprecedented in the history of Ghana. You realize that within the manifesto we went free education, improving on agriculture, the energy sector, one district one factory, the mining sector and all that. And then making the economic resolute so that’s our balance of payments would be stronger.
“The Ghana Beyond Aid is basically a program that will lead us into becoming an industrialized country where we actually export more, and import less so that our balance of payments would be stronger, our exchange rate will be stronger, and then so that we can actually negotiate. And also, where in foreign direct investment, you create an environment where other countries would actually invest in your country” he said.
He mentioned that the Ghanaian people share in the dream and aspiration of the President, and as such had managed “to rely on its own produce to satisfy various needs”
“We are now eating what we grow, producing our own nose mask and ventilators, developing hand-washing devices and many others. This is the spirit that the Ghana Beyond Aid strives” Mr Bissue intimated.
Repositioning Africa, Post-Pandemic
The African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCTA) will provide the right platform to support the restoration and growth of distressed African economies, after the pandemic. With Ghana hosting the secretariat, and promising to be the fastest growing economy in the world, the surest way to sustain gains, is to have Ghanaians leverage on the government’s industrialization program of the One District One Factory.
Mr. Bissue assessed that partnerships among African countries and other potential investors around the globe, will be the golden opportunity in maximizing value from our natural resources.
“Now they are looking for new trading partners. Ghana, we need to position ourselves. Other areas are looking at it” he added.
He however stressed that Africans need to identify with economic opportunities that could be exploited to support its growth. He cried that the traditional production and export of raw materials need to end, and effort made towards value addition.
“… in a competitive world, you look at comparative advantage where we can actually produce better and efficient than another country. And if we have the bauxite, the gold and all that, and then Dubai, look at Dubai but the gold emanates from here. So what we can do is that because the resources are here, let’s produce at a cheap cost, where we are going to have comparative advantage over another country and export so that we can actually strengthen our balance of payments” Mr Bissue explained.