Editor's Note: As Ghana celebrates 59 years of Independence, yen.com.gh journalist, Charles Ayitey assesses the rate of development across Ghana's major sectors to ascertain whether Ghana after independence has improved or not.
As Ghanaians - old and young, great and small - come together to celebrate the long journey taken since independence, a big question to ponder over is how Ghana has fared 59 years after regaining independence from her colonial master, the British.
For lovers of African political history, it remains a fact that Ghana, then the Gold Coast, was one of the most respected and important countries on the African continent. From the advancements in traditional social organisation to the Great Ashanti Kingdom, the fierce stretch of warriors, and the knowledge in metal technology, Ghana has always held a special place on the continent.
From the dark ages through to the colonial era and post colonial times, Ghana has some great gains these 59 years. But how does Ghana measure up in the areas of education, politics, social structure, international relations, economic finance or even energy over the 59 years of independence?
The educational sector of Ghana in 2016 is not the educational structure of Ghana in the pre-colonial times let alone the post independence era. Much strides have been made especially through Ghana's first president, Dr Kwame Nkrumah of 1957 -1966. Dr Kwame Nkrumah is revered through the years as the president who set the stage running for Ghana's educational sector - taking into cognisance the hundreds of secondary schools, specialized institutions and Universities which centered on the best way of preparing the Ghanaian to take charge of the affairs of his country.
But although it remains good enough to celebrate the advances made by Dr Nkrumah, one would argue that the pre-set objective of Ghana's educational sector transformed from the objective of entrepreneurship and innovation to a narrowed focus on employee-ism and job-search.
Today, thousands of University graduates are out of the Universities with that dependency syndrome ( the search for a job). Blame them not! The blame rather has to be channeled to our current educational system which is foiled with rote learning, colonial curricula, less motivated teachers and a general non-conducive learning environment. Want to know the state of Ghana's educational sector 59 years after independence? It is nothing but a mounting heap of unemployed graduates!
Ghana's political dispensation has truly transformed from the doldrums of dictatorship and the culture of silence to a blooming multi-party democracy. In fact, with almost 24 years of democracy under the fourth republic, Ghana has been revered globally as the 'torch-bearer of Africa's Democracy.'
But even as we celebrate the joys and improvement that democracy has bestowed upon Ghana 24 years on after the military junta of Jerry Rawlings (and many other previous juntas), one cannot forget to measure the state and advancement of democracy in recent times. With a fledgling free press, highly engaging multi-party dispensation, fairly transparent governance system, Ghana has attracted to herself a boom in business activities especially from the private sector ( although most foreign investors) which has totally changed the face and outlook of the West African state.
Ghana's political regime however has come under a barrage of criticism especially in the ills of abuse, proliferation, and corruption. Ghana remains one of the African states with the highest indices of corruption, according to anti-graft agency Transparency International (TI). There is hardly a day that passes by without an accusation or a revelations of corruption being reported. In the last two decades, Ghana is feared to have recorded over 3,500 cases of state-induced corruption with less than a quarter of these cases shoved under the carpet of partisan politics.
Local and international economists will argue that the fiscal strength of any country is based on its macro-economic indicators. Well, Ghana is no exception to this formula of rating. Since independence, Ghana's economic prospects have been twitched not to the interest of the nation but rather that of the ''politician.''
The teething depletion of Ghana's economic strength over the past 59 years is feared to have been mainly due to the fact of her economy being an import-led rather than export-led economy! In fact, 60 to 85 percent of goods and services consumed in Ghana are imported from other economic states.
We may say that Ghana was the attraction of the world during the 'Operation Feed Yourself'' era of former president, Agyeampong - but that can't be said of the nation in recent times. With a burgeoning external and public debt stock in billions of dollars; the zero percent growth in the nation's agriculture sector; a continuous growth in inflation rates; and the free falling of in the the Cedi, the state of Ghana's economy 59 years after independence can be described as that of over-dependence and zero growth.
Foreign Policy and International Relations
What is Ghana's Foreign Policy? Well, having followed the speech of the late President John Evans Attah Mills at the United Nations on 23 September 2011, one is left wondering where Ghana's foreign policy direction is heading.
It is a well known fact that a country's foreign policy is determined by how that country safeguards the interests of its citizens, the nation and moral principles within the international environment. It is determined by how a country would act in relation to other countries. For Ghana, the government's foreign policy should show how the country sees itself on the world stage in relation to how that position will secure the interests of the people of Ghana - but is that the case 59 years after independence?
After the overthrow of Dr Kwame Nkrumah in the 1966 coup, Ghana's foreign policy direction was watered down considerably to play second fiddle to US foreign policy. This watered-down policy was diluted even further when the Busia government decided to frolic with the apartheid and racist regime of South Africa by abandoning support for the liberation struggles in Southern Africa. Unfortunately Ghana's foreign policy has remained a mystery till now.
And who can forget the ongoing debate about the resettlement of two former Guantanamo Bay prisoners in Ghana and the glorification of the move by Foreign Minster Hanna Tettah and President John Dramani Mahama himself? Yes we may have a foreign policy as a country but let's face it, does it work?
Whenever the good old topic of energy is debated, one cannot begin without remembering the historic achievements under the administration of Kwame Nkrumah. Talk of the great old Akosombo Dam which in previous times was known to be the major supply of electricity to neighboring countries as Ivory Coast, Togo, Burkina Faso and even Nigeria.
The state of Ghana's energy sector is that of a mixture of progress and retrogression. For progress, one can lay claim to the large stretch of thermal plants and subsidiary dams accross the country as built by both the current and past administration. In fact, one can talk of the divestiture and private-public partnerships which has seen Ghana gain immensely since the discovery of oil.
The mention of retrogression is in the sense that even though we may lay claim to all of these advancements, the state of Ghana's enrgy sector is that of depression! Ghana is currently reaping barely 3 percent of royalties accrued from the exploration of oil in the upstream and downstream sector.
Ghana owes huge debts to the Nigeria Gas (N-Gas) company which recently saw the latter cutting gas supply to the entire country. Also one cannot forget about the over-reliance on the Akosombo Dam which has plunged the entire nation into darkness year in and year out as successive governments just do not know the road map to fixing its subsequent energy crisis. The state of Ghana's energy sector is currently that of disappointment and dissatisfaction!
So, as Ghana celebrates her 59th anniversary since regaining independence, it is clear for all to see, that the 'West African superpower' has a long way to go in terms of improving and maintaining progress across its major sectors!