As 2012 draws to a close, it is only natural to reflect over the past twelve months and the impact of the year in history. Ghana certainly saw its fair share of changes and progress.
Politically, the beginning of 2012 was as calm as can be expected in an election year. Parties bickered with each other over what was done, what could be done, and what really should not have been done. It was largely background noise as each candidate sought to improve their popularity. In the second half of the year, just as the political parties were about to launch into full campaign mode, tragedy struck.
The sudden passing of President John Mills, on 24 July 2012, created unexpected conditions for the election in December. There were certainly objections raised to the man in the hot seat, but when it came down to the wire on 7 December, the country still voted in favour of the National Democratic Congress (NDC) running the government. The election was close, however, as the New Patriotic Party (NPP) proved having lost only by a small percentage of votes, however, contested the results may have been. President John Dramani Mahama, the four month incumbent, was re-elected to run the country.
Whatever the political turmoil, the country’s economy continued to grow with 8.7% GDP growth reported in the first quarter of the year. While the numbers may mean nothing to the man on the ground, local businesses certainly would have felt the effect. Add to this, the number of new initiatives launched, such as the Business Launchpad Competition funded by Enablis Ghana, Accra Brewery Ltd and UT Bank. And of course, the National Youth Employment Programme (NYEP) was hard at work developing entrepreneurial training programmes aimed at retaining talent within the country’s borders.
As always, sports took centre stage for much of the year. Ghana joined the world in the Summer Olympics hosted in London during July and August 2012. The Ghanaian Olympic team sent nine hopefuls to compete, and a further four competed in the Paralympics games just a few weeks later. Although no new medals have been added to Ghana’s total, their performance marked the continued importance of sports in the mind of the people. A fourth place position in the 2012 African Cup of Nations (AFCON) was also disappointing, but a 7-0 win over Lesotho in June provided the team with a solid points difference towards the 2014 FIFA World Cup Qualifiers. The country now sets its sights on the upcoming 2013 AFCON. Less popular sports also saw development throughout the year; even the Accra Open hosted its largest event ever.
Whether it was because of the elections, or not, the arts continued to showcase stunning Ghanaian talent. From the Ghana Fashion and Design Week in the beginning October to the launch of Music Week Ghana at the end of the month, local artists displayed their prowess while creating opportunities for national and international sponsors a chance to reach increasingly cultural-conscious youth of the country.
2012 was a big year for Ghana. Whether your interest was political, sporting, or cultural, the country continued to roll onwards and upwards. Despite unforeseen tragedies, Ghana was a hotspot of positive change on the African continent… and 2013 promises to reap even bigger rewards