Ghana is slowly, but surely, working its way to becoming a middle-class economy. But, not everything is rolling along smoothly just yet. Reforms are invariably on the cards across the country – and the different levels of the economy. Each change brings with it the hopes for a better, more economically secure Ghana, starting with the most vulnerable.
In many regions of Ghana, schooling for young girls is pushed to the side when they become wives. Plural marriage is allowed as part of a long tradition in Ghana, just as it is in many other African countries. While it may be culturally accepted, it can be concerning when younger women opt to leave school in order to fill their roles as wife and mother. The United Nations, in pursuit of its Millennium Development Goals, is concerned about the negative economic ramifications of uneducated women. Indeed, higher maternal and infant death rates along with the spread of viruses such as HIV/AIDS can be directly correlated with low levels of education.
In an effort to boost Ghana’s efforts towards maximising education in rural districts, the UK government’s Department for International Development has gotten involved with a programme aimed at keeping young girls in school . This programme uses a combination of new and old communications technology as it offers video learning transmitted over satellite to learners in remote areas. It’s certainly got people talking, which is one thing that the UN Millennium Development Goals were meant to do – promote a healthy dialogue about the causes and effects of poverty.
But, the vulnerable are not the only victims of injustice and inequality as was seen quite clearly at the recent World Cup in Brazil. President John Mahama flew a plane of money over to the Black Stars on the South American continent to allay their fears of non-payment. This followed personal promises and discussions with team members and coaches. And, while there can always be discussion about allocation of funds, that’s not the point precisely. In the past, African players have been known to demand – but never receive – the funds promised to them for playing in World Cup games. But, if all the other players on all the other teams are getting paid, why do the African teams need to beg for their due? As a result of the dramatic airmail money gram, it appears that the Black Stars may never need to worry about their bonuses again . With a little help from FIFA, everything will be signed and validated up front. There’s no need to worry in 2018.
And, if the Black Stars players are smart, they’ll join the emerging middle class in the development of retirement funds and other savings initiatives. Although the offering of these products has been limited in Ghana to date, it doesn’t look to stay that way for long. Johannesburg-based investment firm, Alexander Forbes is eyeing the Ghanaian marketplace as a potential foothold for expansion into the rest of the continent.
The one thing that all these reforms have in common? A little helping hand. And, that’s to be expected. Ghana’s been doing a lot of hard work and the rest of the world is beginning to take notice.