Currency and Light? Yes, That’s a Question

Across Africa, not just Ghana, things are changing.  The continent is simultaneously advancing in some areas while forced to tackle some age-old development questions in others.  In some countries, like Ghana, political stability is becoming the norm, but it still needs to deal with the difficulties of its neighbours more often than it might like.  Even when taken out of the sphere of politics, events in particular countries force Ghana’s hand.  (Think Ebola and the regional response if you need an example.)

And the big news of the moment… across Africa?  Money.  You can take any side of the development debate that you want.  You can argue that the United States currency and investment actions are “unfair” or “self-centered” until you’re blue in the face.  But, that country has just as much right to protect its interests and people as any other country, no matter how much the odds are stacked in any one direction.  And no matter what you argue, there’s no escaping the effect the Fed’s actions have had on African countries.  Ghana certainly hasn’t escaped plummeting exchange rates, nor has any other country on the continent.  It’s enough to make anyone nervous, but it prompts a question.  What can Ghana do to recover from the currency slide?  (One thing it’s not doing is printing new denominations or money, as claimed across social media channels.)

What can be done?  Well, it seems this is where light comes into the picture.  Ghana is experiencing an electricity crisis similar to the South Africans.  It boils down to power generation in both countries.  And, widespread load-shedding is impacting the economy more severely than the average Ghanaian can imagine.  In a recent BBC report, the Ghanaian correspondent, Sammy Darko, depicts the difficulties faced by businesses.  It’s not just a question of external investment; it boils down to production capacity.  If you can’t produce, you can’t hold onto your staff – that’s just the basics of business.  At this moment, the lack of power is an irritation for the citizens, but it’s only going to deepen the effects of the currency slide.  And, solving this issue can’t wait for the next round of election promises – though life in the dark is sure to sway many of the on-the-fence voters.

In the midst of load shedding and the terrifying currency landslide (which is likely to get worse before it gets better – actually making it a great time for foreign investment so long as there’s electricity to fuel production) the Ghanaian ambassador to the United Nations in New York has retired.  Ken Kanda has certainly had an extraordinary career in the Foreign Service.  But now, he asks Ghanaian expats to return home with him to build the country.  He has a point.  In order to develop Ghana to the levels it should have, the country will need its best and brightest.  But, there’s something else to consider – many, many people rely on the remittances of their countrymen abroad.  And, without power, that may be the one ray of light that people cling to at the moment.

Skip to toolbar