Even if we had accurate political polls, no one would be able to tell you whether the country is set to elect the incumbent president, John Mahama, or if we’ll see Nana Afuko-Addo in power next year. But there are some indications tied into the present state of the Ghanaian problems that are likely to make a difference when it’s time to vote.
For a start, it’s important to look at the power situation in Ghana. Sure, Dumsor has effectively ended, but that doesn’t solve the problem. Not only does the cessation of (planned) power outages resemble a bid for reelection, it’s not as though it hasn’t affected the economy – and worse. The cost of electricity is horrendously untenable for most of the population, and the Mahama government has reaffirmed its preference for coal power production which is dangerous, costly, and clearly unsustainable. With new parties interested in developing nuclear power plants in Ghana, Mahama will need to change course – or just keep running the country’s electrical supply into the ground.
It’s a little funny just how much power can affect the entire economy. SES Satellites are now operating in over two million Ghanaian homes. That’s a growth of 18 percent since 2014. Satellite broadcasting has the ability to expand different areas of the economy, from arts and culture to infrastructure and job creation. But who was going to sign up for a new satellite when they could watch it sporadically, at best.
There are things you can buy when the power is out and the economy is rocky. Not the things you need to survive, like food… but the opposite. According to the Ghana National Commission of Small Arms, there are about 2.3 million civilian-owned firearms in the country. Yikes. And, if you’re ready for the double yikes, the authorities don’t have the appropriate records for over a million of those weapons. Sure, this isn’t the sort of thing that leads to the election of a president, but the nod towards the ability to commit crimes is something that the public should take seriously.
And, although Ghana is relatively peaceful, it’s possible to be afraid – and there are people that know it all too well. The Global Slavery Index Report suggests that Ghana is number 34 out of 167 – for the highest number of modern slaves in the country. Ghana isn’t the most populous country in Africa, far from it. So, how do we account for the estimated 103,300 enslaved people in the country? Isn’t that something we should focus on while we work to get guns off the street?
Though, to be honest, it’s possible the government has bigger problems. After all Ghana’s total Eurobond debt is sitting at US$ 3.5 billion. Not only is the second highest amount of all the African countries, it accounts for more than 10 percent of total African Eurobond debt. (Only Ethiopia owes more, in case you’re wondering.) And, about 79 percent of the total debt was secured under the Mahama-led government. That’s a little scary, especially combined with the president’s penchant for coal power.
Perhaps that’s why Afuko-Addo ranks higher as an influential politician according to the Ghana’s Most Influential Awards. He’s listed as number four, while Mahama sits in 14th. That’s rather telling, isn’t it? Still, we’ll need to wait and see.