Surpluses and Deficits

There was an election and then it was the holiday season. So much to do – and, for the most part, the electricity to do it. But now it’s time to settle into the business of 2017. Despite all the pressing issues confronting Ghanaians, much of the country is focused on football.

It’s African Cup of Nations time again. Today’s match against Uganda is a biggie; anyone that has half an interest in the beautiful game is excitedly making his way through the day in anticipation. Then it’s Mali and then… the big match against Egypt. How can anyone focus on the rest of their lives when soccer is propelling the nation?

But, keeping a clear mind is exactly what coach Avram Grant expects of his players – today and through the rest of the tournament. Let’s hope the team can keep themselves in the moment as the rest of the country will struggle desperately to forget past hurts.

It’s certainly a lot easier than focusing on the realities. For example, there’s the 48 percent unemployment rate for youths up to 24 years old – and that number is expected to rise over the next 10 years. How is one supposed to pay the exorbitant rate of 30 percent of income on rent when there’s nothing coming in? It’s difficult enough to justify that 30 percent when you’re making money.

Why are rents so high? Well, the shortage of 1.7 million homes probably has something to do with it. That number is set to reach two million in 2018. It’s amazing, when you look at it that way, that the government only attempted 9900 houses as austerity measures to fight unemployment. After all, experts believe that 200,000 new units need to be built every year for the next ten to make a real difference. Of course, they also say some US $34 million is needed to make that happen.

No one knows what relations with the international community will look like in the coming years, however. The election of Donald Trump in the United States leaves a lot of questions. Even as the US Ambassador to Ghana pledges to continue strengthening support and ties between the countries, no one can be sure what policies and which appointed officials will remain to support programmes designed by previous administrations.

Luckily, the world relies on many influences – as does Ghana. A new loan was just signed with the UK Export Finance organisation. This provides $310 million to GE Oil and Gas. The aim is an oil and gas project in Ghana. With any luck, it will lead to more stability and reduced costs for electricity, but we’ll need to see how it plays out.

Perhaps what the country should be doing is uncovering the most efficient way to transform plastic waste into electricity or fuel. Though Ghanaian cities have been drowning in plastic waste for years, the government has failed to pass meaningful regulations and restrictions.

Recycling is, of course, one solution, but maybe it’s time to develop something that will knock the world flat. You know, something like our Shocker drink that totally floored international singer-songwriter Ed Sheeran. If we could do that with Ghana’s plastic waste, it might just alleviate so many other problems; it may even take people’s mind off the yearly fight for an elusive football trophy.

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