What’s Really Happening with Ghana

President Akufo-Addo would really like us to concentrate on some of his nationalistic drives, such as his promotion of the local arts. He’s not wrong. The development of local culture and literature is a means to deep nationalism. And generally speaking, when artists can make a living undertaking their craft, it’s a good sign that the economy is moving in the right direction.

But, that’s not the Akufo-Addo news that Ghanaians have zeroed in on; they’re far more concerned about the number of ministers he has appointed. With 110 ministers, it’s the most top-heavy government that the country has ever seen. The president is stressing the necessity of his appointments as a means to stimulate the economy and make fast changes where they’re needed the most. His political opponents, however, aren’t biting on that line.

It’s possible that government will continue to grow. The current Parliamentary chamber was configured in 2013 to accommodate more members of parliament; it currently seats 275. It appears that the Indian government is prepared to assist with the development of a 400-seater chamber. Can we expect to see more elected officials? And will that slow policy growth or speed it?

Still, whether it’s quickly or slowly, there is much to be done. And, while large governments can be susceptible to greater corruption, they may also allow for greater entrenchment and enforcement of rules. It’s possible these chess moves will allow the president to deliver on his campaign promises, but only time will tell.

When international news sources report, “Accidents ranging from deaths caused by mass flooding to petrol tanker explosions happen sporadically in Ghana because of lax regulations and disregard for rules,” at the end of stories about the devastating deaths of 20 teenagers on a trip to the Kintampo Waterfalls, it’s clear work needs to be done.

There are many willing to jump on board; it’s not just the Indian government looking to develop the Ghanaian parliament. Germany has just announced a €20 million project to deal with Accra’s eWaste issue. That includes a processing plant and health station in Agbogbloshie where the damages of this type of pollution are easily apparent.

Money isn’t the only thing coming into the country either. With the Americans taking a hard line stance against Syrian refugees, it may be that Ghana welcomes more of those fleeing the war in that country to its shore. Ghana’s asylum policy is rather generous even as the country isn’t truly prepared to accommodate many refugees.

The big-hearted approach stands in stark contrast to the current leanings of the United States (which has in recent years also denied 63 percent of Ghanaian visa applications). But as much as Ghana is dealing with its own problems, the desire of both new presidents to steer the media away from controversial policies is evident. And, in both cases, it’s not really working.

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