Apr 12th, 2012 9:00 AM UTC
By Guest Blogger
Have you ever been to the movies and seen a trailer for a film that you previously had no interest in seeing and then suddenly thought to yourself “That is a film I CANNOT MISS”?
That was the idea behind GAVI’s most recent production. It’s a three-minute film by a talented young American film maker called Ryan Youngblood that I stumbled across in Kigali one day and I think he and producer Doune Porter more than fulfilled their brief.
On April 26, during WHO’s first-ever World Immunization Week, Ghana will introduce not just one but two new vaccines into its immunisation programme.
The pneumococcal and rotavirus vaccines will protect infants against the leading causes of the two biggest killers of children in Ghana and throughout the developing world – pneumonia and diarrhoea.
The GAVI Alliance and our partners UNICEF and WHO are working with Ghana’s Ministry of Health to plan a massive celebration in Accra at which the first children will be vaccinated.
On the same day, halfway across the world in Atlanta, Georgia, USA, our friends at the UN Foundation will be launching the Shot@Life campaign to encourage the American public to champion vaccines as one of the most cost-effective ways to save children’s lives around the world.
It’s such an exciting time to be working in global health and, as more and more power brokers embrace the value of investing in people’s health, we are literally seeing progress across the world on a daily basis.
As you can imagine, back in Ghana our colleagues are feeling more than a little pressure and this film brilliantly captures the careful, methodical planning process that is involved in introducing new vaccines into the national health programme.
It also portrays the skill, wit and energy that Ghanaian health professionals are investing in this extraordinary initiative.
Like the best movie trailers, our little film has all the right ingredients to make you want to know what happens next: handsome men, beautiful women, tragedy, suspense, despair, hope and raw determination!
Watch it now, you won’t be disappointed.
Mar 28th, 2012 4:38 PM UTC
By Erin Hohlfelder
Last week I had the opportunity to sit down with Mercy Ahun from the GAVI Alliance Secretariat. When I first met her two years ago, she was GAVI’s Director of Program Delivery, but recently she was named GAVI’s Special Representative to GAVI-Eligible Countries. In this role, she serves as a bridge between GAVI, countries receiving GAVI support, and donors, and she works to develop customized approaches that deliver even more effective results on the ground.
ONE is really excited that in less than 1 month, Ghana will become the first country to roll out pneumococcal and rotavirus vaccines at the same time. Especially as a Ghanaian, what does this milestone mean to you?
It’s been exciting! I remember the first time I was talking to Ghana’s EPI (Extended Program on Immunization) Manager about this, and I said, are you sure you want to do this? And he said yes—we are close to achieving MDG 5 (reducing child deaths); doing this allows us to hit two birds with one stone. And when I started looking at their vaccine programs, and saw that they already had achieved high coverage levels of other vaccines, I said yes, I think the system is strong enough to do this. And I think it is important to document the process in Ghana so then others can learn from it.
I go to Ghana about six times in a year, and we have an excellent relationship not just with the EPI Manager but with other groups in the Ministry of Health and with the partners. When we’re in Ghana, you can catch the excitement. I remember that one person said to me, “It feels like the whole world is looking at us”, and to that I just think: wow.
What does a country like Ghana need to do to prepare itself for a vaccines roll out?
I think one of the most important parts is having the needed cold chain equipment for the new vaccines. Giving out two vaccines at once requires a major expansion, and Ghana planed it so that the major 10 regions in Ghana will each have the right fridges and storage units.
The Ghana Health Service also partners with WHO, UNICEF and others; together with community groups, they have developed 8 committees that are planning for this launch. There are groups focused on logistics, training, and communication which meet separately, and they also brought in a professional advertising company from the private sector to guide them. They have done a survey of local knowledge, attitudes, and practices, and they are using the findings to design appropriate messages for communities. So much is on the line that needs to be done, but things are on track.
How have you seen African leaders respond to GAVI’s work? What do they say about vaccines, and their own governments’ role in supporting them?
I think African leaders recognize the importance of immunization. President Kibaki of Kenya launched a new vaccine himself in Kenya last year. I was in Cameroon and it was the First Lady’s office which led the charge there. Ghana is expecting the President to do the launch in April.
But we also know that it’s about more than just the launch, and more than just about Presidential leadership. We know that when countries apply for GAVI support, all the ministers of health and finance need to sign the application too, because GAVI support is not for free. They need to make a commitment of their own. Since we introduced a co-financing policy in 2008, almost all countries have provided financial support for vaccines, which shows their own commitment. Come 2016, we expect that 16 countries will have a ceremony because they will be off of GAVI’s support and increasing their own contributions to immunization financing. I think it’s fantastic.
In your time working for GAVI, what have you found to be the most rewarding?
I think the most rewarding thing has been working with others. We are an alliance. We bring together the strengths of organizations from the public sector (like WHO or UNICEF), from the private sector, from foundations, and from other partners to develop immunization plans with countries. I have found that most rewarding because I think when you involve your recipient countries in the policy-development process, it is more likely to be sustainable because they feel ownership over the programs.
You and your colleagues carry a lot of responsibility at GAVI, ensuring that the world’s poorest children receive life-saving vaccinations. What do you like to do on your days off?
I have three kids—two are teenagers who are still home with me—so I like chatting with them. We are Ghanaians in Switzerland, so sometimes there are cultural challenges, and we discuss these things with each other. I like singing, dancing, attending church services. Really I try not to look at my blackberry, especially on the weekends, and enjoy myself.
Feb 9th, 2012 5:19 PM UTC
By Tom Wallace
Yesterday I attended a packed event in the United Kingdom Houses of Parliament to hear His Excellency John Kufuor, Former President of Ghana and 2011 World Food Prize Laureate, speak on the progress his country has made on extreme poverty and hunger.
His Excellency John Kufuor won the World Food Prize in 2011 for his international and domestic leadership on promoting the value of agriculture in reducing poverty. Ghana is now recognised as the first developing country to reach the First Millennium Development Goal: Halve Extreme Hunger and Poverty.
His Excellency explained to the crowd how this remarkable progress was no accident. He recognised the role of Ghanaian debt cancellation, prioritising agriculture, putting in place clear and comprehensive plans of action and receiving donor support from the US Millennium Challenge Corporation in allowing Ghana to achieve this. However it was the economic reforms, a national school nutrition programme strengthened and substantially increased public investment in agriculture that took place under his stewardship that resulted in the greatest benefit. It was this public investment in agriculture that was a major factor behind the halving of hunger and poverty and the increase in Ghana’s gross domestic product, which quadrupled from £2.6 billion in 2000 to £11 billion.
However the former president was keen to stress to the crowd that investment alone did not bring about this change but Ghana’s comprehensive “joined up” agriculture plan. His Excellently told the crowd how providing farmers with education and farming tools isn’t enough without access to markets, and how diversification may not be possible without access to credit and micro finance. The Ghanaian plan considered all of these things in a holistic way, but ensured agriculture was the priority.
This agriculture prioritisation is crucial. Two-thirds of Africa, and in particular the poorest Africans, rely on agriculture for their livelihoods, and therefore, His Excellency said “The best way to break the back of poverty is through agriculture”.
His Excellency John Kufuor’s leadership has helped lift millions out of poverty and hunger, but former present also noted leadership is needed at all levels to tackle hunger and poverty around the world. That is why we call on the G8 and the G20 to maintain their commitments to agricultural development and to align their investments with the plans of African countries. Together by fulfilling these pledges and building local knowledge we can ensure agriculture remains a global priority and so help lift millions out of hunger and poverty.
Feb 1st, 2012 6:00 PM UTC
By Garth Moore
Mac-Jordan Degadjor is a Ghanaian social media entrepreneur and rising star among global tech bloggers. The 26-year-old recently spoke about the positive effects of social media at the TEDxYouthInspire conference in Ghana’s capital city of Accra and was spotlighted in the Christian Science Monitor’s “Thirty Ideas from People Under 30.” We asked Mac-Jordan to explain why mobile tech advancements are important for Ghana’s economic and social growth.
Why is Ghana ready for a mobile technology boom? Are investors looking to Ghana as a market ready to advance with mobile?
Anytime I’m asked if Ghana is ready for the mobile technology boom, my answer is always YES. In Ghana, there are two major organizations providing locals with the business and technology skills they need to leverage ideas into successful mobile web companies: Meltwater Entrepreneurial School of Technology and Mobile Web Ghana.
New opportunities are showing up that make it possible for low-income economies to leapfrog other countries by adopting technologies that are suitable to their specific circumstances. I’m happy to say that Ghana is taking that bold step in adopting new mobile technologies. Take a critical look at the continent: Africa has more than 110 million Internet users, a number that is poised to grow by 2400 percent in this decade alone.
What about Ghana’s market makes it ready for mobile phone technology? How are smartphones being introduced into the market? Can bandwidth improvements keep up with the technology?
African governments are aggressively developing broadband and information/communications (ICT) policies in order to properly regulate the industry while allowing the market to work its magic. In Ghana, mobile penetration currently stands at 85.5 percent, which means that out of a population of about 25 million, there are 20 million subscribers to at least one of the country’s five active mobile networks (MTN, Vodafone, TiGO, Airtel and Expresso). These days, smartphones are being used in all areas. By 2013, Africa will have 11 undersea cables (including one in Ghana by Glo Mobile), which is likely to result in increased bandwidth and reduced cost to consumers.
From banking to agriculture, mobile technology plays a vital role in the life of the average Ghanaian. Here are two examples of how mobile or smartphones are being used in Ghana:
Esoko is an agricultural market information platform managed on the web and delivered via mobile technology in Ghana and other parts of Africa. Individuals, agri-business, and government agencies use Esoko to collect and send out market data using simple text messaging. By way of SMS, the Esoko platform provides automatic and personalized price alerts to farmers in rural areas.
The Grameen Foundation is also developing and distributing mobile phone-based applications to help the poor better manage their health, through such programs as the Mobile Technology for Community Health (MOTECH) initiative.
How are younger people in Ghana helping to push mobile advancements? As a younger person, why is tech growth so important to you and your circles?
Mobile technology is the future for Africa. In Ghana, the only way to access the Internet among the younger generation is via mobile and smartphones.
The greatest opportunity for growth will come from technological innovation and the adoption of new technologies in service sectors, such as banking, insurance, health, education and agriculture. These growths in technology are very important to me and my networks because they help shape the socioeconomic aspect of our lives and bridge the gap between people in Ghana and those in other parts of the world.
Can you describe some of the apps that could come from tech innovations that would help people in Ghana?
The catalog of mobile applications in Ghana seems to be growing by the day. We have a host of programs including mobile banking, SMS alerts for farmers and agri-business, chat functions, stock market updates and photo-sharing platforms.
When it comes to mobile apps from Africa, there’s been mention of Ushahidi, iCow and Mocality from Kenya, and Ummeli and TXTALert from South Africa. In Ghana, app providers like Nkyea, Esoko, ShopAfrica53, NandiMobile, iWallet – Dream Oval, Retail Tower and Streemio have gained a lot of popularity.
Can you describe the benefits, if any, to government transparency and democracy that mobile tech can bring to Ghana (e.g. promoting accountability, coordinating political events, and inspiring social activism)?
Universal access to affordable information is one area in which mobile technology will be of great importance in Ghana. There is widespread consensus that ICTs offer one solution to this problem, with mobile phones showing particular promise already.
In Ghana, smartphones are more affordable than computers. They require less infrastructure, do not demand much technological knowledge (users do not even have to be literate), and are very durable. With increased use of mobile phones in Ghana, citizen participation in all social aspects of life will be monitored and reported.
As a citizen journalist, the mobile phone serves as a great tool in my reporting and social activism. Bloggers in Ghana will use their mobile phones to monitor and report on the December elections later this year. This will be first time citizens have the chance to play a participatory role in the elections.
Jan 16th, 2012 4:46 PM UTC
By Michael Healy
Yesterday saw the Observer newspaper in the UK publish a number of great articles about aid and development where ONE’s work was mentioned. We wanted to share our success with you and urge you to get over to their website to check out the coverage for yourself.
The paper’s editor John Mulholland joined Bono and economist Jeffrey Sachs on a recent trip to Ghana. The resulting interview and article addresses the progress being made in countries like Ghana when smart aid is delivered. In the interview Jeff Sachs lays out the “dos and don’ts” of aid giving: “Aid works when it’s practical, when it’s focused, when it’s targeted, when it’s an investment, when it is part of a strategy; and aid does not work when it’s money handed over in an envelope to a friendly ally, especially in a war zone or when it’s a payoff for some other diplomatic support.” And praises the UK’s Department for International Development for their results-based approach to aid. This approach, is mentioned again by paper’s editorial which argues that progress is being made, although we have yet to perfect aid. “Some money is wasted, some is undoubtedly lost to corruption and some aid programmes do not deliver meaningful results. But these are not good enough reasons to abandon foreign aid, any more than the failures of the financial system are reasons to abandon capitalism. Reflect and correct, yes. Abandon, no.”
The article on the trip to Ghana (with the excellent quote “In 10 years Ghana may not need aid” as its headline) touches on the great work done by programmes such as the Global Fund, which ONE campaigners have supported for many years and (RED) continues to fund. The article announces that “By any measure Ghana is a success story”.
The last word is probably best left to Bono, who argues that:
“It’s impossible, I believe, to keep up the scam that brutal, ugly, dumb poverty is something we can live with. That’s a scam. You can’t live with it if you see it. We bring over tough US military guys and US senators to Africa. When they see it up close – you can’t live with it. The only way you can live with it is to lie to yourself and pretend it’s not what people say it is.”
Nov 16th, 2011 1:02 PM UTC
By ONE Partners
Anabig Ayaab is a 50 year old farmer from Tariganga, Garu-Tempane District, in the dry Savannah Zone of the Upper East Region of Ghana. Also a wife and mother of seven, Anabig has been struggling with how shifting weather patterns have been affecting her ability to feed her family and make a living.
Three years ago, Anabig was among a group of women who took part in the Village Savings and Loans Project implemented by CARE International in Northern Ghana. The project aims to build capacity and further empower women like Anabig, and communities like Tariganga, to diversify their farming systems and make good choices as they adapt to the impacts of climate change.
As with most of the families in Tariganga, Anabig depends almost entirely on the land for producing food and generating income through crop farming, dry season gardening, animal rearing, and petty trade. But the growing frequency of severe drought continues to destroy crops, reduce the availability of water, increase disease in animals and spread hunger and poverty across the region. For Anabig’s family the lack of food during the dry season has become a yearly inevitability.
“In recent years, farming has become more difficult. The soils are less fertile, seeds have become more expensive to acquire and the rains come late and leave early”, says Anabig.
After taking part in the savings and loan project, Anabig put her new knowledge of farming practices to work. Making compost instead of buying inorganic fertilizer, recognizing that deforestation hurts her environment and understanding how best to invest in her farm, Anabig has seen an important increase in her crop yields.
“I was able to acquire improved seeds of maize from the seed growers by taking a loan from my savings group. I bought enough seeds, which I shared with my husband. The results are very exciting. On my own, I harvested 5 bags of maize from my 2.5 acres of farmland, compared to 2 bags the previous years. My husband harvested 9 bags from his farm as compared to 5 bags in previous years. We used the improved seeds combined with use of farm residue as organic fertilizer and this has brought a lot of excitement to my family. There is now peace, unity and love in my family. My husband now respects me and I feel happy to be among my fellow women in the community”, says Anabig.
The increased yields have enabled Anabig and her husband to insure their family under Ghana’s national health insurance scheme, and to provide her children with all the supplies they need for school.
Anabig’s openness to learning new skills and diversifying her family’s farming systems is an important example of adaptive success in the face of the serious impacts of climate change. Building on what she has experienced, Anabig hopes to learn more about how to design and apply community-based adaptation strategies, increase the resilience of her livelihood choices and reduce the risk of disaster throughout her community.
For more information about Anabig’s story visit: http://www.careclimatechange.org/personal-stories
Nov 2nd, 2011 11:06 AM UTC
By Edith Jibunoh
It’s time to announce our second finalist in the 2011 ONE Africa Award.
After Togo, we went on to Accra, Ghana to meet the Alliance for Reproductive Health Rights (ARHR). The alliance was established by a group of NGO’s in 2004, and evolved from a defunct Save the Children program on sexual and reproductive health. ARHR Executive Director, Ms. Vicky Okine, is the former Save the Children program manager, and recognized the importance of the continuation of this program. It builds on the potential of community health organizations to empower their communities and drive the demand for better access to sexual and reproductive health care. The alliance coordinates the community organizations, arms them with the patients rights charter, and provides training in the area of reproductive health care. Through the alliance, local organisations have been encouraged to come together and share their experiences in the community, learn from each other and organize.
ARHR works from a rights based approach, which is their basis for empowering communities to demand for health care services from the government. Ghana adopted a free maternal health policy that was generally disregarded at the village level where the lack of information allowed health officials to get away with low levels of service delivery in many communities. With the assistance of the alliance, organizations have hosted advocacy and training at a grassroots level to get people to understand their rights, complain about poor health services and organize themselves to agitate for change. In a recent advocacy effort, beneficiaries were able to secure a meeting with the district health officers to demand better service delivery.
ARHR’s model is unique because this rights based approach provides a response to the demand and supply side of delivery of social services. It provides the information that people need to demand for services and it also influences public health policy. ARHR also develops materials to help educate people on government policies and works with the Ministry of Health to feed back information gathered at the grassroots level to influence policy modifications.
ARHR has used the media, including radio and television, in their advocacy work and stakeholders are now more aware of Ghana’s progress in efforts to meet the health Millennium Development Goals. Earlier this year, ARHR produced a documentary called “The Lights Have Gone Out Again”, which was aired on Ghanaian television and popularly drew mass attention to the problems associated with sexual and reproductive health care service in the country.
Through all of their efforts, ARHR has successfully influenced the way government is doing business and improvements can already be seen in the health service with increased access to health care. Community residents, armed with information from the alliance, are no longer turned away from health centres when refused service. They stand their ground and demand their right to health care.
Good luck to the Alliance for Reproductive Health Rights!
Oct 15th, 2011 12:00 PM UTC
By Kelly Hauser
Cowpeas (known as black-eyed peas) are an important nutrient-rich source of food in many parts of West and Central Africa. But each year, up to 50 percent of cowpeas in Africa are lost after harvest because of infestations by small insects such as weevils. Now, a simple technology is reversing this trend – the triple bagging method introduced by the Purdue Improved Cowpea Storage (PICS) project.
The project, supported by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and Purdue University, has been introducing the triple bagging method to farming communities across West and Central Africa since 2007. The technology is incredibly simple but undeniably effective – the three bags are triple tied and sealed airtight, creating an inhospitable environment for pests and keeping the crops safe. They can be stored anywhere for up to a year, allowing farmers to choose when they want to sell their crops.
Harvest time prices for cowpeas are US$20 to 25 per kg. However, with the new technology, farmers don’t have to worry about post-harvest loss and can wait as long as they want to sell crops. If they wait three to four months, prices can potentially increase up to US$100 per kg, potentially quadruplinga farmer’s income.
The cowpeas are also much safer. Farmers often use harmful pesticides to fight the weevils. One farmer in Ghana, who provides meals for a local school, testified that pesticides in her food were making some students sick. She now uses PICS bags, which have significantly improved her business and allowed her to provide healthy food to the students.
Communities are learning about the triple sack technology through public demonstrations in local villages. Demand for the bags is increasing as farmers familiar with the technology recognize that the bag is a smart investment.
To ensure sustainability of the programme, the PICS project has also prioritised supply chain development. This means that the bags are created by local manufacturers, bought by local distributors and sold to local vendors, who then sell to the farmers. PICS supports the vendors primarily through media and advertisements so that the local farmers know where to purchase the bags.
Oct 10th, 2011 5:22 PM UTC
By Kelly Hauser
Getting a fair price at market is always a struggle.In many countries in Africa, there exists an antiquated trading system. A farmer sells his produce to individual buyers, who then crisscross the countryside on bicycles and sell the goods to processing plants in towns and cities and then pass them on to distributors, retailers and exporters. These individual buyers pay rock-bottom prices, making profits for themselves but leaving the farmers struggling to survive.
But a company called Esoko has found an innovative technology to change all that.
Prosper Biche is a yam farmer from eastern Ghana. For a small fee, Prosper has signed up to receive 10 price updates a week from Esoko,a private agricultural market information platform, helping him learn not only what his produce is worth but when is the best time to travel to market to sell it.
“Before Esoko, I sent my 100 tubers of yam to Accra and could get 20 Ghana cedis for it,” Prosper says. “Now I check prices on Esoko and go to Accra when prices are good. I can get up to 200 Ghana cedis for the same 100 tubers.”
For only US$1 per month, this service has a tremendous return on investment; Esoko reports that farmers are now paid 20 to 40 percent more for their crops, a significant increase to their income and family’s quality of life.
Esoko uses researchers to obtain data for most of the agricultural markets it covers, but hopes in the future to have users directly supply most of the information to the system. The product is expanding to include information on stocks, the weather and buyer locations, as well as helping to coordinate transport and supply chain infrastructure. Currently, it is being used in nine African countries, including Nigeria and Malawi.
Dec 15th, 2010 5:26 PM UTC
By Joseph Powell
Today marked an historic moment for Ghana as it joined the ranks of oil producing countries. President Atta-Mills oversaw the opening ceremony and told his people that the find “should be a blessing and not an oil curse”. Production will initially be around 55,000 barrels a day. ONE is currently campaigning to ensure that all revenue received by Ghana and other countries will be published, empowering civil society with the information they need to hold their leaders to account.
To mark this occasion ONE invited Bright B. Simons – a researcher at the Accra based think-tank ‘IMANI’ – to write a guest post on Ghana’s economy and the impact the oil discover may have.
As we turn over to a new decade, a new story beckons for Ghana – that of oil.
The insights that the telecom transformation of the 90s and the financial sector transformation of the 2000s bring to bear on the new oil era are especially poignant.
In the 90s, wise reforms saw the liberalisation of the telecom sector through the strengthening of independent regulators and marrying of private incentive with national interest, with the eventual result that access to telephony increased from 1 in 300 persons in 1994 to more than 1 in 2 persons today. Similar policies saw the blossoming of the financial sector in the 2000s. Private investment surged into insurance and pension funds. Private equity became almost mundane, as the likes of Ghana’s DataBank led the drive to buy into the moribund erstwhile state-owned manufacturing sector, albeit with mixed results. And by the end of the decade, the number of banks operating in the country had grown in number from just about a dozen to more than 27.
If oil is to become the new growth pole in Ghana’s economy, then similar attitudes to disciplined and innovative policymaking must be embraced, especially, by the political elite.
This morning, the Ghanaian President symbolically turned on the taps for oil to begin flowing from Ghana’s first significant commercial oil find – the Jubilee field.
The “program of field development” leading towards this day has been available to the government in various formats for more than two years. Yet, the updated laws and regulations to govern the nascent production stage of the program are still being fiercely contested in Parliament. More critically, the Ministry of Energy is still in charge of the sector as the de facto regulator.
There is anything but clarity about several key aspects of the industry. The policy process is happening in the context of a transparency vacuum that frightens social activists and public interest analysts. Revenue analysis for policy planning purposes remain superficial because there is still no official view on how much it would cost to produce a barrel of oil from the field.
Of the other two key parameters that would determine the likely revenue inflows, only the estimated average price of a barrel of oil in the coming fiscal year (presumably discounted to North Sea Brent since the new oil is “light sweet” crude) has received official treatment. Anticipated average volume of production is only murkily appreciated. The reason being that in the name of “fast-tracking”, the original plan that called for the development of more than two dozen production wells was pared down to one in which less than half of this expected number was drilled. Pipelines to cart away gas associated with the oil to power onshore power-plants and feed fertiliser factories, amongst other hopes, won’t be on stream for at least 18 months.
In the specific case of the gas infrastructure, even though the political elite would be hard put upon to concede, the truth is that the financing was mired in confusion, with rival companies laying claim to the technical contract, because government argued that all the gas ought to be provided to the state for free. They should have, as in the case of the telecom liberalisation of yesteryear, married national interest to private incentive. Today it is still not clear whether the associated gas shall be flared, used in place of crude to power the converted vessel that is serving as the production platform, or injected into the field. While the oil companies have at several points indicated that injection was the most viable compromise (and had even drilled wells for this purpose), it now appears that this approach could endanger the integrity of the field, and that one of the gas-injection wells have actually not been completed.
The companies say there shall be “operational flaring” of the gas (a practice abhorred by environmentalists), and that this is permitted by incoming regulations. The government says there shall be no flaring. As usual, you can’t make head or tail of it.
The oil find, impressive though it is, does not change the fact that Ghana’s proven reserves and production volumes are puny compared to what pertains in places like Angola and Nigeria, where the force of oil has been substantial enough to knock out of place several important systems. The real choice is not so much as between “curse” or “blessing” but actually one of oil becoming either a “catalyst” or simply “stuffing”. A catalyst would generate multiplier effects across the economy. Stuffing, on the other hand, will create the bloated impression of plenty, leading to reckless spending decisions and creeping fiscal irresponsibility.
Wisely, however, the government has begun to dampen some of the excesses of enthusiasm that had begun to build up around the oil. It has revised anticipated oil revenues for 2011 from $1 billion to a conservative $400 million. This is very prudent since revenue forecasting for policy planning purposes, in direct contrast to revenue forecasting for commercial public relations purposes, should be conservative.
When the revenues start coming in, whatever the quantities might be, it would be important to recognise that oil is a finite resource, and therefore rather than using the funds to prop up the current wasteful structures of public spending, in which only 12% of the national budget goes into actual investment, it would be important to create a separate investment vehicle with independent managers accountable only to Parliament. The mandate of these managers would be to invest in “successor areas” in anticipation of the close of the oil era within a generation. It is the revenue from these vehicles that must be spent strictly on investments in health and education in order to enrich the human capital of Ghana. Only therein lies hope for this country.
As you watch Ghana’s political elite, decked in blue jumpsuits branded by one of the 5 private companies in the consortium that developed the Jubilee field, sauntering through the steel maze of the production vessel’s deck on national TV, the image seems very apt. They are still finding their way through the labyrinth.
For all our sakes, I hope they make it.
Bright B. Simons is a public interest researcher at IMANI Center for Policy & Education. The opinions expressed in this guest post are the author’s alone, and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of ONE.
The International ONE Blog is a daily log of the anti-poverty movement. The site is operated by ONE staff, with guest contributions from ONE volunteers, members and allies.
The content of each post and each comment represents the views of that author and does not necessarily reflect the views of ONE. ONE does not support or oppose any candidate for elected office, and any post expressing support or opposition for a candidate is not endorsed by ONE.