Development assistance mostly from the Britton Wood Institutions such as the World Bank, the International Monitoring Fund (IMF) and others have been the anchor of economic development in most African countries.
Formal development assistance (FDA), usually referred to as foreign aid, necessitates resource transfers from development partners in the form of grants, gift, technical assistance, projects and loans to developing countries.
The primary objective of these aid entries to developing countries such as Ghana is the promotion of economic development and welfare, habitually measured by its significance on economic growth and poverty reduction.
Historically, in the late 1990s, our quest to democratic governance endeared Ghana to the aid communities.
Ghana has since then, benefited from colossal amount of aid inflows largely due to reforms and structural adjustments programmes undertaken during the Economic Recovery Programme (ERP) of 1983 and the Structural Adjustment Programme (SAP) of 1986.
Between 1985 and 1996, total aid flows to Ghana increased threefold from US$150.7 million to US$450.8 million in 1995 and up to date Ghana continues to receive foreign aid.
Foreign aid, as it may look good on the surface, might be a necessary evil against national self-determination and development.
It also enables the West, its banks and their multinational corporations, to extract wealth from the third world countries.
Understanding the concept
It is against this background that the current President, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, has been trumpeting his government’s vision of building a country beyond aid for some time now.
This became more pronounced when the President explained what he meant by Ghana Beyond Aid in a speech he delivered during the 61st Independence Day anniversary celebration at the Black Star Square.
He explained the concept as; “A Ghana Beyond Aid is a prosperous and self-confident Ghana that is in charge of her economic destiny; a transformed Ghana that is prosperous enough to be beyond needing aid, and that engages competitively with the rest of the world through trade and investment”.
The Vice- President, Alhaji Dr Mahamudu Bawumia, also outlined the pillars underpinning the Ghana Beyond Aid agenda at a two-day workshop organised by the Africa Centre for Economic Transformation in Accra.
He mentioned the pillars as: enhancing domestic revenue mobilisation, encouraging higher private savings, pursuing a more transparent and accountable use of funds, leveraging the country’s resources that were buried deep in the grounds in more innovative ways, and adopting innovative mobilisation strategies as well as the use of external resources in the emerging development financial landscape.
However, the question is; how many Ghanaians understand and can comprehend the Ghana beyond aid concept and its pillars? It is for this reason that the government needs to appropriately segment the population and target each segment with well-thought- out positioning strategies, that will help place the Ghana beyond aid agenda in the minds of the citizenry.
Need for positioning
Positioning, according to Kotler and Armstrong, is the distinct and value place an offer occupies in the minds of a target audience. Thus, the more distinctive space an offer occupies an individual’s mind, the greater the value they place on the offer. Positioning Ghana Beyond Aid agenda in the minds of Ghanaians calls for the promotion of clear time line goals and benefits of the agenda to them.
It is imperative for the government to break it down to the understanding of all segments of the population.
Positioning this agenda in the minds of the people will help rally them behind it as the new way to go, and ignite their patriotic senses to move the agenda from a mere rhetoric to a well thought out implementable agenda.
It will also serve as inspiration to the citizenry and develop the entrepreneurial spirit as well as the can-do spirit within them.
This will further promote wealth creation for the country which is very essential, if we are to achieve the Ghana Beyond Aid agenda.
Again, it will help create a new brand identity for the country, as a self-reliant country that is poised to make significant use of its rich natural resources and quality human resource encompassing intellectual and professional capabilities to develop.
There are many positioning strategies that can be used to position the Ghana Beyond Aid agenda in the minds of the people, but I wish to suggest just a few.
The government should develop a Ghana Beyond Aid campaign geared towards different demographic segments of the populace.
The campaign should include short positioning easy to recall statements in the different major Ghanaian languages.
Also, there should be the selection of credible, respectable, eminent and non-partisan Ghanaians to communicate these positioning statements.
This will make the Ghana Beyond Aid agenda, a Ghanaian agenda but not a political ideology.
The Ghana Beyond Aid agenda will be achievable if it is well positioned in the minds of Ghanaians as the new way we want to go as a country, all hands will be on deck to help achieve the agenda for our mutual benefit.