After 2020 and with the global COVID-19 crisis, one thing remains crystal clear: No nation, whether rich or poor, has the resources to achieve all good things at once. While Ghana’s economy has performed better than many other countries, significant challenges remain.
It is on the verge of this difficult period that the National Development Planning Commission (NDPC) worked with some of Ghana’s best economists and the award-winning Copenhagen Consensus think tank to analyse and identify the best new Ghanaian investments for a new drive.
You may have read about many of the issues presented earlier in Daily Graphic publications, and you may access the full analyses on our websites.
A compendium of all the analyses, thoughts and views have been presented in a new book, Ghana Priorities: Analysing costs and benefits, which summarises much of the learnings on where Ghana can best spend its first cedi.
But Ghana’s decisions on a future development path is directed and forged by the individual thoughts and aspirations of its millions of citizens.
Across the breath and length from Ho through Accra and Cape Coast to Sefwi Wiawso, and from Takoradi through Techiman to Wa, there are varied views but choices have to be made. The Ghana Priorities and the publication process, therefore, provided formidable, technique and a practical approach to facilitate the choices.
The launching of the Ghana Priorities in the 16 regions and 32 districts really revealed the essence of objective policy and project analysis in decision making bringing to light the need for compelling choices because of limited resources.
It also introduced the need to consider the outlay of the entire intervention and identify costs, benefits, as well as resources, flow as an integral part of planning.
The discussion with the districts also indicated the varied impact of these prioritised interventions on respective districts. It implies that decision makers in arriving at priorities must consider the relative impacts and particularly examine the implications for the poor, the excluded and impact of livelihood sources.
It is, therefore, not surprising, after the COVID-19 impact on the economy of Ghana, that the emphasis is on revitalising the local and national economies and resuming the path to growth.
One important, long-term growth factor which came up is land titling, which is not only high by the experts’ ranking, but also throughout the regional and district interface. This intervention affects many rural livelihoods, agro-ecological balances and urban development.
The existence of multiple land titling regimes (traditional, informal, formal) is very confusing thus becomes a disincentive for the registration of lands.
The consequence is that spatial planning becomes nearly impossible, identifying people and businesses with location is risky and relying on land title documents for economic pursuits is a huge risk.
The development of a comprehensive land titling process to register lands will immediately increase the asset holdings of many households and families.
It will reduce business risk and bring a new predictability and reliability in business and planning. The policy intervention in land titling can generate as much as GH¢91 of social benefits for each cedi spent. It also has both rural and urban effect thus establishing a very high appreciation by citizens at the district level.
For effective functioning of local governments and response to the needs of communities they need sufficient revenue. Property rates and business fees have been identified as the must prospective sources, but the challenge is in identification and collection.
Support tools and guidelines developed by the “Digitised property and business fees intervention” provides a potential response . The implementation of this initiative has moved its coordinating centre from the Ministry of Local Government to the Office of the Vice-President to provide an enhanced opportunity for effective coordination.
This includes providing capacity to the local governments to apply the tools for street naming, numbering properties and business activities, keeping the data base, facilitating fee fixing, collecting the rates and fees and managing it. The experts found this opportunity so useful that they ranked it at the very top for priorities of Ghana.
The NDPC is now helping to facilitate the implementation. It means that efficient collection can provide local governments better opportunities to serve communities.
Another recurrent issue considered in the priorities is the physical and economic burden of malaria. Many stakeholders in the districts also emphasised the huge benefits that would accrue to the country, if the menace of malaria was dealt with.
The discussions at the district revealed that many who were affected by malaria resorted to self-medication and use of traditional medicine. The documented frequency indicated that there were a significant number of people that suffered from the debility of malaria. A response in fighting malaria was, therefore, deemed a key priority by all the 32 visited districts.
A total eradication, as noted by the districts, will reduce school absenteeism of pupils and students, will increase farmers work days, and reduce household expenses on health. Each cedi spent here could generate upwards of GH¢44 of social good.
The call to transform the agriculture sector cannot be over-emphasised. Interventions for fertiliser and hybrid seeds deliver a solid
GH¢3-4 cedis back on every cedi spent, and the feedback from the launching trip indicated that this is one of the most ascribed to intervention by district leaders and community representatives.
As it is for most countries in the world, 2020 was a difficult year. Though Ghana did better than many other countries and arguably the best in Africa, the difficulty nevertheless enlightened us that resources are not unlimited. It is for this reason that we need to make sure any extra cedi spent over the coming years goes to the areas that will facilitate achievement of a better quality of life for most Ghanaians and, particularly, make the youth a core asset to the development path.
As NDPC endeavoured to discuss with stakeholders across the districts and shared the research results on the best investments summarised in the Ghana Priorities book, it is obvious some of the top priorities and initiatives are very pertinent: land titling, digitised revenue collection, renewed malaria eradication efforts and fertiliser and hybrid seeds supply are but a few indications.
These are all very effective policies and the implementation will attain and sustain the established development goals and trajectory of Ghana.
The writers are the Director-General, NDPC & President, Copenhagen Consensus, respectively.