It is my firm conviction that we can, and should, make this beautiful country of ours more prosperous and improve the quality of life of every Ghanaian. We can, and should build a country where everyone has opportunities to develop to their fullest God-given potential; a Ghana where everyone has access to education, training, and productive employment; a Ghana where no one goes hungry and everyone has access to the necessities of life including good health care, water, sanitation, and decent housing in line with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Indeed, we can, and should, build a Ghana that is prosperous enough to stand on its own two feet; a Ghana that is beyond dependence on the charity of others to cater for the needs of its people, but instead engages with other countries competitively through trade and investments and through political cooperation for enhanced regional and global peace and security.
We can do this, because we are a nation of smart, dedicated and hard-working people; a nation blessed with abundant natural resources, and a nation that has maintained peace and political stability and has earned international respect and goodwill.
All we need is a clear strategy and a firm collective will to pursue this goal, harnessing and deploying our resources efficiently and effectively, and embracing the discipline and change in mindset and attitudes that will enable us to do things differently and in a better way.
Simply put, my Fellow Ghanaians, we can, and should, build a Ghana Beyond Aid.
This has been my clarion call to you, Ghanaians, since you accorded me the highest privilege of electing me as your leader. Indeed, a significant part of my address to the nation on our 61st Independence Day celebration on 6th March, 2018 was devoted to the theme of Ghana Beyond Aid. Three months after that, in June 2018, I inaugurated the Ghana Beyond Aid Charter Committee. This Committee, chaired by the Senior Minister, reached out beyond Government to include Academia, Business and Labour. The Committee was also charged to consult widely across all sections of Ghanaian society in order to address two issues:
- (a) develop the broad aspiration of Ghana Beyond Aid into a clear vision and strategy that can make Ghana prosperous and take it beyond aid in the shortest possible time; and
- (b) identify the key changes in values, attitudes, and behaviour that we Ghanaians have to either reinforce or change in order to ensure that we can effectively implement the strategy.
The Committee has consulted widely with Ghanaians, and it has synthesized the insights gathered into a simple, but compelling strategy that can take us beyond aid, backed by a Charter consisting of key fundamental values that almost all Ghanaians will agree we need to embrace if we are to pursue seriously the Ghana Beyond Aid vision.
I need not mention the fact that this is not the first time that Ghana has announced an ambitious strategy or plan to transform our country economically and socially. We are all aware of the development plans launched by various governments over the years that fell far short of their ambitious aims for one reason or the other. So what is different this time?
There are two very important differences this time. Having reviewed carefully the history of our past efforts, and having consulted widely with Ghanaians, the Committee has recommended—and I have endorsed—an approach based on 2 key pillars: (a) the Ghana Beyond Aid agenda should be a National Agenda, rather than a government agenda; and (b) The Ghana Beyond Aid agenda should focus on values, mindset and attitudinal changes that condition the environment for pursuing development, rather than on a list of projects that Government is to implement.
Fellow Ghanaians, we are blessed to live in a country where every four years we can freely vote for a government of our choice, and we are all proud that our national elections are consequential; they can result in changes in government, and even incumbents can be defeated. But transformational development—the one that can take us to a Ghana Beyond Aid—takes more than 4 years or even 8 years. So, we need to find a way to set a development course that will endure, regardless of changes in government.
The Committee has responded to this challenge by approaching Ghana Beyond Aid as a National Agenda, rather than as an agenda of the Government of the day. It has developed Ghana Beyond Aid into a vision based on 5 broad goals: A Wealthy, Inclusive, Sustainable, Empowered, and Resilient Ghana, or in short, a W.I.S.E.R Ghana, using the first letters of the 5- goals. These are goals that resonate with all Ghanaians, and which I would hope they are prepared to commit to and to demand same from future governments. In addition, the strategy proposed by the Committee reaches out beyond Government to mobilize the energy, creativity and resources of business, labour, civil society, traditional leaders and all key stakeholders in society, so that implementation success depends much more on what Ghanaians do, rather than on what the Government of the day does.
Equally as important, the strategy puts due emphasis on the “software” underpinnings of development— values, mindset, attitudes and behaviour. It is relatively easy to produce a technically brilliant plan with a list of ambitious projects. Over the years, Ghana has produced a fair number of these. But most have not been implemented effectively. At the end of the day, development plans are implemented by people responding to incentives, policies, laws and regulations. What are the values and mindset that must pertain to those in Government who set and enforce the policies, laws and regulations or who are entrusted with public resources? Equally important, what values and mindset must pertain to business, labour and the individual Ghanaian? If we get these right, then any decent plan can be implemented effectively to ensure that we make good and steady progress towards realizing our vision. But if we do not get them right, then even the most brilliant plan or strategy will remain just a paper exercise. The Committee, after listening to the people, has come up with a set of fundamental values that must guide us in our quest to march rapidly to a Ghana Beyond Aid.
The document also acknowledges that a responsive policy environment is required so that as we change our attitudes and values, we will not have to be confronted with the same old hurdles which inhibit our growth and development. That is why I welcome the commitment to reform and sustain a robust macroeconomic environment, increase government domestic resource mobilization and pursue strategic investments which among others, will enable import substitution, especially food, clothing and construction materials, within the shortest possible time.
The values, mindset, attitudes and behaviour changes which I am calling for will complement the policy changes and reforms which are being rolled out. The two will be mutually reinforcing as we march boldly and confidently to Ghana Beyond Aid.
Fellow Ghanaians, let us all join hands and begin the exciting journey!
God Bless our homeland, Ghana!
NANA ADDO DANKWA AKUFO-ADDO
PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC