The Director of the Centre of Development Studies, University of Cambridge, Dr Ha-Joon Chang, has said the high expectations of Ghanaians of the government of President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo is a step in the right direction.
According to the winner of the 2003 Gunnar Myrdal Prize and the 2005 Wassily Leontief Prize, with only seven months in government, the high expectations of the Ghanaian electorate was very good as that would help the government of Nana Akufo-Addo to work harder to meet the expectations of the populace.
In an interview with Dr Chang at the Institute of Economic Affaires (IEA) in Accra last Monday, he, however, cautioned that in all those expectations, it was necessary for the people to be realistic.
“Whilst it is important to aim higher, it is equally important to be realistic,” he underscored.
Conversation with Chang
Dr Chang, a renowned economist and author of several best-selling economics books, is in the country on an IEA invitation for him to engage stakeholders on policy options for accelerated growth. The interaction, which took place late Monday afternoon, is on the theme: “Destiny or Policy? – Development Prospects for Ghana.” The conversation focused on examining policies that determine a country’s development prospects.
Dr Chang, who was ranked No. 9 in the Prospect magazine’s World Thinkers 2014 poll, said Ghana had had huge ups and downs in its economic fortunes.
He said when Ghana attained independence, there was a lot of hope and many people believed in Ghana.
“Nkrumah was highly respected but we had the coup and since then rapid development has stalled; South Korea at the same period was poor but has now become a rich country today,” he stated.
Ghana under President Akufo-Addo, in the view of Dr Chang, has another chance to transform the economy.
He said the country, Ghana, is currently experiencing macro-economic and political stability with its democratic credentials globally lauded.
“So now I think things need to happen and for this to happen, the Ghanaian society needs to be organised in a different way and aim higher to get its ambition back,” he stated.
For instance, Dr Chang said, Ghana needed to start from the basic things such as agriculture production to grow its economy, with a long-term focus on manufacturing and technology.
He said Ghana and other developing countries needed to change their mindset so that they could develop faster.
In line with this, he advocated for Ghana to invest in research and technology, as well as nurture industries for rapid accelerated growth.
On whether multi-party democracy was the way to go for Ghana, Dr Chang said in spite of its shortfalls, it was also the best of what humanity invented and we must live by it.
‘’Sometimes multi-party democracy can be frustrating and malfunctioning but we have to stick to it,’’ he said.
He, however, added that “Nations get the leaders they deserve but unless we have a basic understanding of the economy with relatively well-educated and knowledge-based skills, we can’t improve the leaders we have.”