Africa Rising: Jeffrey Sachs says Ghana's future looks bright
Because of good governance in the past, and now oil production, Ghana is likely to reach all of the Millennium Development Goals toward ending extreme poverty and child mortality.
As the small West African nation of Ghana heads into an election year, fierce debate on whether the government of President John Mills has delivered on its developmental goals and promises is already raging. But one of the world’s most prominent development economists says Ghana is proving to be one of the strongest performers on the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) in Africa and unlike some of its African counterparts is likely to fulfill them by the 2015 deadline.Skip to next paragraph
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Professor Jeffrey Sachs, director of the Earth Institute at Columbia University, visited Ghana on a recent tour to examine poverty reduction strategies and progress on the MDGs within Ghana, Mali, and Nigeria.
Sachs was the former director of the United Nations Millennium Project and played a major role in developing the eight MDGs that set forth a new set of development criteria for countries to work toward achieving by 2015. The final goals include the eradication of extreme poverty and hunger, the reduction of child mortality, universal primary education, gender equality and women’s empowerment, the improvement of maternal health, the combating of HIV/AIDs, malaria and other diseases, and environmental sustainability.
“Ghana is on track to achieve most, if not all, of the Millennium Development Goals,” Sachs told The Christian Science Monitor during an interview in Accra. “It is one of the strongest performers in Africa on the MDGs because it has been investing for a long time in health and education, gender equality, and it has made a lot of progress. But there are parts of Ghana that are extremely poor and really need a lot of accelerated investments.”
North-south divide still a challenge
Sachs says that Ghana’s biggest challenge is ensuring that development is spread evenly across all regions, particularly the arid northern part of the country, which remains desperately poor.
“There is a lot of progress in Ghana in certain parts of the country in reducing poverty and improving living standards,” says Sachs. “But there are other parts of Ghana where there is still a tremendous amount of poverty and a great amount to do, like in the North in particular.”
With few job opportunities in the arid and underdeveloped northern region thousands of Ghana’s northerners migrate southward in search of work to cities like Accra where they find themselves living in slums such as Agblogloshie and Nima, collecting scrap metal, melting down electronics, or working menial jobs for a few dollars a day.
Sachs will be working with the government of Ghana to help increase the rate of development and levels of investment within the three northern regions.
Ghana has made economic leaps in the past year due to the commencement of oil production and increasing levels of foreign direct investment. Ghana was one of world’s fastest growing economies in 2011 with an annual growth rate of 14 percent and it achieved middle-income status according the World Bank. Inflation has been on the decline in the past year and the Ghana Investment and Promotion Council said that Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) totaled $4.13 billion in the first three quarters of the 2011, a massive increase from the level of investment in the same quarter in 2010 that was at $216.71 million.