The Nexus of Liberalization and Good Governance to Propel Ghana’s Development by Sylvester Osei

Governments are elected into office with the primary duty to ensure a holistic wellbeing of its citizenry. Governance includes provision of security, an even distribution of public services and welfare. As Ghana celebrates 60 years of political independence, what does the nation require to enjoy economic freedom and development?

One interesting criteria for measuring wellbeing has been the World Happiness Report which ranks countries by the level of happiness of its citizenry, with Norway being the country with the happiest citizens this year.

Developed countries are mostly industrialised and the citizen enjoy economic freedom. On the other hand, developing countries engage in poor agricultural production. Sub-Saharan Africa is characterised by developing countries who aspire to develop. The World Bank (2015) estimate Sub-Saharan Africa’s gross domestic product (GDP) at USD1.596 trillion, United States of America has USD17.95 trillion and China has USD10.89 trillion. Ghana has to ride on the back of economic liberalization and good governance to ride its way into development.

Ghana’s Economy

Located in West Africa, Ghana has been touted as the gateway to Africa largely because of political stability having gone through seven consecutive peaceful elections since 1992. However, the country requires extra effort to gaining economic freedom from the dependence on foreign aid, excessive importation of commodities and economic instability.

Ghana is endowed with numerous natural resources; gold, diamond, cocoa, with an expectation of boosting development. Recently in 2010, Ghana began the exploration of oil in commercial quantities with an expected revenue of $400m (£254m) in the first year. Even though, Ghana attained middle income status (due to the rebasing of the economic basket), the country is plagued by “growing inequality in consumption, regional disparities and a deteriorating macroeconomic environment”, according to a World Bank publication.  In April 2015, the government of Ghana signed a three- year Extended Credit Facility (ECF) programme with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) which will see a disbursement of US$918 million over the period to stabilise the economy. This was as a result of the decline in Ghana’s key commodities on the international market, resulting in the rapid depreciation of the cedi, high fiscal and current account deficits etc. There was also high taxes and the supply of energy was characterised by shortages that affected the productivity of industries.

Economic Liberalization

Liberalization is defined as making economies free to enter in the market and establish their venture in the country. It requires the loosening of government regulations in a country to allow for private sector companies to operate business transactions with fewer restrictions. The concept of economic liberation has been lauded as the main engine of economic growth for many countries across the world. During the era of industrial revolution, many citizens opted for that option since that was the best way to bring private sector development and promote economic stability.

The case of Ghana’s ailing economy in the early 1980’s was supported with the impact of trade liberalization policy adopted as part of the Breton Woods’ Structural Adjustment Program (SAP) to boost real Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Trade openness and economic liberalization under study by many academicians found a positive and significant relationship between trade and economic liberalization and real GDP growth in the long-run in Ghana.

What is required of the nation is to open up the market for investments and create an enabling economic environment for businesses to thrive and to encourage public-private partnerships. Steps have already taken place to attract foreign investments with tax holidays or exemptions, known as the Free Zones. Government have to dedicate more resources into business startups and innovations through tax exemption support, capacity building and capital facilities.

Size of Government

After winning an election, political parties are required to form a government from the country’s pool of human resources. Members of government include ministers, council of states, heads of MMDCs etc. The size of government for the NPP in 2017 has come under public scrutiny as being the biggest in Ghana’s history. The government is made up of 110 ministers, ministers of state and deputies, with new ministries such as the Ministry of Monitoring And Evaluation, Ministry of Railways Development and other ministers with more than 1 deputy. Even though appointing more ministers is ‘constitutional’, it is morally challenging to accommodate such a huge number. There has been a general public outcry as these public officials will have to be paid GHS 20 million per annum, with allowances. The public purse is drained as there are already civil servants to assist in government business. It is evident now that the ministers have not been paid 5 months salaries since the beginning of the tenure.

Also the outcry is justified as there is a clear impression of multiplicity of roles. For example, there is the Ministry of Roads and Highways, and then Ministry of Railways Development, all of which previously came under the Ministry of Transport.

There has been justifications by the government on the size of the minister to tally with the volume of problems inherited from the previous government. In an interview, the President stated, “We have a problem and what is the best way? It is better to have men and women capable of serving the nation’s interests and to work to grow the economy… If I succeed, you will soon find out that the brouhaha is nothing compared to the success.”

Government has to evaluate the performance of the ministries and prune down the number of public officials to save the public purse. In this regard, Ministers will optimise productivity.

Transparency in governance

Transparency is key to the governance process that empowers institutions and the citizenry. Government has to make a conscious effort to inform the public of major government businesses, including transparency in procurements and fair play.

There have been several instances of corruption with little or no political will to revert the act. Other corruption cases have been apprehended by the law with sanctions. Bus branding of public transports was overpriced at GHS 3.6 million, and after investigations, the company has agreed to refund excess payment of GHS 1.5 million. Other instances have been the fraudulent payment of judgment debt, which the beneficiary has agreed to refund.

Legislation can be used to ensure transparency in governance in Ghana. The country is yet to pass the Right to Information Bill, which will allow free flow of information.

Government must continue engaging the citizenry through social media. There are instances where the presidency has hosted live videos at the Flagstaff House on Facebook and updates posted on Twitter.


The management of businesses in an economy is not the preserve of only government. In order to create economic growth and development, Ghana has to liberalise by eliminating restrictions to market entry and creating an enabling environment that promotes investments and competition in the market. Ghana also have to uphold the practice of good governance through the reduction of government officials and ensure transparency.

Sylvester Kwame Osei   studied Global Environmental Studies from Oslo and Akershus University College of Applied Sciences and the University of Ghana. Osei is a blogger and currently, he works as a communication professional at Wienco (Ghana) Limited. This article was syndicated by