It’s been exactly a year since Nana Akufo-Addo was elected president, and there is no doubt that a lot has changed.
On the campaign trail, Akufo-Addo vowed to change the country dramatically and since taking office on January 7, the country’s 5th President of the 4th Republic has indeed shaken up the system.
It’s probably too soon to tell how Akufo-Addo’s administration will go, as he has three more years to achieve his campaign goals. Nevertheless, he has made some greater changes. You may tend to disagree with some of them, but here they are:
President Akufo-Addo’s decision to appoint some 110 Ministers including deputies and regional ministers, generated mixed reactions among Ghanaians, as this was the highest number of appointees any government has had since the Fourth Republic. It came as a surprise to many, with others suggesting that the president was only rewarding party loyalty by giving out those positions. But Nana Akufo-Addo defended the move, saying that additional talents were needed to ensure success in critical sectors.
President Akufo-Addo’s much-awaited free SHS gained world recognition when it launched in September this year.
In this flagship programme, which has benefited over 400,000 students, the government of Ghana foots all bills including feeding fees, tuition fees, and any other accompanying charges.
But right after its introduction, a lot of criticisms were raised against it by some Ghanaians and political critics.
The opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) party had expressed worry that the initiative will drain the economy. For them, and many others, the president should rather focus on the quality of education by improving the available infrastructure in most schools.
And just three months into the policy, challenges associated with infrastructure and logistics have been a major issue. But the president has promised to ensure that the programme is sustained despite those challenges.
Agriculture (One District, One Factory)
President Nana Akufo-Addo on Friday, August 25, 2017, launched its other flagship programme dubbed “One-District, One-Factory” at Ekumfi in the Central Region. This marked the formal introduction and implementation of the government’s industrialisation policy.
The fruit processing factory at Ekumfi which was launched by the President will create a ready market for pineapples cultivated in the Ekumfi area and its environs.
The objective of this policy is to establish one factory across all 216 districts in the country. What is more, strong links are being created among industry, agriculture and other natural resources for job opportunities to ease the unemployment burden on the entire economy.
Planting for Food and Jobs
Just like the One District One Factory, Akufo-Addo’s Planting for Food and Jobs has already begun receiving wide acceptance and support.
The policy, which is expected to create in excess of 750,000 jobs to Ghanaians is also to help address the declining growth of Ghana’s agricultural sector. The five-year-long policy is aimed at increasing food production and ensure food security for the country as well as reduce food import bills to the barest minimum. It is also an avenue to modernize agriculture and make it a source of employment for the teeming youths.
The country’s frequent power outages, which is believed to have caused an excess of $3 billion has surely improved this year. There has been some back and forth as to whether dumsor has really ended and under whose regime it did. But there is no doubt that it has greatly improved this year. Now, the burden facing the government is the about $2.4 billion energy sector debt which the Akufo-Addo government has assured of clearing or refinancing.
Port business made easier
Doing business in Ghana has not been an easy task for many over the years. The process of clearing goods at the Tema ports has been tedious, taking so many weeks with clients suffering at the hands of some middlemen. The result has been massive corruption at the ports. But to reverse this, the Akufo-Addo government on September 1 began the implementation of the paperless clearing system. It is to speed up the process of clearing goods from two weeks to four hours, and ensure order at the port.
Even though some freight forwarders protested over the system saying they have not been well educated about the process, it still took off creating a revenue collection improvement of 56 percent.
Revenue at the ports increased from GHc130 million in the first week of September 2016, to GHc213 million in the same period for 2017, the vice president, Dr Mahamudu Bawumia indicated.
Ghana will be able to generate more investments in the oil and gas sector with the starting of oil production from the valve of the Floating Production Storage and Offloading Vessel (FPSO) John Agyekum Kufuor at the Sankofa-Gye Nyame oil fields.
The fields would produce altogether 45,000 BOPD of oil and 170MMSCFD through 18 wells, using the floating production, storage and offloading unit (FPSO) John Agyekum Kufuor.
Despite the red flags raised by the Minority members of parliament and some civil society groups over the Special Prosecutor Bill, it was finally passed in parliament in November. The setting up of the office of the Special Prosecutor which is aimed at tackling corruption was one of the major campaign promises made by Nana Akufo-Addo ahead of the 2016 election.
This Bill is to define the modalities for the appointment and operations of the Special Prosecutor. Many have come out with varied opinions about the creation of the Special Prosecutor’s office, with the Minority in Parliament questioning whether the office will be truly independent. The Minority does not understand why the special prosecutor will be expected to act on the authority of the Attorney General instead of being truly independent.