In a press release issued following a three-day visit to Ghana of Helen Clark, the UNDP Administrator, it praised the country for making advances in the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).
According to the release Clark met President John Atta Mills and other government officials and discussed among other things the prospects for continued growth and development, and the country’s expected graduation to middle-income country, which will have important implications for its access to development financing.
Citing Ghana’s impending oil and gas exploitation, Helen Clark said that “Ghana has a great story to tell about how investing in agriculture drove down poverty, and there are many blessings to share: a successful democratic transition, the establishment of solid institutions, legal reforms… We are prepared to help Ghana put a framework in place to ensure oil becomes part of those blessings, with robust planning and budgeting,” the release indicated.
The release noted that by 2006, Ghana became the first African country to have almost halved the proportion of people living in extreme poverty. The country has implemented several flagship programmes that have helped to accelerate the country’s MDG achievement, including a school feeding programme that covers over half a million pupils, a national youth employment programme employing an average of 100,000 youths annually.
The country has also improved the delivery of services in various state-run sectors such as the police, the health care system, and has increased the number of women in decision-making positions.
Ghana announced the discovery in commercial quantities of oil in June 2007. Commercial production is expected in November this year, when the country will produce its first 120,000 barrels of oil.
The country’s economy is also expected to see growth when oil production begins. The Bank of Ghana for instance has predicted a GDP growth of above 20% by 2011 following commercial production of oil in the country by December 2010.
Ghana’s GDP growth was projected to be within the levels of 5% to 5.7% in 2010.
By Emmanuel K. Dogbevi