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Britain claims vital role in Ghana’s economic boom with aid

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Ghana in recent times has recorded an impressive economic growth as the practice of democracy souring since the 1992 is gaining grounds and improving civil liberties, not withstanding the need for further improvements. The country’s economy was the fastest growing in the world in 2011. It has also held generally,  peaceful elections since the beginning of the fourth republic in 1992.

Britain is asserting that it played a vital role in the recent boom of Ghana’s development after the country was heavily indebted with more than half the population living in poverty 20 years ago.

In a feature written by the UK’s Secretary of State for International Development Mr Andrew Mitchell and published in the Guardian January 15, 2012, it said Ghana has been undergoing a boom. “Since then, its political stability has laid the foundations for record growth, bringing jobs to the country and its people.”

According to Mr Mitchell, Ghana shows that well-targeted, long-term development, matched by political and economic stability, does work.

And “British support has played a vital role in this, ensuring that Ghana is on target to halve extreme poverty by 2015. Aid must always be a means to an end – the end being a prosperous future when countries no longer need to rely on international help,” writes the Sutton Coldfield Member of Parliament.

He stressed “Our support and partnership has accelerated Ghana’s journey down that path. Our relationship, already focused on wealth-creation, will soon move to an exit strategy as the private sector and economic growth replaces the need for international aid.”

As part of Britain’s development programme now firmly focused on achieving practical results, Mitchell said over the next four years “we will get 160,000 children back to school and deliver 4.75 million malaria bednets to save the lives of more than 13,000 under-fives.”

“We are working to support Ghana’s vibrant democracy, to ensure this year’s election is a success and we are helping people hold their government to account. We will also help create 144,000 jobs by promoting investment and linking producers to markets. We are working with farmers, private investors, the government and others to make Ghana one of the best places to do business in Africa because private sector growth is the key to raising incomes and permanently lifting people out of poverty.”

This has made a significant difference in the short term but, more importantly, laid the foundations for a brighter future, he added with the aim of supporting and accelerating Ghana’s recent progress and ensure ordinary families benefit from this success.

Despite these successes, Mitchell writes “We’re not there yet, with 6.8 million people living on less than £1 a day and an average life expectancy of just 59. That is why we have given hundreds of thousands of the very poorest children an education and saved the lives of pregnant women and babies by providing midwives.”

He pledged his country’s support for Ghana as there are still huge challenges.

“British support will help it meet them, but its growth and progress deserve our praise. In partnership with Britain, it can stand as a beacon for other countries, showing the way towards a future free from poverty,” Mitchell said.

The UK government late March 2011 disclosed its intention to increase its development assistance to Ghana in the next four years (2011-2015) to an amount of £375 million.

The Department for International Development (DFID) Country Director, Sally Taylor at a Media Open Day at the British High Commission in Accra told reporters that aid will be focused on education, economic growth, health and governance as well as other relevant sectors of the economy.

A fact-sheet from the DFID indicates that between 2011/2012, aid from UK to Ghana will be £85 million; 2012/2013 Ghana will receive £90 million and 2013-2014 it will receive £100 million.

Between 2014-2015, the sheet noted Ghana shall get another £100 million assistance from the UK all totalling up to £375 million.

Danny Graymone, DFID Deputy Country Director, told ghanabusinessnews.com that the increase in assistance to Ghana by the UK government will create 144,000 new jobs.

Between 2009-2010, UK aid to Ghana was £89.9 million.

Ton Crowards, an official at DFID, said the agency wants to attract a £15 million private sector investment to the North through the Savannah Accelerated Development Authority (SADA) by 2015 to bridge the gap between the North and the South.

Bilateral trade between the two countries was £579 million in 2010.

By Ekow Quandzie

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