The Institute of Statistical, Social and Economic Research’s, ISSER, top-notch publication, ‘The State of the Ghanaian Economy Report’, SGER, for 2016 was on Wednesday, 11th October, 2017 launched by Dr Anthony Yaw Baah, General Secretary of the Trade Union Congress, TUC, of Ghana. 

 

In his overview of the state of the Ghanaian economy for 2016, Prof Felix Ankomah Asante, Director of ISSER first gave a global and Sub-Sahara Africa economic outlook.

On the global front he disclosed that GDP growth fell from 3.4% in 2015 to 3.1% in 2016, consistent with the trend since 2010, while advanced economies registered a decrease in growth from 2.1% in 2015 to 1.7% in2016 and the European Union growth declined from 2.4% in 2015 to 2.0% in 2016.

Prof Asante adduced the relatively low growth in emerging markets and developing economies to domestic policy weaknesses, tight domestic and external financial conditions, declining oil prices as well as investment and supply constraints.

Turning to Ghana, the Director noted that the country’s GDP grew by 3.7% in 2016, a decline from 3.8% in 2015 which was a continuation of the downward trend since 2011.

On sectorial growth ranking for 2016, services topped the pack recording 5.9% followed by agriculture 3.6% and industry -1.2%.

Prof Asante observed that agriculture is still recovering from the low growth rate recorded since 2011 and further dropping in two successive years and only picked up to 3.6% level in 2016.

He questioned the over reliance on donor funding in the agricultural sector and recommended a change of the status quo.

In his opening remarks the head of the Economic Division at ISSER, Dr. Charles Ackah, noted that Ghana’s growth has not been accompanied by a structural transformation that lifts workers from low-productivity jobs in the informal sector to higher-productivity activities in the formal sector.

“A large part of the growth of the last two decades has been propelled by booming prices of its main commodity exports (cocoa and gold, whose prices more than tripled between 2000 and 2010) and the start of commercial oil production in 2011. Notably, no serious effort has been made in recent times to use the recent commodity-based growth to start a more sustainable growth based on the development of the manufacturing sector, including but not exclusively the processing of primary commodities” he stated.

He described as ironic that for all these decades since independence from colonial rule, Ghana continues to export raw cocoa beans with limited upgrading within the value chain (e.g., making cocoa butter and powder instead of exporting cocoa beans) noting that the growth performance, thus far, remains highly vulnerable to external shocks and has not translated into meaningful job creation.

Dr Ackah stressed the need for a paradigm shifts in Ghana’s growth and economic development strategy, taking lessons from how past experiences have failed and how industrialization was pursued in successful countries.

He urged managers of the Ghanaian economy to begin to think seriously about and implement measures to upgrade the commodity sector and, more importantly, promote thedevelopment of higher-productivity sectors, especially manufacturing.

After launching the SGER 2016, the TUC General Secretary commended the researchers who put together the report and urged the institute to throw their investigations on the prisons.

He said “our prisons do not show that we are a civilized country”.

The SGER 2016 is the 26th edition since 1992. ISSER was motivated to issue the first SGER when it was realized that there was not much public information about the economy of Ghana to guide people make informed judgment about issues and also for decision making. This concern remains relevant even today as the economy grows.

The SGER is a major source of information for many – researchers, students and policy makers as well as scholars outside Ghana and it is a much-sought after publication on the economy of Ghana from an independent perspective.

As an economic outlook report, the optional chapter in each issue focusses on a relevant topic or sector of the economy each year. SGER 2015 had the State of Education in Ghana as the optional chapter. This year, there are two optional chapters, which deal with “Artisanal Small Scale Mining and Development in Ghana” and “Identifying Priority Value Chains in Ghana”.

In line with the Institute’s policy of visiting a region each year to disseminate information and interact with the citizenry, a road show of the report will be organized as a post-SGER launch activity.

Prof Asante paid glowing tribute to the Think Tank Initiative (TTI) of the International Development Research Centre (IDRC), Canada for their continued support of the SGER publication.

He also thanked the team of researchers who put together SGER 2016. 

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