Ghana takes lead as Africa's good governance showcase

By Abwao Oluoch- PANA Correspondent Addis Ababa, Ethiopia (PANA) -- Africa's good governance principles have enabled Ghana to measure itself to the best in the continent while taking widespread institutional reforms to plug weaknesses identified in previous country reviews, its leader said on Wednesday.
Ghana's strong economic growth, the strengthening of the local currency, the cedi, and its robust democracy had put the West African state on the path to becoming a middle-income state in Africa, President John Agyekum Kufuor said in Addis Ababa.
The Ghanaian President, who is also Africa Union (AU) Chairman, said Accra "took the bull by the horns" in addressing economic malaise, championing rapid institutional reforms and reforming its stock market within record time to ensure good governance.
Speaking before a forum of African leaders on good governance under the auspices of the African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM), President Kufuor said various weakness identified during previous reviews had been addressed through institutional reforms.
Ghanaian politicians, ministers and senior civil servants had been subjected to scrutiny while the role of parliament in dealing with abuse of public resources had been enhanced over time through strict adherence to rules of transparency, President Kufuor said.
"The APRM challenges us to be a listening government.
We have had the creative potential to grow our economy and the APRM has provided us with the yardstick to measure our achievements," the Ghanaian leader told his peers during a day-long meeting.
Ghana, which became the first African state to accede to the continent's good governance test under the APRM in which countries are reviewed for economic, social and political transparency, said it had taken steps to rectify previous shortfalls.
President Kufuor said efforts to rectify the organisation's institutional weaknesses had made widespread progress with the appointment of more judicial officers like judges to ease the backlog of cases in courts while oppressive media laws had been repealed.
"The government has repealed laws to give the media free will to operate.
We have also given space to the civil society to operate freely but we are still concerned about foreign influence because most of them represent foreign interests," the Ghanaian leader said.
Ghana's stability also saw its international financial rating climb substantially while its efforts to address infrastructure shortfalls in the long-term were boosted by its listing of an infrastructure bond at the London Stock Exchange, which raised US$750 million.
"The Eurobond was oversubscribed by over US$3 billion and we have spent part of the money to modernize our railway system which was in a poor state," the President said.
The Ghanaian leader, who addressed a closed-door session, but for which access was granted to PANA, told the leaders, who included Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi, South Africa's Thabo Mbeki and Uganda's Yoweri Museveni, of his reforms.
He said measures to address land distribution and resolve outstanding ones had been addressed through the appointment of specifically-trained judges to adjudicate land issues while institutional weaknesses at cabinet level had been rectified variously.
Ghana has recently created railways and harbours body and spent US$90 million to rehabilitate its rail system.
The government has also set up trade desks to help traders while efforts to reform the country's tax measures had also been undertaken.
President Kufuor said part of the economic reform measures had targeted the creation of more efficient tax systems while the issue of payments, including clearing of cheques, had been addressed through the introduction of electronic payment modes.
African states are still lagging behind in the appropriate use of technologies to ease payment shortcomings with most transactions still paper-based.
President Kufuor said the government's main challenge was now to continue its 6 per cent annual economic growth rate while addressing a possible decline in the quality of education.

30 january 2008 20:16:00




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