Sustainable infrastructure development in the medium- and long-term remains one of the major considerations which attract foreign investors and foreign direct investment (FDI) to economies across the globe.
It assures sustainable poverty reduction and propels economic growth in developing and emerging economies, including Ghana.
This provides a succinct justification for the Government of Ghana’s resolve to invest massively in roads and other infrastructure across the length and breadth of the country.
In 2019, the President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo-led government through the Minister for Finance, Hon. Ken Ofori-Atta, pledged to invest US$2.5 billion in integrated infrastructure development.
The initiative which has extended to the current year is intended to derive a stronger economy by ensuring equitable distribution of infrastructure development across the country; create direct and indirect jobs; and to create opportunities for individual and corporate wealth and prosperity.
The investment seeks to position Ghana as the logistics, transportation and energy hub in the West African Sub-region.
However, the country’s projected expenditure for infrastructure in 2019 was GH¢73.4 billion.
This was equivalent to 21.3% of gross domestic product (GDP) in that year, and an increase of about 27% above the projected outturn for the previous year.
To facilitate the execution of her intended infrastructure development programmes throughout the country, the President Nana Akufo-Addo-led administration considered strongly private sector participation in the investment process.
Fortunately, the administration has concluded some public-private partnership (PPP) arrangements with Syno-Hydro of China to undertake joint development projects across the country.
Some of these projects include upgrading of water or sea transportation systems, expansion of existing airports, rehabilitation of railroads, and construction of roads and highways, among others.
The Tema and Takoradi Ports are being upgraded to effectively meet the growing levels of international traffic.
Planned expansion at the Kumasi airport, measures put in place to rehabilitate defunct railway networks, and President Nana Akufo-Addo’s declaration of 2020 as the year of roads affirm the administration’s preparedness to improve considerably on the country’s existing infrastructural development.
The current administration is seeking private partnership to assure extensive development in Ghana’s rail network, so it could handle up to 60% of both liquid and solid bulk cargo haulage between the ports and interior parts of the country; and between the ports and neighbouring landlocked countries while replacing worn-out rolling stock, and taking steps to improve speed and axle load capacity.
The foregoing could be described as a top-bottom development approach to Ghana’s infrastructure development efforts.
That is, the emphasis is on infrastructural development at the national through regional levels, though the projects may be traced to some localities in the country.
Challenges to adequate provision of infrastructure in recent and prior years have been attributed largely to non-availability of sufficient funds and other resources.
However, the investment of a whopping US$2.5 billion in infrastructure development by President Nana Akufo-Addo’s government is expected to stem the tide; and position Ghana firmly on the infrastructural development trajectory.
Ghana’s respective GDP growth rates from 2017 through 2019 were 8.1%, 6.8% and about 7%.
Indeed, the impressive growth rates recorded in the preceding three years of President Nana Akufo-Addo’s administration could be attributed largely to sound and strong macro-economic policies and measures coupled with massive investment in road and other infrastructure.
The latter is a strategic way of ensuring economic expansion while attracting local and foreign investors to remote parts of the country; and creating direct and indirect jobs for the active labour force.
By Ebenezer M. Ashley (PhD)
Fellow Chartered Economist & CEO of EBEN Consultancy