Saturday, March 24, 2007

Ghana at 50 - What are we celebrating??


Well sadly I missed Ghana's 50th Anniversary. While I was flying around the world to trade shows and Caribbean Islands, Ghana was Celebrating 50 years of Freedom and autonomy from it's former colonizer - the British Empire. March 7th marked the day that the Gold Coast became Ghana and the people were handed over the country that had been manipulated and built up by British colonial powers - the first African country to gain independence in 1957.

50 years on and what has become of this promising Star of Africa??

According to World Bank statistics, a country like Botswana, that acheived it's Independence in 1966, has a per capita income per head of over $11,000 (2005), compared to just $ 2,600 for Ghana. The adult literacy rate in Botswana is 79% compared to 74% for Ghana. Gross enrolment for primary, secondary and tertiary schools is 70% for Botswana and only 46% for Ghana. A country like Singapore, that gained its independence from Britain in 1965, has an income per capita of over $ 28,000, adult literacy of 93% and primary, secondary and tertiary enrolment of 87%.

Ghana is lagging behind. The hospitals are absolutely appalling. There is no public transport system. Ghettos and slums are growing. Corruption is rampant. There is no manufacturing, all natural resources leave the country in their raw form. The Gold is disappearing along with all it's revenues, to foreign companies.

A quick look at current poverty statistics is not promising:

GHANA
Total population, 2003:
20.7 million
Rural population density (people per km2), 2003:
307.1
Number of rural poor:
6.5 million
Poor as % of total rural population, 2000-01:
49.9%
GNI per capita (US$), 2003:
$320.0
Population living below US$1 a day:
44.8%
Population living below US$2 a day:
78.5%
Population living below the national poverty line:
39.5%
Share of poorest 20% in national income or consumption:
5.6%

Source: World Bank

So .... what are we celebrating?
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