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Top performing economies: Ghana ranked 14th in the world, 7th in Africa

Ghana is ranked 14th among the world’s 20 fastest growing countries for 2013, according to research conducted by the Economic Intelligence Unit (EIU), an independent business within The Economist Group. 

By that ranking, Ghana is placed seventh in Africa behind Sierra Leone, Tanzania, Eritrea, Zambia and Rwanda, while Chad, The Gambia, Liberia and Mozambique follow.

This was disclosed by Mr Robert Ward, the Country Director of the EIU, at the start of a two-day conference dubbed “The Ghana Forum” and organised by the The Economist magazine in Accra last Tuesday.

How Ghana achieved feat

Explaining how Ghana achieved that feat, Mr Ward said, “What Ghana has, which others don’t have, is a stable democracy.”

He, however, urged the country to lessen its dependence on commodities in order to maintain that spot or improve upon it.

He also urged the government to focus on the financial sector, education and manufacturing to go past its current ‘B’ rating.

“Ghana has the opportunity to become the hub for the West African sub-region but it has to deal with its inflation,” he said.

In an interview after the first session, Mr Ward said Ghana’s current fiscal deficit was too large, “so for us this is a big shadow over the economy. What I would like to see are some credible and long-term measures put in place to make fiscal policy predictable and to give investors confidence”.

He explained that Ghana’s ranking was due to the speed of its GDP growth, saying the country was one of the fastest growing in sub-Saharan Africa as well. “Growth this speed, however, is not something that happens forever,” he cautioned.

Mr Ward suggested that for Ghana to improve on its performance, the government had to raise living standards among ordinary people.

Amissah-Arthur on Ghana’s fiscal challenges

Delivering a keynote address on the topic; “Ghana in the Global Economy”, Vice-President Kwesi Amissah-Arthur listed some of the problems confronting the economy as inflation, public debt and a fast increase in the local component of the country’s debt, adding that currently the debt/GDP ratio was around 50 per cent.

He recalled that prior to 1983, Ghana was the fastest declining economy and said while the Economic Recovery Programme (ERP) resolved most of the issues and stabilised the cedi, inflation had been higher this year than anticipated because of the increased wage level, the payment of subsidies and increases in taxes.

He said increasing taxes was very paramount “to improve the way the government financed projects”.

The Minister for Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration, Ms Hannah Tetteh, who spoke on: ‘Ghana and the Regional and International Environment’, bemoaned the absence of harmonised standards in the West African sub-region which had resulted in increased costs incurred by small businesses.

She also indicated that because the region had not been able to review an ECOWAS Trade Liberalisation Scheme (ETLS) which was a vehicle to improve the volume of international trade, there was so much fraud in the system.