Tuesday, 6 March 2007

Ghana 50th

I love Ghana and I love Ghanaians. They are engaging and articulate. My company Unilever has had a long and happy history there and we are willing co-sponsors of their 50th anniversary reception being held in London tonight (6 March). Of almost all African countries, it is Ghana that seems to have best weathered the various rites of passage without losing the plot of what is best for its people at large. And, encouraged by its many resident donors, here it is setting the pace in terms of the African Peer Review Mechanism process and the World Bank lists of countries taking steps to improve their business climate.

And yet somehow if I were Ghana's line-manager, I think I would be tempted to put in something about operating a bit too much within its own comfort-zone. I am pleased that President Kufuor is getting a State Visit to Britain and that we will be invited to meet him chez HM The Queen. But I wouldn't want the form to be confused with the substance. I have been struck in my admittedly limited dealings with Ghana how the protocol seems to take precedence over the actual delivery. So when we were asked to help brand Ghana to the outside world, I was keen to see it linked to proof of real oomph in the engine.

As with all 50ths, a certain amount of self-congratulation is no doubt in order. But a sense of vision for the future and how it can help steer the wider West African region get there would be very welcome as well.

1 comment:

sue.clark said...

Richard

This is a very up beat review of Ghana, I wonder if you saw Niall Ferguson's contrasting article in the Sunday Telegraph yesterday. It made some good points about economic development and growth over the last 50 years, one in particular stands out;

"today, according to the World Bank, aid accounts for 16% of Ghana's national income and covers fully 73% of Government expenditure. In short it has been a short step from independence to aid-dependence."

Sue Clark