John Agyekum Kufuor, President of Ghana, made history when he stepped into power in 2001. It marked the first time since Ghana ’s independence in 1957 that one civil administration handed over power to another in a constitutional and democratic manner.
During the world leaders forum at Columbia, Kufuor explained that he is committed to the party manifesto that was central to his campaign—“To liberate the energies of the people for the good of the property-owning democracy in this land, with right to life, freedom and justice as the principles with which government and laws of the land should be dedicated in order specifically to enrich life, liberty, and property of each and every citizen.”
By the end of his first year in office, Kufuor recounts he established five priorities. First, to rehabilitate and enhance the country’s infrastructure, particularly its roads and electricity. Second, to modernize agriculture by improving rural development. To promote this goal his government offers support to private farmers as well as technical advice. One thousand tractors, for instance, are being provided throughout the country and modernize markets, storage facilities and access to credit is being improved.
Third, Kufuor is working to enhance the provision of social services, particularly education and health delivery. Fourth, he is upholding and promoting good governance through efficiency improvements and zero tolerance policy towards corruption. Finally, Kufuor is promoting the private sector as a main engine of growth by encouraging entrepreneurialism, and offering training. His ministries are also helping entrepreneurs access credit and markets.
Kufuor reports that he is making great strides implementing programs that support these priorities and points to the support he is getting from domestic and foreign investors. Within the past two years fiscal and monetary management have improved and utilities are being deregulated. He indicates that large domestic government debts have been renegotiated into long-term instruments, a move that has helped to free up capital for loans to the private sector.
Inflation, which was 42 percent when he took office, dropped to 13 percent within Kufuor’s first 15 months in office. With the deregulation of utilities, Ghana has experienced a 29 percent increase in inflation, but Kufuor quickly adds that even so “stabilization has been achieved. There is a reversal in the upward surge.” Likewise, interest rates have decreased from 52 percent to 25 percent. And these achievements have led to an improved credit rating for the country. Kufuor says that President Bush praised his achievements when they met during the UN General Assembly.
Kufuor concluded his marks on an optimistic note that through additional government reforms, Ghana will become a “middle-income earning economy” in the next decade.