With most of the world’s eyes on the U.S. elections this year, many people were unaware that the country of Ghana would post their 2016 election results just a month later. Ghana, one of Africa’s strongest democracies, has followed the path of the U.S. 2016 elections and voted to oust the current ruling party.
Interestingly enough, Ghana’s elections have mirrored U.S. presidential elections for the past 16 years. When the U.S. presidency changes parties, the ruling party in Ghana has followed suite. This election was no different, with Ghanaians voting in opposition party leader Nana Akufo-Addo as their new president.
This election marked the second time that Ghana’s opposition party leader, Nana Akufo-Addo, ran against current president John Mahama, who has led the country since 2012. However, Mahama faced increased opposition and criticism since the last election, as Ghana’s economic growth has virtually stalled.
In fairness, falling oil prices as well as price dips in multiple other commodities have disproportionately affected Ghana’s economy and led to the slowest growth in two decades. Debt and inflation have continued to drive the economy into the ground, leading Ghana’s current ruling party to take a $918 million bailout from the IMF just last year.
Akufo-Addo focused his message this election cycle on jobs, something Ghana’s economy is in dire need of.
“There must be jobs in our country,” Akufo-Addo said at a rally earlier this year. “The lack of jobs, which is the case under this government, poses a threat to the future stability of our country.”
One of his policy initiatives to aid in job creation will be what he calls a “one district, one factory” policy. His plan is to build factories in every single one of Ghana’s 216 districts and a functioning dam to support those factories.
For his part, Mahama unsuccessfully tried to convince Ghanaian voters in this election cycle that there are factors outside of his control affecting Ghana’s economy and that he has done a good job considering those factors.
“We have done much work, but more needs to be done and we can only advance faster if we press on and stay the course,” Mahama said at a rally earlier this week.
Mahama called Akufo-Addo earlier today and congratulated him on his victory, and the electoral commission has promised to officially release the results later today. He has also promised to leave power without a fight and respect the results of the election, quelling some fears that there would be a power struggle or court battle.
Ghana has done it again! We always show ourselves that nothing, not even elections, can break us apart. Tomorrow we'll all eat kenkey— Mutombo Da Poet (@MutomboDaPoet) December 9, 2016
Akufo-Addo, for his part, is finally able to declare a victory after running three times for Ghana’s highest office. After losing by narrow margins in both of his past races, he won by a landslide with nearly 54 percent of the vote.
Besides his major policy initiative of pushing industrial growth across Ghana’s districts, he has also been pushing a four-point plan throughout the election process. The plan starts with his industrial goals but also moves on to three other sectors.
The second will be agriculture. Currently, Ghana is the world’s second largest producer of Cocoa. Akufo-Addo wants to increase productivity for current agricultural projects. He claims that Ghana is currently producing half as much as the Ivory Coast, but has the same amount of land being used.
He has also expressed interest in diversifying agriculture. Decreasing cocoa prices have been one factor in Ghana’s current economic decline.
The other two items he discussed throughout the election were Ghana’s financial sector and Ghana’s integration policy. He believes that there will be significant regional opportunities in the future for Ghana to capitalize on.
Whether he will be able to get Ghana’s economy back on track remains to be seen.
[Featured Image by Sunday Alabama/AP Images]