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Think Tank converts knowledge into change in Ghana

May 4, 2016

In February 2015, the Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA) in Ghana hosted a succession of briefings on gains made in promoting transparency and accountability, factors affecting economic growth, and the public’s perception of socio-economic and governance conditions in Ghana. IEA is one of the think tanks supported by IDRC's Think Tank Initiative.

Index promotes transparency and accountability

IEA announced results from their 2015 Petroleum Transparency and Accountability (P-TRAC) Index Project that monitors transparency and accountability in the management of Ghana’s oil and gas resources. Benchmarked against the previous two P-TRAC reports, the 2015 report observed steady progress in efforts to improve revenue transparency. The project made a number of policy recommendations, including the passage of legislation, better funding of existing oversight bodies, and a more open and transparent process of awarding contracts and licenses.

Factors affecting economic growth in Ghana

At a roundtable to discuss factors affecting economic growth, IEA convened a cross-section of stakeholders including government, parliament, political parties, academia, think tanks, and civil society groups. Discussion stimulated debates and sought to answer questions on exchange rate misalignment, as well as the possible impact of the EU’s Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) on Ghana. Among proposed recommendations were government’s need to keep the economy competitive: keep interest rates low; contain inflation, and deal with infrastructural constraints. Delegates also discussed whether the EU’s Economic Partnership Agreement will be growth and trade enhancing. Prof. John Asafu-Adjaye, Visiting Senior Fellow at IEA, said a reciprocal trade agreement with the EU was likely to have an overall adverse effect on ECOWAS countries, including Ghana. He concluded that the best outcome for ECOWAS is a Free Trade Agreement in which both tariff and non-tariff barriers are removed and supply constraints addressed.

Public perceptions of socio-economics and governance

IEA also presented results of its 2015 Socio-Economic and Governance Survey conducted in all 10 regions of the country. The study provided valuable information on Ghanaians’ perceptions of a variety of issues, including: economic and living conditions, public safety and security, media freedom and abuse, discrimination and relations between ethnic groups, factors that influence elections, trust in institutions, important problems confronting the country, government performance, corruption, bribery, and access to public services. It is an invaluable resource for those planning and implementing policy reforms and interventions. Among other things, there is a need for policy reforms that will speed up the rate of transmission of growth impulses into improved living conditions, so these can be realized by Ghanaians, especially with respect to employment, the IEA concluded. 

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