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IMPACT OF COVID-19 ON GHANA’S ECONOMY

16 settembre 2020 - and

Ghana’s economy is one of the fastest growing in Africa, and its recently established oil and gas industry has made it a gateway for foreign investment (as stated by the International Monetary Fund and The World Bank in 2019). However, while prospects for a continued expansion are good, the state faces a stubborn fiscal deficit and the longer-term challenge of reducing the nation’s reliance on a small number of exports due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Fiscal and economic reforms, therefore, remain top of the agenda in the election year of 2020.

 

HEALTHCARE

 

The Covid-19 virus scrutinized Ghana’s healthcare, welfare, and educational system. The economic statistics may have been up to the point, but the public health threat from mid-March (the first case reported on 13 March 2020) was putting into sharp focus the benefits of funding medical facilities. Though the death toll has been relatively low in Ghana, the disruptive consequences of the virus have not been markedly different to those headlined globally: an increase in unemployment, and a steep rise in the demand for public financial support to assist people and businesses.
Even if Ghana has put a lot of effort in managing such extraordinary emergencies, “the number of infected people continues to climb with total confirmed cases rising to 45,435 as of September 13, 2020, with 286 deaths and 44,342 recoveries”[1]. Thus, there is an urgent need to upgrade, build, and fund Ghana’s medical sector to reduce the difficulties within health delivery.

 

With this perspective, the President has announced, in one of his national speech an ambitious plan on measures taken against COVID-19 to build 94 medical facilities due to the problem of limited medical resources, including testing and isolation facilities. “There are 88 districts in our country without district hospitals; we have six new regions without regional hospitals; we do not have five infectious disease control centers dotted across the country; and we do not have enough testing and isolation centers for diseases like COVID-19. We must do something urgently about this and that is why the Government has decided to undertake a major investment in our healthcare infrastructure, the largest in our history. We will, this year, begin constructing 88 hospitals in the districts without hospitals,”[2].
Since then, the government is still in the preliminary stages of the project with lands being acquired in the various districts.

 

EDUCATION

 

On the 15th of March, President Nana Akufo-Addo of Ghana ordered the closure of all educational institutions in Ghana, affecting some 9.2 million basic school students (kindergarten, primary, and junior high schools) and 0.5 million tertiary education students. Online classes are being preferred in recent times and the most obvious questions that have arisen over the past months are: how students would bear the cost of internet bundle for studies? Are teachers being paid even though they are not teaching which is not any fault of theirs? How do students in remote areas access these online platforms? These and other questions must be answered with the greatest urgency.
The pandemic however presents an opportunity for the Ghana Education Service and the Ministry of Education to begin to draft policies that gradually drift Ghana unto e-learning avenues. However, final-year senior high and junior high school students have been asked to go back to school to prepare for this year’s West African Senior School Certificate Examination (WASSCE) and the Basic Education Certificate Examination (BECE). Second-year Gold Track students were also sent back to school to complete their first-semester academic work.

 

HOUSEHOLDS

 

The key economic concerns facing the country as of 2018 include the lack of affordable electricity, lack of a solid domestic revenue base, and the high debt burden as a significant number of the population live “hand to mouth” in financially insecure and socially wanting conditions.
A survey conducted by the Ghana Statistical Service on the actual impact of COVID-19 on households and jobs has revealed that an estimated 22 million Ghanaians have had their household incomes reduced since March 16 due to COVID-19 (Ghana has 31 millions of people). However, the government has made some progress in enabling business success and subsidizing electricity and water. The economy has diminished in 2020 as the oil sector has been hit by the global economic fallout from the coronavirus. The slowdown has also undermined non-oil growth and investment flows.
Growth prospects remain positive, with increased output and stable global prices for Ghana’s main export commodities. Domestic initiatives aim to increase productivity and boost output in key primary sectors and value chains. The 10-Point Industrialization Agenda seeks to expand output through coordinated public and private investment. Programs targeting higher agricultural productivity include Planting for Food and Jobs, Rearing for Food and Jobs, and Planting for Export and Rural Development. The budding manufacturing sector will broaden the basis for growth, focusing on agriculture-led industrialization.

 

THE PROPOSAL

 

Global pandemics are great enemies that must be fought with all economic and technological arsenals through a concerted and collaborative effort of all. It is therefore very imperative that global leaders, organizations, and the powers roll out pragmatic strategies and mechanisms that can quickly react to and battle the hardships, unbearable effects, and the economic impacts that come with these pandemics. As Ghana’s President Nana Akufo-Addo stated in one of his public addresses, “look at it (coronavirus) as an all-Ghanaian matter. All stakeholders – political, religious, traditional, and civil society leaders – have to come together with the government,”[3] to assure a coordinated and successful response to the crisis. The battle against COVID-19 remains a daunting task as trends of spread, possible vaccination and treatments are still under research. Ghana and the world at large should remain committed and proactive in assessing the health implications as well as the economic impacts that the COVID-19 and any other shock may present both now, and in the years to come. Forward going, Ghana and most developing countries should make adequate investment in the health sector and health professional and improve compliance with international health and security norms.

 

 

[1] Ghana Health Service https://ghanahealthservice.org/covid19/

 

[2] CNR, Ministry of Health https://www.moh.gov.gh/covid-19-government-to-begin-construction-of-88-district-hospitals-this-year-
nana-addo/

 

[3] Tofe Ayeni, The Africa Report https://www.theafricareport.com/27592/coronavirus-is-ghana-winning-the-fight-against-the-pandemic/