Multiple Chapters: Strategic Partnerships With the EU and China

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¶ … strategic partnerships with the EU and China benefit the political and economic development in Ghana?

Do strategic partnerships with the European Union and China benefit the political and economic development in Ghana?

Main agenda of the international development strategy for Ghana since the 1970s

This chapter deals with the historical background of the relationship between Ghana and major international donors since the 1970s. The period is important particularly because it represented the time when, on the one hand, the international community started to address the issue of development for the African countries and on the other hand, it provided the prolific timeline in Ghana's history, as a result of the general decolonization process. The focus of the chapter is on several key aspects. Firstly, it is important to considered previous engagements of developed donor countries. Secondly, the effectiveness of these engagements are essential in order to assess the impact previous development programs had on the Ghana society and government. This assessment is based on the UN's HDI (Human Development Index). Thirdly, despite the general positive trend of development programs in Ghana, there have been initiatives that failed to ensure the programmatic outcome. Therefore, it is important to view not only the underling elements that encourage donor countries to assist Ghana in these last four decades, but also some downfalls of this assistance.

1.1. Short history of the foreign aid programs launched by the economically developed donor countries

Ghana is largely seen as a success story in terms of the way in which it managed to use the donors; financial assistance to its benefit. However, this was not the case in the 70s when the issue of donors and development was relatively unchartered ground. For Ghana this was important largely due to the fact that in that period the political scene in the country did not resembled the current one. More precisely, there was a clear lack of democratic structure in the country, with deep-rooted political misconduct. However, the fact that Ghana had previously been a British colony helped the state organization to eventually regroup.

The beginnings of foreign aid in Ghana started, as stated above, in the 70s. However, at the time, scholars argue that the issue of foreign aid resembled more to clear cut welfare. More precisely, "foreign aid became part of Ghana's development complexities in the 1970s and 1980s. Critics describe aid prior to 1983 as almost welfare. This means essentially, foreign ODA inflows to Ghana began with the inception of the SAPs in 1983 under the PNDC government." (Andrews, 2010) This is an important aspect because it reveals on the one hand that at the time, the political scene in Ghana was not prepared for the change of mentality the development aid implied and, on the other hand, the development perspective and the philosophy of donor-based development aid was in its beginnings, despite previous experience with other countries. This is suggested by the fact that in the beginning, foreign aid was provided with clear reference on the political situation in the country. Indeed, even to this day it is rather difficult to organize donor conferences without a clear focus on the political aspects in those countries.

The history of donor aid is marked by the way in which the internal political structure changed in time from stability to coup d'etat to democracy. In this sense, there was little activity in the 60s and 70s when the political instability characterized the country. By the 80s the situation changed and "starting in 1985, however, a clear and sustained increase in aid flows occurred as donors perceived greater commitment by government to better economic management and economic reform. Indeed, between 1985 and 1995 total aid flows to Ghana increased threefold from U.S.$150.7 million to U.S.$450.8 million. For the past decade, aid flows to Ghana have provided an average of $570 in project and programme support" (Sowa, n.d.). Therefore, it can be pointed out that the intent to assist Ghana before the 1990s clearly depended on the political environment at the time.

Perhaps the first and most important donor or aid initiator during the 80s and the 90s was the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund. According to Andrews, "there is no consensus on whether the reform was worthwhile but at least it removed the hand of the state from the economy and made the country more economically stable than it was before." (Andrews, What foreign aid can and can't do in Africa, 2010) in general the interventions of the IMF and the World Bank are not perceived in good terms especially from the point-of-view of the population. Most often the measures undertaken to lift a country from an economic crisis or financial instability are seen as unpopular because they stress the need for cost reductions, taxes, among others. However, for the 1980s, the intervention of the IMF in Ghana represented a wakeup call for the economic environment that was still kept in the socialist state run system.

Since the 70s there have been numerous donors that supported the Ghana government to emerge from poverty and eventually reach the development goal of becoming a medium economy by 2020.

Canada has been an essential donor for Ghana. According to Canada International Development Agency, "in 2004-2005, Canada's official development assistance to Ghana totaled $67 million" (Canada International Agency for Development, 2011). The major lines of development have been those related to poverty reduction, to the increase in the government capacity, and women empowerment.

Another important donor is China that started its more in depth relations with the African continent since the Cold War. In this sense, before the 1990s China had been a small but constant presence in Africa. Thus, "since 1960 China has provided development assistance under bilateral diplomatic relations mainly in the form of grants, loans and technical assistance. However, the amount was relatively small. For example, between 1960 and 1970 total Chinese aid to Ghana amounted to U.S.$43 million" (Mohan, 2010). Although the financial interventions were not very significant in terms of value, it was an important message to advocate as it was considered at the time that "the poor helped the poor" (Mohan, 2010).

Even so, the interests of China were not altruistic but rather strategic. In this sense, in the context of the Cold War, the grants and assistance provided by communist China to Africa represented in fact investments in strategic points on the globe. More precisely, the confrontations between the East and the West did not include directly China. However, China had been in great distress with the U.S.S.R. At the time due to the reinterpretation of the communist precepts China decided to make, in order to adjust to its natural and national specificity. Whereas the U.S.S.R. clearly refused such a change from the doctrine, the United States as well as other countries considered it an opportunity to gain ground in the Cold War. On the other hand, China, through its investments and development assistance, considered an extension of the area of influence.

Among other donors, Denmark, other European countries, tried to help Ghana achieve a better standard of living.

The goals of the donor countries were at the official level, similar. In this sense, it reflects the desire to improve the standard of life, assist the economy and its population. China for instance, offered loans and non-refundable financial resources for constructions, telecommunication networks, and transportation. Denmark has been assisting Ghana in programs related to governance or human rights.

1.2. Analysis of the effectiveness of the previously introduced developmental programs on the basis of the HDI data

It is rather hard to address the issue of effectiveness of development programs especially in countries such as Ghana. This is largely due to the fact that it is only in recent years that Ghana has taken a truly democratic path marked by subsequent free and democratic elections. Before this period, even the positive effects of the programs underwent by donor countries or assisting institutions did not represent added value for the population at hand. In this sense it is argued "the West spent $2.3 trillion on foreign aid in the last five years and still had not managed to get twelve- cent medicines to children to prevent half of all malaria deaths. The west spent $2.3 trillion and still had not managed to get four-dollar bed nets to poor families." (Easterly, 2006) This aspect comes to point out a grim situation on the actual results delivered by the West in their attempts to fight poverty and scarcity of resources and development.

There are several reasons considered for this general failure in Africa. One is more theoretical but it points out to a rather particular issue: that of development philosophy. More precisely, according to Easterly there are several development strategies. These include the "planners" and the "searchers." In his opinion, "searchers look for any opportunity to relieve suffering -- e.g. The cash for school program -- and don't get stuck on infeasible objectives (…) the planners (…)… [END OF PREVIEW]

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