Taking a realistic view
Going forward, we need to be cautious of the global policy space and the plethora of development models, which only confuses our governments. The millennium development goals (MDGs) is a case in point. We need to manage our expectations about the capability of governments, when we encourage them to sign global agreements that eradicate poverty, ensure that all children go to school even if they don’t learn anything, etc.
Let us be realistic in what we absolutely need from the state and what we can provide for ourselves. We should also be realistic when we romanticise Scandinavian countries and others who are able to provide good quality social services freely to its population. We often conveniently forget the astronomical taxes that their citizens pay to have these services, even as high as 40 to 50%. Equally important to their success is low levels of corruption which ensures an equitable and effective social service delivery.
The point is, let us be realistic in terms of our present circumstances, however tainted, and start making some difficult but pragmatic choices that will move us forward.
The paradigm shift we are proposing requires good political leadership (visionaries) but also a discerning population who understand the trade-offs and are willing to make sacrifices.
It would be difficult for a politician to run a campaign focusing on education and infrastructure while his or her opponent promises everything and more. If we are united and realistic in our thinking about development and are willing to make sacrifices in the present if assured of greater future rewards, we can elect the right leaders who may promise less but achieve more.
* Nana Adowaa Boateng is a Ghanaian national and a South African-based economist with more than 10 years of experience in economic policy analysis and public finance management in Africa. She has a PhD in Economics from the University of Witwatersrand (South Africa) and a MSc in Local Economic Development from the London School of Economics (UK).
** Michael Edem Akafia (Ghanaian) has a multi-disciplinary background in law (LLB, BL), economics (BA) and finance (MBA-Finance). He has extensive experience in private legal practice and has represented clients at all levels of Ghana’s court system. He currently advises Ghana’s leading gold producer and is an adjunct business law and jurisprudence lecturer.