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Ghana takes steps to avoid oil curse

The 'model' West African nation of Ghana last week announced a five-year road map to make sure the economy is not overly dependent on oil, but the policy papers are short on details.

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In December, when the small West African nation of Ghana started pumping oil, President John Atta Mills said oil revenues would be used to transform the country into a “modern industrial nation” and reduce its economic dependence on the export of raw materials.

Months later, the Ministry of Trade and Industry has launched a new industrial policy that has been lauded by some as Ghana’s most comprehensive industrialization plan since the 1960s, when the nation’s first president, Kwame Nkrumah, sought to transform Ghana into an economically self-sufficient nation that would no longer rely on importing goods produced in other nations.

The policy – which the minister for trade and industry, Hanna Tetteh, called an “important historical occasion” in the nation’s journey toward middle-income status – offers incentives to local and foreign companies to invest in the manufacturing sectors in order to curb Ghana’s economic dependence on mining and agriculture.

Five-year road map to balance

The two policy papers, titled "Ghana’s Industrial Policy" and the "Industrial Sector Support Program (ISSP)," provide a broad five-year road map for Ghana’s development into a modern industrialized economy. The two documents work in tandem: the Industrial Policy provides the road map and the ISSP provides basic guidelines for implementation.

There is a strong emphasis on the development of local technical and scientific training to encourage innovation, self-sufficiency, and local employment, as well as the need to domestically produce machinery. The government has also pledged to make credit reading available to businesses and establish strong regulatory framework to govern industrial relations and the quality of goods.

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