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Thursday, February 28, 2013

Ghana: Recent Developments and U.S. Relations

Nicolas Cook
Specialist in African Affairs

Ghana: Bilateral Cooperation and Leadership Engagement 

Ghana is considered a model for many of the outcomes that many Members of Congress have long sought to achieve in sub-Saharan Africa in the areas of authorizations; appropriations and program guidance; and oversight. Ghana has received a large U.S. Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) Compact and may soon receive a second. It is also a recipient of substantial U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and State Department bilateral aid, much of which is channeled through three presidential development initiatives:

  • the Global Climate Change (GCC) initiative; 
  • Feed the Future (FtF), a global food security and poverty reduction initiative; and 
  • the President’s Malaria Initiative (PMI) and the Global Health Initiative (GHI). 

Ghana also hosts USAID and U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) regional offices and the USAID-administered West Africa Trade Hub. The Hub focuses on expanding intra-regional and bilateral trade with countries in the region, a key area of current congressional interest and a pillar of the Obama Administration’s U.S. Strategy Toward Sub-Saharan Africa, released in June 2012.

Ghana is also one of four initial Partnerships for Growth (PfG) countries. PfG, implementation of which began in 2011 in El Salvador, is intended to advance public and private bilateral cooperation with selected countries whose top leaders demonstrate commitment to good governance and sustainable development. Ghana hosts regular visits by Members of Congress, and in 2009 President Barack Obama signaled that ties remain close by traveling to Ghana, the only sub-Saharan African country that he has visited as president. 

Good Governance and Stability 

President Obama’s visit was premised on Ghana’s record of having built a relatively robust democracy and a growing economy, albeit in the face of widespread poverty and diverse development challenges, making it a stable country in an often unstable region. During his visit he lauded its democratic and economic development record and made a major policy address relating these issues to good governance in Africa and the wider developing world. Ghana’s stability is maintained, in part, by its citizens’ commitment to constitutional governance. Since undergoing a transition from single party rule in the early 1990s, it has held a series of peaceful but close elections, two involving inter-party transfers of state power. The most recent elections, held in early December 2012, were closely contested. In all cases, opposition challengers have either accepted poll results outright or contested them through the courts, rather than through the use of violence or street protests. Constitutional governance was also upheld in July 2012, when state power was rapidly and transparently transferred to the current president, John Dramani Mahama, after the death of President John Atta Mills.

Ghana has also contributed to efforts to maintain stability and end conflict in the surrounding West Africa region, and regularly contributes to international peacekeeping operations elsewhere. It receives U.S. capacity-building assistance in this area, as well as aid to help counter threats posed by international narcotics trafficking.

Development and Economy: Progress and Challenges 

Ghana’s economy has grown substantially in recent years, based both on increases in farm and mining exports and, more recently, oil production, which is likely to increase its strategic importance to the United States. Growing oil earnings may help fund development, but may also pose resource governance and fiscal management challenges. Economic growth has led to socioeconomic and infrastructure construction gains, but Ghana continues to face profound development challenges and threats to the rule of law linked to corruption and trafficking in illegal drugs and persons.

Date of Report: January 4, 2013
Number of Pages: 27
Order Number: R42874
Price: $29.95

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