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Western Africa

Growing up, my mother has taken me with her on business trips around the world, but one place I have never been and would love to visit is Africa.  I have studied Africa in school and heard stories from friends about how different it is from the US.  Some people already talked about South Africa and I would love to go there some day, especially because of all the history associated with it.  Ghana is another country in Africa that I would love to visit someday.  One of my friends studied abroad there and looking through her pictures and talking about her experiences really made me want to travel there.  I actually do not know much about Ghana except that it is located on the western coast of Africa and it was controlled by the British until the late 1950s.  It was also named the Gold Coast by the Europeans due to its gold resources and more recently it is known to be part of the Ivory Coast.

CEPA is a think tank I found at the Harvard Kennedy School Library website that analyzes policies in Ghana.  Lately, Ghana has policy challenges arising due to the emergence of oil in the region.  The extraction of oil is generating profits, but the government must decide how to manage the revenues from the extraction.  There are currently three possibilities weighing on the government.  They could use the revenue for government investment in public infrastructure which would create jobs and give a boost to the nation’s economy on a macro level.  The second option for the government is to use the revenues to pay off debts which would lower interest rates and boost investment in the private sector.  Lastly, they could use the revenues to improve education and healthcare for its citizens.  Effective management of these revenues are essential to long-term growth and that is why CEPA is analyzing these different scenarios to figure out the best outcome.

After reading this article, I am interested in learning more about the economy in Ghana.  It seems that relative to other African countries, Ghana’s economy is growing and pretty stable.  Yet, there are still many social issues facing the government such as the poor education and healthcare for many of its citizens.  It would be interesting to study how the government must make policies that create a balance between promoting business and helping its citizens.



3 thoughts on “Western Africa

  1. Lauren, I spent a week in Ghana during Semester at Sea. Out of everywhere I visited, it actually hit me the hardest – it was the only time I ever doubted going abroad. I’m not sure why, but the country just did not resonate well with me. The economy isn’t really that stable to be honest… much of it is still market-based, and corruption, theft, and bribery runs rampant. I spent a day touring and shadowing a hospital and the conditions were unbelievable… little sanitation or hygiene, poor communication, really just unacceptable conditions. We were herded around the hospital and allowed to walk into rooms with patients lying on the beds, eerily reminiscent of a zoo. We even walked into their room where they perform abortions and found a recently bloody table, left unclean. We were all highly uncomfortable and to be honest it was a relatively traumatic experience. Socially, the people strive to be European and American, but are still stuck in very traditional ways – it is a very male-dominated society, particularly when it comes to the issue of marriage (bride prices are an interesting research subject for anyone who would like more information) and relationships. I don’t mean to hate on Ghana. It is a beautiful country with a lot of natural resources and a lot of promise in terms of fast global development. But when my (tiny) taxi is pulled over with 6 people in the backseat by military guards with rifles, and my driver presents a clearly fake driver’s license and we are allowed to proceed because we are white Americans, I doubt they are ready to become a powerful global force at this moment.

    Posted by Caitlin H. | March 21, 2012, 10:29 pm
  2. More Africa Love!

    What might be some of the pitfalls and promises of oil exploration and extraction there? Does any country have a “good record” of getting this right?

    Posted by Jordi | March 23, 2012, 10:47 am


  1. Pingback: Mvelaserve to expand in Africa | Fixed Accounting ® - March 30, 2012

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