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Saturday, July 18, 2020
To Be Like Singapore
Nearly 25 years ago, Jerry Rawlings, the president of Ghana at the time, presented a document to parliament. In it, he outlined an aggressive long-term plan that would improve his country's human and economic growth, rural and urban development, as well as overhaul its infrastructure. The aim was to follow Singapore's example. The document was called Vision 2020.
According to Rawling's vision, Singapore had transformed itself from a third-world country in the 1960s to a middle-income country in a short time. However, whereas the International Monetary Fund (IMF) lists Singapore as the third-richest country per capita on the planet, Ghana is languishing down at number 126. The vision appears to have badly stalled.
"We are in 2020, the time that we wanted to achieve a level of growth that is comparable to Singapore, but we have worse figures," Ziblim Alhassan, a Ghanaian policy analyst, told DW.
While the west African nation has managed to reduce its poverty rate in the past decades, the increased standard of living is not evenly distributed. Ziblim Alhassan said the number of Ghanaians living in extreme poverty has increased.
The 2017 Ibrahim Index of African Governance shows that although Ghana remains among the 10 top-scoring countries on the continent in terms of democracy and good governance, it is also among the 10 countries that have deteriorated the most economically over the last decade.
Rwanda is the only country in sub-Saharan Africa that has come close to emulating Singapore's rags-to-riches story, albeit not in the same spectacular style.
The small landlocked central African nation boasts years of strong economic growth, pristine streets in the capital Kigali and donor praise for fighting corruption. "Beating the odds is a challenge we Rwandans and Singaporeans share," Rwanda's President Paul Kagame told Singapore's Prime Minister Lee Hsein Loong, the son of Lee Kuan Yew, on a visit to the Asian state in 2008. Kagame referred to Singapore as "an inspiration for us in Rwanda," Reuters reported then.
Critics of Kagame's government argue that economic gains have come at the cost of political freedoms like a clampdown on dissenting views and media rights. Kagame has been president of Rwanda since 2000. By contrast, Ghana has peacefully exchanged power in four presidencies.