Wednesday, July 06, 2022

“I for lef Ghana”

 “I want to leave Ghana”

Food prices in Ghana have risen by 30% over the last year. Energy costs have also climbed sharply and inflation is running at 27%.

“I used to eat three times a day, now only once,” says Oboh, her words echoed by the others. “I wait until 2pm, in the middle of the day. Then I buy a heavy double portion of banku [a cassava-based dish] with fish and two packs of water. That’s the only way I can provide for my children and make sure they eat even when I can’t.”

 Officials have repeatedly stressed that the economic challenges are largely ripple effects of the war in Ukraine, which has disrupted global food chains. President Nana Akufo-Addo has stressed the war has compromised food security in Africa, echoing the concerns of other African leaders. Countries such as Ghana, heavily reliant on food imports, have been most vulnerable.

Yet many at the market lay the blame on government failings. 

To Appiah, the war in Ukraine is just the latest excuse. “First, a few years after they came into power, the government said there were economic struggles all over the world, then they blamed the pandemic, now it’s the Ukraine war, when we know they are the ones who have failed.”

The cost of sending money to her parents in northern Ghana has risen owing to a levy adopted by the government last month. The 1.5% tax on all electronic transactions targets the widespread use of mobile money payments, which are hugely popular in Ghana. The government has said the levy will raise 6.9bn cedis (£710m) this year, a fraction of the £39bn national debt. The levy was in part a response to the lack of revenues Ghana was generating, according to officials. yet it has not been enough.

In May, Ghana’s central bank raised interest rates to 19%, following similar moves by countries such as South Africa and Egypt.

In the 2016 presidential election Akufo-Addo pledged to build a national cathedral, calling it the manifestation of a promise he had made to God and “an act of thanksgiving to the Almighty for his blessing, favour, grace and mercy on our nation.”

Designed by the renowned Ghanaian architect Sir David Adjaye, it is to be built on a 14-acre compound in Osu, an affluent part of Accra. The government says the estimated £285m cost will be paid for mainly by donors, though a recent allocation of £2.4m of state funds for the project ignited outrage.

Alex, a 27-year-old delivery rider driving past the construction site, is sceptical. “I can’t understand it. How do they reason that this is the best time to pour money into a cathedral?” he says. “Ghanaians are suffering and this is what they are spending our money on? The condition of the country is so tough, so almost everyone wants to leave to further their life,” Alex says. “Because we don’t know when things will get better.”

Lean times for Ghana’s yam traders as cost of living crisis bites | Ghana | The Guardian

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