The choice of the next president of Ghana will be critical for the success of the country’s economic recovery.
Accordingly, the Brussels-based EU Reporter, has assessed Vice President Dr Mahamudu Bawumia of the governing New Patriotic Party (NPP) and former President John Dramani Mahama of the main opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) ahead of the battle in the 2024 general election to lead the country.
In his previous presidency Mahama, who was educated in Moscow, prioritised relations with Iran and other non-aligned states. More recently, he claimed that the Russian invasion of Ukraine had no impact on Ghana’s economic state, despite the direct impact on fuel and wheat prices caused by the war. He also berated Kristalina Georgieva, the director of the IMF, for saying that the main driver of the weakened economic situation was Covid-19 and the Russia-Ukraine conflict.
Mr. Mahama preferred instead to politicise the issue by claiming that these global events were secondary to mismanagement by the NPP.
However, Mr Mahama’s bizarre claims were tinged with irony.
While in office as President, his own government had been the subject of numerous allegations of corruption, including via Airbus, which was fined a record £3 billion by a London court after admitting that it had paid huge bribes to win contracts in several countries, including Ghana during Mahama’s NDC administration.
His government was accused of awarding over-inflated contracts to Mahama’s brother, while also overpricing a single-sourced power turbines deal by $350 million. The then President also admitted to receiving a Ford vehicle as a gift from a construction firm bidding from a substantial government contract.
This populist streak is a style of leadership that the region can ill afford.
Vice President Bawumia, by contrast, is a technocrat – a trained economist and central banker with no links to any scandals.
His initiatives under the Akufo-Addo government – including a major push towards digitalisation – have been roundly applauded.
The Ghanaian economy, battered as it has been by both war and pandemic, is showing signs of recovery, with GDP growth beating analysts’ expectations and inflation beginning to retreat.
Should this continue into next year, Bawumia’s position with the electorate will be stronger.