PARTNER-ATLAS

GHANA

as a partner for strengthening a values and rules-based world order

01 — The key questions for the Partner-Atlas

RELEVANCE: What relevance does Ghana have for Germany with regards to "strengthening a values and rules-based world order"?

Despite its relatively small population of approximately 28 million inhabitants, Ghana is growing in relevance for Germany. This is evident not least of all from the fact that Ghana has been included in the Compact with Africa project since 2017 and became one of Germany’s reform partner countries in the same year. Ghana’s willingness to accept reforms in the economic and fiscal policy sector, along with its framework, which is relatively stable and reliable compared to many other Sub-Saharan African countries, made Ghana an interesting partner for the G20, and especially for Germany (as a reform partnership).

Although Ghanaian democracy has to overcome its challenges, through several changes of government and presidents in largely peaceful and fair elections, it has now achieved 28 years of democratic stability, which is something that Ghanaians can be proud of. According to the Ibrahim Index, Ghana ranks 6th among Sub-Saharan African countries as of 2018 in terms of rule of law, a slight improvement. This rating includes indicators such as corruption, human rights, and the judiciary. In terms of economic policy, Ghana could play an even more interesting role for German companies if, on the one hand, protectionist measures were dismantled and more secure investment opportunities were established, and if, on the other hand, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) actually operated borderless trade. The current government under Akufo-Addo is signalling economic commitment by managing to bring the Secretariat of the African Union’s African Continental Free Trade Area to Ghana.

Ghana also stands out compared to other African countries when it comes to dealing with the coronavirus pandemic, which has officially held the country in its grip since mid-March 2020. Close cooperation with the World Health Organisation, active communication regarding the spread of the virus, and measures the government has taken to contain it, attest to its professional handling of the situation.

All of these individual factors make Ghana an anchor of stability for Germany in the region. Nevertheless, it should be pointed out that the vast majority of the Ghanaian population does not support the social values and practices of Europe or Germany (e.g. regarding homosexuality), and indeed firmly rejects them. There is still a strong association with religious institutions, which determines the set of values of both individuals and society.

WILLINGNESS: To what extent is Ghana willing to work with Germany in realising this interest?

With regard to the areas outlined above, many people are aware that Ghanaian democracy needs further development. There has been a presidential democracy in Ghana since the start of the Fourth Republic in 1993, and this is unquestionably influenced by the important partners of Great Britain and the United States. However, the importance of these countries has declined in recent years for various reasons. China has not (yet) been able to claim this area for itself.

In the economic sector, there has been a German-Ghanaian, mixed economic commission at ministerial level since 2019 which promotes the regular exchange of views with respect to issues of trade and investment in the respective countries. Ghana has recognised the importance of regularly exchanging views with trading partners. At the same time, this initiative is interpreted by German economic interests as an encouraging sign that Ghana wants to initiate economic reforms. In addition to this cooperation, Germany is involved through various institutions in the economic promotion of (young) entrepreneurs and in vocational training, which the Ghanaian ministry responsible would like to see more oriented toward the German dual model (vocational, simultaneous on-the-job and in-classroom training programmes).

Ghana’s willingness to commit itself internationally within the framework of the United Nations and to stand up for the values and rules of this international community should also be mentioned. For example, both President Mahama and President Akufo-Addo have been involved in the SDG Advocate Group since 2015 and 2017 respectively. In addition, Ghana sends approximately 3,000 of its soldiers to participate in various UN peacekeeping missions throughout the world. It should be emphasised that, for quite a small country, Ghana is involved to a remarkable extent not only at the UN level, but also in ECOWAS and in the African Union (AU) and is seeking to promote peace processes.

STATUS QUO: How close is Germany and Ghana's current cooperation in this area?

German development cooperation with Ghana is particularly striking. German state institutions have considerably expanded their programmes in recent years, mainly because of Ghana’s special status for Germany, whereas there is a contrary trend in other European nations, which are tending to reduce or phase out their involvement.

Ghana is especially impressed by Germany’s economic development which it would like to learn from and (increasingly) profit from. Mutual visits by high-ranking politicians and entrepreneurs have become particularly frequent under the current president. Akufo-Addo himself has travelled to Germany five times since taking office in January 2017, while Chancellor Merkel visited Ghana in 2018. A ten-year partnership between the federal state of North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW) and Ghana is also experiencing renewed momentum under the new state government in NRW.

It is not uncommon to hear from Ghanaian politicians that they would rather work with the Germans than the Chinese – but either German financial resources are insufficient or the administrative processes for implementing a project take far too long.

POTENTIAL: What is the potential for strengthening the partnership between Germany and Ghana in this area?

Germany has managed to become an important partner for Ghana in the past decade. Apart from Chancellor Merkel and President Akufo-Addo having developed amicable connections over and above a good working relationship, this partnership is also evident in other areas, such as politics, business or civil society. Germany is supporting Ghana to the tune of millions of euros in dealing with the consequences of the coronavirus pandemic.

If more and more win-win situations can be created between the two countries, this partnership can also serve as a model for other African countries. Ghana’s reputation in the region is very good, and many neighbouring countries regard Ghana’s peaceful democratic development, which has now been underway for three decades, with admiration. This may mean that Ghana will not only remain the anchor of stability that it is, but that it will also serve as a positive example for neighbouring countries.

POLICY RECOMMENDATION: What in German foreign policy has to change in order to fully exploit this potential?

Ghanaians regard Germany as the most successful European country, perceiving it not only as the economic but also as the political driving force in and for Europe, a strong partner with whom they want to develop a good relationship. The Compact with Africa and the reform partnership, for example, have raised this to a qualitatively new level, which must be consolidated. At the same time, it is the responsibility of the association of Europeans to present real alternatives to, for example, engaging with the Chinese.

Over and above development policy, consideration should also be given to how entrepreneurial engagement can be promoted between the countries. This can be achieved via the creative expansion of previous foreign investment instruments but should also include a significant improvement in the economic framework conditions in the relevant countries. The German side must play an active and decisive role in this process, taking a much more proactive stance in support of these improvements at a political level.

In particular, this requires a more vigorous interest-driven policy by Germany, which should be based on partnership.

Burkhardt Hellemann heads the KAS Office in Ghana.

GHANA

  • Population: 31,072,940
  • Capital: Accra
  • Interest: Strengthening a Values and Rules-based World Order
  • Region: Sub-Saharan Africa
  • Potential partner countries: Ethiopia, Botswana, Ghana, Nigeria, Senegal, South Africa

04 — The region

Sub-Saharan Africa

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SOUTH AFRICA

According to Federal Minister Müller, Africa is to become the “green continent of renewable energies”. South Africa, the continent’s most developed economy, is pursuing ambitious goals in this field, similar to what is being debated in Germany. Examples include the reduction of CO2 emissions and minimizing the dependence on coal. In order to do so, South Africa has introduced a carbon tax in 2019.

  • Population: 59,308,690
  • Capital: Bloemfontain, Capetown, Pretoria
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KENYA

Kenya is the most stable country in East Africa and is an economy that is oriented toward the west. With consistently strong economic growth in the twelve years before the coronavirus crisis and a GDP of just under 88 billion US dollars (2018), Kenya is the largest economy in East Africa and a growth engine for the entire region. Thanks to the port of Mombasa and the airport in Nairobi, the country is an important hub for trade and finance. Many international companies have chosen Kenya as the seat of their (East) Africa branches.

  • Population: 53,771,296
  • Capital: Nairobi
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GHANA

Despite its relatively small population of approximately 28 million inhabitants, Ghana is growing in relevance for Germany. This is evident not least of all from the fact that Ghana has been included in the Compact with Africa project since 2017 and became one of Germany’s reform partner countries in the same year. Ghana’s willingness to accept reforms in the economic and fiscal policy sector, along with its framework, which is relatively stable and reliable compared to many other Sub-Saharan African countries, made Ghana an interesting partner for the G20, and especially for Germany (as a reform partnership).

  • Population: 31,072,940
  • Capital: Accra
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NIGERIA

With a population of around 200 million, Nigeria is not only the largest country in Africa, but it has also been the continent’s largest economy for some years now. The country is rich in oil and gas and is one of the largest oil exporters in the world. Nonetheless, Nigeria faces immense security and economic problems, which are worsening as a result of the coronavirus pandemic and could further destabilise the entire region in the medium to long term, posing major challenges for Europe. This applies both to the European interest in supporting the Sahel states in their fight against terrorism and to reducing irregular migration from Africa.

  • Population: 206,139,589
  • Capital: Abuja
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NIGER

The unstable security situation throughout the Sahel region reveals the weakness of state authorities in the region. Niger’s security forces are also struggling to exercise effective control of the country. Several terrorist groups, such as the Islamic State or Boko Haram, regularly attack military bases and also civilians. Niger is also one of the poorest countries in the world and is dealing with numerous governance problems, including regular accusations of corruption against government representatives or officials. There have even been deaths during demonstrations by young people against the rampant corruption and bad governance. The Nigerien government’s measures against the coronavirus, especially the closure of mosques, have also led to violent clashes between mainly young demonstrators and the security forces. Amnesty International is also protesting against the use of the controversial cybercrime prevention law to suppress voices critical of the government in the context of the coronavirus pandemic.

  • Population: 24,206,644
  • Capital: Niamey
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