The EIU in its country report on Ghana released on May 13, 2019, stated it would be difficult for the opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) under former President John Dramani Mahama, to portray itself as the better custodian of Ghana’s economy, especially as the country’s growth outlook looks fairly strong.
The EIU has over the years released similar reports and predictions on Ghana’s elections, which in a number of cases have turned out to be right.
Nana Akufo-Addo in the 2016 election, beat then President Mahama by polling 5,716,026 million votes, representing 53.85 per cent, while Mahama polled 4,713,277 million votes representing 44.40 per cent, the worse so far for an incumbent President.
Election watchSpecifically, on elections, the EIU stated “Nana Akufo-Addo, the president, and his NPP will see the country’s economic situation generally improve during the remainder of their terms of office. In the presidential election, it says Akufo-Addo will face a challenge from Mahama— Ghana’s President from 2012 to early 2017, who was elected leader of the opposition NDC in February 2019.”
It stated that “the 2016 legislative election was won by the NPP; and the campaign was dominated by the faltering economy, which many Ghanaians still associate with Mr Mahama.”
Accordingly, “The Economist Intelligence Unit believes it will be difficult for the NDC under Mr Mahama to portray itself as the better custodian of Ghana’s economy, especially as the country’s growth outlook is fairly strong.”
They, therefore, stated that they “expect Mr Akufo-Addo and the NPP to secure re-election in 2020.”
They, however, noted that, “if the NDC can present a coherent opposition and hold the NPP to account on unfulfilled campaign promises particularly on job creation and industrialisation, where progress has been generally slow and success patchy—the election could be closely contested.”
The EIU report, which is an outlook of Ghana for 2019 to 2023, did not only present findings on its election watch, but also analysed Ghana’s political stability, international relations, policy trends, fiscal policy, monetary policy, inflation, exchange rates and general economic growth.
Political and economic outlook
On political and economic outlook, the EIU report stated that Ghana’s overall political stability was not in question, but the contested political landscape would continue to aggravate tensions between the ruling NPP and the opposition NDC.
It stated that the NPP’s ambitious industrialisation programme would enjoy some success, with ongoing investment expected to continue, but progress would be hampered by structural weaknesses and regional imbalances within Ghana.
It also noted that rising oil and gas production would support real GDP growth in the 2019-23 forecast periods.
“The government’s industrialisation push and moves to strengthen the banking sector will benefit non-oil economic growth, although credit is still relatively scarce.
Inflation will remain high in 2019, at a forecast average of 9.6 per cent, given a weakening currency and strong growth in private consumption. The rate will remain close to the upper bound of the official 6-10 per cent target range in 2020-23, for similar reasons. The cedi will remain prone to periods of volatility, given the ongoing domestic economic weakness of a high dependence on commodity prices.”
“From an average of GH¢4.58: US$1 in 2018, the currency will weaken to GH¢6.50: US$1 in 2023.”
The Economist Intelligence Unit forecasts that the current account would shift from an estimated deficit of 1.8 per cent of GDP in 2018 to a surplus of 1.1 per cent of GDP by 2023, owing to rising oil exports over the forecast period.”
The EIU report said Ghana’s underlying political stability is expected to endure over the forecast period, despite an acrimonious party-political landscape. The two dominant parties—the ruling NPP and the NDC—have alternated in power since the return of multiparty politics in 1992, and their rivalry will remain the key feature of the political scene.
It said instances of intimidation and violence between their supporters reported at recent general elections were likely to continue, although such incidents were very limited outside election campaigns, and were not expected to lead to broader unrest.
It said: “Corruption in the public sector remains endemic and a source of anger among the population. In February 2018, a special prosecutor, Martin Amidu, was sworn in, with the remit of reducing graft. Progress has not yet been reported, but pressure to reduce corruption will rise ahead of the 2020 election. Failure to address this issue could weigh on voter confidence in the political system, although such grievances are relatively low-level.”
It stated that despite the trend of public appointments on the basis of party affiliation, which is one of the reasons for the oversized government team of over 110 ministers, there were fewer opportunities at the lower levels of politics, which might cause resentment among the party ranks and could depress voter turnout as members at grass-roots level play a key role in local campaigning.
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