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News
Date:15 Sep 2016
How crucial is democracy in achieving the SDGs in Ghana?

Today marks UN Democracy Day, a day set aside by the United Nations for promoting and upholding the principles of democracy.  The theme for this year, Democracy and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development reminds all countries about the importance of democracy in development and poverty reduction. Though Ghana has enjoyed a rapid growth and accelerated poverty reduction, cutting the poverty rate from 52.6% to 21.4% between 1991 and 2012, there is still a great deal of work to be done, and the day prompts all, of the country’s commitment towards the 17 SDGs developed through an unprecedented dialogue and consensus by UN Member States.

What should Ghana be doing?

In Ghana, the SDGs which took effect from January 2016 have been launched by President John Dramani Mahama, who has also been appointed as one of the SDGs Advocates to support the UN Secretary-General in generating the needed impetus and commitment for the SGDs, thereby placing a shared responsibility on all Ghanaians. It is also important to note that the SDGs have targets directly related to the tasks of local and regional governments and the achievement of these targets would largely depend on the collective efforts of Ghanaians. There is therefore the need to mobilize the efforts of the private sector and civil society in the development, implementation and monitoring of SDG policies and programs that focus on ending all forms of poverty, eradicating inequality and tackling climate change which are critical components of the Global Goals.

 

In particular, the roadmap for localizing the SDGs indicates that they would be achieved through concerted efforts from the bottom up. For citizens, it is imperative to note that this roadmap calls for raising public awareness, advocacy, and implementation and monitoring. These are important avenues for citizen involvement in the implementation of the SDGs and can be adapted to the specific contexts and needs of different cities and regions. All stakeholders must ensure that the needs of citizens get to the agenda of governments in this regard.

 

What Role Can ICT Play?

A critical question that agitates the minds of most Ghanaians is how to ensure equitable development. The ability to ensure equity in the allocation of resources is critical to the sustainable development of the country. According to the World Bank, with 10 percent increase in high speed internet connections, economic growth increases by 1.3 percent. In this regard, integrating ICT tools in all programs around the SDGs should become an integral part of the design and implementation, bearing in mind that these tools must be the widespread productive and creative resources in order to change the main production processes and service delivery.  It is also critical for government to appreciate the fact that, the process of integrating new tools into development processes may not come easy or cheap, but would require substantial investments in the beginning.

 

 If this is done, ICTs would play a critical role in Ghana’s quest to achieve the SDGs. It is imperative to note that mobile phone connectivity can play a vital role in increasing information on climate change, market, financial and health services to remote areas to drive the needed change in people’s lives in unprecedented ways. Though a lot of strides have been made in this regard, more needs to be done to ensure ICTs play a central role in the distribution of development dividends among all Ghanaians. It is therefore very important to note that, in many parts of Ghana, ICT infrastructure is a challenge.

 

What Role Can Political Stability Play?

Political stability and economic development are very much intertwined, and Ghana’s appreciable economic indicators since 1992 are enough proof that a stable political environment fosters economic growth and prosperity. Periods of uncertainty may result in reduction in domestic and foreign investments with debilitating effects on economic development, which will in turn affect the country’s ability to achieve the Global Goals. It is therefore very important to note that, political stability remains the most important asset for economic development.

The warning is that, though Ghana has successfully organized six peaceful elections since the reintroduction of democracy in 1992, Ghanaians must guard against any act that has the potential to derail the peace of the nation as the country goes into the 2016 Elections. If for nothing all, the examples of Cote D’Ivoire in 2012 and the recent mayhem in Gabon, following the presidential polls in that country provide enough warning to guide all Ghanaians to protect the peace which is a sine qua non for the attainment of the Global Goals which seek to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure that all people enjoy peace and prosperity. 

AEP 

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