A boat on the beach in Ghana

Ghana Politics December 2020

Ghana: Ghanaians gear up for December elections; broadly market-friendly policies expected to continue

The Ghanaian electorate will head to the polls on 7 December to elect a president and Parliament. The presidential vote is tightly contested, with both main candidates having a real shot at securing the top office: The race once again pits incumbent President Nana Akufo-Addo of the center-right new Patriotic Party (NPP) against former President John Mahama of the center-left National Democratic Congress (NDC), whom Akufo-Addo beat in 2016. Issues faced by the current government, such as managing the Covid-19 crisis and tackling corruption, are likely to be decisive factors. Both candidates are moderate, and regardless of the victory, economic policy should remain broadly market-friendly. However, spates of violence in the build-up to the election could dampen sentiment in the near term.

The NPP is running on a program of policy continuation focused on stimulating growth, development and investment in the real economy, partly through industrialization and digitalization. In the industrial sector, the NPP would focus on supporting locally produced goods, including through finalizing the bauxite refinery and establishing an iron and steel industry. Meanwhile, there would also be a focus on upgrading physical infrastructure, which should benefit productivity and thereby growth.

Meanwhile, the NDC is running on a platform of prudent macroeconomic policies to reduce the public debt stock, inflation and tax burden. Moreover, job creation is the key anchor point of the NDC’s program, with the party banking on private-sector tax cuts to create one million jobs and transition to a more knowledge-based economy. In addition, the NDC is aiming to promote greater Ghanaian ownership and participation in the economy.

With the country’s electoral spectrum divided in two, the NDC enjoys support in the Volta and northern regions, while the NPP is supported in the Ashanti region. The key to victory will be securing Greater Accra, as well as central and western regions, which tend to be swing regions. Analysts note that while the race is too close to call, concerns such as Covid-19 and corruption will likely influence voters. Although fighting corruption was a key pillar of the NPP’s agenda, little seems to have been achieved in that area. Meanwhile, the economy has suffered from elevated unemployment levels and underinvestment in physical infrastructure, education and health, with cracks particularly visible since the onset of the pandemic. Consequently, dissatisfaction with the current government’s handling of the economy has risen, making the election an effective referendum on President Akufo-Addo.

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