Ghana in search of development : The challenge of governance, economic management and institution building

Abstract: Why did Ghana, a country that was favourably endowed in its economic and social life, and judged to have considerable head start over other countries in Sub-Saharan Africa in the 1950s, and for which all predictions pointed to a bright future, come to experience a classic socioeconomic decline and is now struggling to survive?This study endeavours to explain how and why this happened. Combining sociological, economic and political, as well as institutional perspectives at the methodological level, the study focuses on the interplay between state politics and socioeconomic development. It provides a model, which suggests that Ghana's postcolonial development has suffered in several respects mainly as a result of the failure or inability of governing elites to develop 'consensual' politics and a clearly specified long-term development objective that could be widely understood, accepted and have relevance for policy-making. The study. argues that the inter-elite rivalry and ideological conflict that characterised the independence struggle continued to be played out in the postcolonial era, such that, the political system was unable to ensure a smooth transition from one model of development to another. It further argues that military praetorianism and neopatrimonial domination of the state, with their attendant arbitrary rule and lack of public accountability and transparency in the ruling process have undermined the capacity of the state to develop and rationalize itself not only for the developmental tasks it assumed, but also, to provide a predictable and calculable socioeconomic and political environment that could sustain development.This study maintains that a detailed historico-sociological analysis of Ghana's socioeconomic and political environment, and the political conditions that give rise or shape to such an environment provides a promising point of departure from which we could investigate what failed Ghana. The study critiques certain prevailing orthodoxies: modernisation, dependency and neo-liberal economic theories in development studies, for their inadequate attention to the state, institutional frameworks and the specific contexts within which development struggles are waged.The study develops the thesis that without some stability in the governing process, a rational- bureaucratic state, respect for property, and predictability in the macroeconomic management systems, as well as calculability in the legal and administrative framework, long-term development cannot be sustained. The study contends that governance, economic management and institution building are basic challenges facing Ghana in the search for development.

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