Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Another stable African democracy threatens to unravel

As we celebrate Canada Day with beer, burgers, and fireworks, Ghanaians celebrate their Republic Day by marching on their capital. 

"Ghana is considered a model of democracy and stability in West Africa", according to the government of Canada. Ominously, those are the exact words they once used to describe Mali, right up until the day the wheels fell off. While Canada likes to boast about the millions in aid "given" to Ghana, that sum is dwarfed by the billions that the 19 Canadian mining companies operating there have taken out.

Ghana faces a number of issues that promise to do nothing but get worse, from a collapse in its currency to a crisis in youth unemployment. I'm no economist, but it would appear that an over-reliance on a development model that favours handing the resource sector to private foreign investment isn't working in the long-term interests of Ghana. 

A priority for Ghana needs to be solving the problem of tens of thousands of youth who graduate every year to find themselves without opportunities. A surplus of disaffected and disillusioned young people inevitably leads to their radicalization, as we see elsewhere in Africa and across the Middle East.

Relying on outside institutions and trade agreements for help in solving the problem is a dead end, especially when the help comes from countries like Canada, whose "foreign aid" is increasing tied into promoting its own mining sector, as in "we'll give you a million to fight poverty if you'll give our gold miners a billion in contracts".

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