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Huge interest in Ghana’s aid to trade transition

12.02.2019  09:41
A cold and dark evening in Copenhagen, 90 people gathered in IDA Global (Engineers in Denmark’s meeting venue) to discuss the transition which Ghana is currently undergoing from aid to trade. More people were on the waiting list, and this overwhelming interest came as a surprise to the organisers

The intense discussions and the many questions to the presenters during the 3 ½ hour long meeting illustrated that Ghana remains high on the agenda in Denmark. It clearly showed that the ongoing transition is not a phasing out of the Danish-Ghanaian cooperation but a process towards a more diversified cooperation, including private investments, trade cooperation, strategic sector cooperation involving various Danish authorities - and of course continued political cooperation and consular cooperation. 

The panel included Ambassador Tove Degnbol, Morten Elkjaer from the Investment Fund for Developing Countries (IFU), Lena Warming from the Danish company Kamstrup, Nanna Hvidt Head of the Evaluation Department in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and Ole Winckler from Danish Institute for International Studies (DIIS).

The five presenters expressed different views on the prospects for a successful transition where the Government of Ghana takes over the full responsibility of activities, which have previously been funded by Denmark and other developing partners. Based on analysis of the debt to GDP ratio and the difficulties of collecting tax, Ole Winckler was not very optimistic concerning the prospects of Ghana meeting the SDGs in a post-donor perspective. Nanna Hvidt highlighted the positive findings in the recent evaluation of the Danish-Ghanaian development cooperation during the years 2008-2017 but also drew attention to the lack of structural transformation of the Ghanaian economy as a serious constraint (read more here). Morten Elkjaer explained about the positive possibilities of the Rural Development Fund, initiated by the Embassy and now led by IFU. Lene Warming illustrated the interest by Danish companies in doing business in Ghana through an account of the efforts by Kamstrup to sell smart meters in Ghana, which would go a long way to limit the water waste. And Tove Degnbol gave a relatively more optimistic presentation of the positive prospects for Danish companies of earning money in Ghana, while at the same time supporting President Nana Akufo-Addo’s vision of Ghana Beyond Aid

The audience, many of whom had a background in development work or research in Ghana, was concerned about the risk of deepening social inequalities when in the future development partners will no longer be funding basic social services as health, education, social protection, women’s and children’s rights, etc. They also proposed that Danida should continue supporting selected civil society organisations and think tanks after the phasing out of the traditional development cooperation. Many were interested in better understanding the nature of the private sector in Ghana, and a lot of questions were asked concerning the possibilities of improving the tax collection.

Personal experience and reflections were shared by members of the audience, and it became a very interesting evening where all participants (and presenters) got valuable new insights.

Three of the presentations (in Danish) can be downloaded here.


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