Ghana Protesters Demand Mahama Act to Revive Economic GrowthEkow Dontoh
Ghanaians marched to demand President John Dramani Mahama act on corruption and help revive economic growth in a country where Africa’s worst-performing currency in 2014 is adding pressure on inflation.
A petition was handed to Valerie Sawyerr, Mahama’s deputy chief of staff, said Nana Akwasi Awuah, convener of a group called Concerned Ghanaians for Responsible Governance, which organized the protest in the capital, Accra, today. The demands posted on Change.org called on the president to solve issues including a cedi that’s slumped 29 percent this year against the dollar, power blackouts, poor roads, a lack of jobs and flooding.
“I’m part of today’s protest because of tomorrow and the next generation,” said Jones Domotey, a 34-year-old real-estate developer. “Our cedi is almost valueless. I’m losing my job because everything is expensive. Inputs are so high, Ghanaians cannot afford my houses.”
Economic growth in West Africa’s second-largest economy will slow this year, according to the International Monetary Fund, as a power shortage limits investment and the central bank said it may raise borrowing costs again this year to tame inflation spurred by the weakening currency.
Moody’s Investors Service cut the nation’s credit rating one level to B2 last week, citing increased financing costs, a rising debt ratio and vulnerability to external shocks. Fitch Ratings, which also has a negative outlook on Ghana’s debt, said the government risks stoking inflation after the central bank financed all of the budget gap for the first quarter.
The cedi has weakened 29 percent this year against the dollar and traded at 3.3601 per dollar by 2:18 p.m. in Accra, with local markets closed for a public holiday. Consumer prices rose 14.8 percent in May, the fastest pace in four years.
Earlier today, about 500 people gathered amid heavy rain at a park in Accra, about 2.2 miles from Mahama’s office and residence, known as Flagstaff House. The demonstrators wore red and black, carried signs with slogans about taxes and corruption and were contained by police officers until they dispersed. By mid-morning, about 100 people moved to TV3, a closely held broadcaster one street away from the presidency.
The peaceful demonstrations are a credit to the government and Ghanaians, Communications Minister Edward Omane Boamah told the crowd at TV3. Mahama didn’t mention the protests in a speech given to senior citizens in Accra today.
“In this current phase of our development, we have been met with several obstacles and challenges,” he said, according to e-mailed remarks. “I want to assure you that we will create change.”
Deputy Information Minister Felix Ofosu Kwakye and Ben Dotse Malor, director of communications at the presidency, didn’t answer calls made to their mobile phones. The group of protesters dispersed after the leaders handed over their petition to Sawyerr.
“We have made our issues known to the government,” organizer Awuah said. “We will protest again if things don’t improve.”