By Kwei Quartey
Asia Times, 22 December 2012
Ghana held its general elections on December 7 and 8, 2012, re-electing incumbent President John Dramani Mahama. However, Nana Akufo-Addo, flag-bearer of the opposition New Patriotic Party, is challenging Mahama’s narrow win and intends to contest the result in court, a legal process that is sure to be prolonged. The verdict could potentially challenge Ghana’s generally stable and peaceful political environment. What will not change are the country’s close economic ties to China.
On my trip to Ghana in 2011, I observed Chinese foremen at the construction sites of the now completed George W Bush Highway. The massive Ministry of Defense building in Ghana’s capital, Accra, was constructed with a US$50 million Chinese grant. The Bui Hydroelectric Dam is a collaborative project of the government of Ghana and SinoHydro, a Chinese construction company. In 2012, China invested in a new Ghanaian airline that serves domestic routes, and it is likely that the China Airports Construction Corporation (CACC) will be involved in building Accra’s new international airport.
Ghana is not the only African country in which China operates. Indeed, China is the largest financier on the entire continent. Chinese corporations, financial institutions, and the government have invested billions of dollars in large new dams, for example.
A common charge is that Chinese companies prefer to bring in Chinese employees (and even prisoners) to work on African projects, rather than relying on a local labor force. But Zambian economist Dambisa Moyo maintains that in Zambia, at least, the ratio of African to Chinese workers exceeds 13:1, and that there is no evidence of Chinese prisoners working there.
As African countries like Ghana search for infrastructure improvements to accelerate their economic growth, China has sidelined the role of the West on the continent.
Phi Beta Iota: John Kerry will fail as Secretary of State unless two things happen: 1) we get an Open Source Agency (OSA) to give him the intelligence (decision-support) he needs and cannot get from the US secret intelligence world; and 2) on the basis of that decision-support, particularly with respect to South America, Africa, and Southern Asia, the Secretary of Defense agrees that $100 million a year should be transferred from Program 50 (Military) to Program 150 (International Affairs), but only to be used as matching grants that force transparency and voluntary harmonization of how the UN, its Specialized Agencies, other NGOs such as the Red Cross, and other governments invest in Stabilization & Reconstruction projects. The Agency for International Development (AID) has come a long way since Viet-Nam, and its tactical personnel are both courageous and intelligence. The same cannot be said for its management. Lacking intelligence (decision-support) and integrity (holistic analytics) and funding, they fund one-inch deep asphault roads that do not last, and have no longer-term plan such as the Chinese do — ports, high-speed rail, mining, all connected in a global grid that will within 100 years bury what is left of the Angle-American conspiracia.