On Tuesday, September 26th 2017, Prof. Gareth Austin, a renowned professor of Economic History at the University of Cambridge and a Fellow of Kings College London delivered a lecture at the Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA). The theme for the lecture was “Ghana’s Economic History, 60 Years after Independence”.
In his opening speech, Dr. Ofori-Mensah, the Director of Research at the IEA welcomed Prof. Austin to Ghana and to the Institute and gave a brief introduction about Prof. Austin’s background and the purpose of the lecture which was to critically examine the performance of the Ghanaian economy since independence – taking into account the external economic and political contexts. The expectation of the lecture and discussion was to re-ignite comprehensive debate on the best development approaches that fit the Ghanaian context and how this will further go on to influence policies that mitigate some of the key challenges facing the nation.
Prof. Austin who was a former editor of the Journal of African History and author of Labour, Land and Capital in Ghana: From Slavery to Free Labour in Asante; 1807 -1956 (2005) and many other publications, started the lecture by outlining the GDP growth in Ghana between the years 1957 – 2010. He made it clear that although Ghana’s economic growth was slow in 1957 there was hope for the future. GDP fell from 6% to less than 4% and from 1983 up until 2010, Ghana’s economic growth has been on a steady rise. Although GDP is increasing, Prof. Austin suggested that without repeating the mistakes of state-led import substitution industrialization, he believes “the state needs to have an active industrial policy, to take advantage of the growth of labour and human capital in the country over the past 60 years”.
Prof Austin’s lecture focused on three main points which were; “Why the slow growth and then catastrophic decline of the era of state-led development policies,1957-83”, “Why the recovery and growth since 1983”, and “Still no industrialization: why not, and what can the past suggest about what needs to be done”
The lecture was well- attended by key stakeholders including members of Parliament, members of the Supreme Court of Ghana, other government officials, academia, members of diplomatic corps, representatives from the Ghana Military, traditional and religious leaders and the media. Among the dignitaries in attendance were Justice Dotse of the Supreme Court of Ghana, Mrs. Nana Konadu Agyeman-Rawlings (Former First Lady of Ghana), Nii Okaidja III (Gbese Mantse) , Mustapha Hamid (Minister of Information), H.E Andrew Barnes (Australian High Commissioner), H.E Giovanni Favilli ( Italian Ambassador) , H.E Kim Sungsoo (Korean Ambassador) and Mr Sam Okudzeto (Member of the Council of State) amongst others.
Date: Tuesday, 26th September, 2017
Time: 2:30pm – 5:00pm
Venue: Ambassador Birgit Storgaard Dialogue Centre, IEA