In April this year, there was speculation that Theresa May’s government would scrap the £12bn budget for International aid the UK had taken pride in since they met the UN target of 0.7% for ODA (Official Donor Assistance). Even though that speculation was quashed in the same month when Theresa May said the UK will continue to give that aid. Nonetheless, I wish it were true for #Ghana that the aid will stop, simply because Ghana does not need it.

Bill Gates thought differently though, urging the UK not to withdraw its promise to foreign aid. He said removing the #Foreign Aid would damage the influence the western countries have and risk the saving of lives, especially in Africa.

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He also mentioned as an example the impact of foreign aid in helping to eradicate malaria has been immense. While this is true, malaria is the kind of disease that if you have access to good healthcare, you would not die from the disease. Look at private healthcare in Ghana, I have access to it because my parents can afford it and that’s why if I get sick with malaria, I will have the right medication and care to ensure I do not die from the disease. However, a child in Bolgatanga; a town in the Upper East region, one of the northern regions of Ghana, may not have access to that medication and care because his/her parents cannot afford it.

The problem here isn’t that people are dying of malaria and so we need foreign help, it is the mere fact that people who are poor do not have access to the opportunities that could get rid of their poverty.

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So Mr Gates, as much as you say foreign aid saves lives, in Ghana, all our government needs to do is step up its game plan and create opportunities for the people in poverty to be able to contribute to and improve Ghana’s socio-economic status. For starters, mosquitoes breed in stagnant waters and contaminated environments - thus, we simply need to clean our environment so that no mosquitoes may breed and therefore would not spread malaria. A clean environment doesn't require foreign aid. To have a clean environment requires the Ghanaian government to enforce sanitation policies.

Foreign aid can only do so much

Ghana has been receiving aid since the 1960s. It took off as a vibrant middle-income country with a sound economic and infrastructural base right from independence in 1957, but that was short-lived when Dr Kwame Nkrumah was removed from the presidency by means of a coup d’état in 1966. Successful post-colonial Ghana came to a screeching halt, and Ghana began to experience a decline in GDP per income.

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Between 1966 and 1983, Ghana witnessed seven changes in political leadership and out of those seven, five were military. This is what drew the attention for donor assistance – to salvage the economy from total collapse.

Ghana also attracted donor assistance in the late 1990s. Ghana was beginning to live up to its earned title – a model for Africa’s development – the country was adamant in the pursuance of democratic governance of which it benefitted from as a result of aid. Although Ghana has been one of the largest beneficiaries of donor assistance, the country is still classified a Heavily Indebted Poor Country (HIPC) according to the World Bank. According to a study by Paul Appiah-Konadu, in the African Journal of Economic Review, foreign aid and interest payments have a negative impact on economic growth in Ghana while labour, capital and government expenditure have a positive impact on economic growth and development in Ghana.

African development experts like Dambisa Moyo, disagree with foreign aid in Africa and they do not stand alone. For the whole of Africa, aid has been a hindrance to economic growth of the continent and has created a dependency syndrome – something we do not need yet exists because powerful countries continue to prowl on the natural resources of the developing world to forward their own agendas keeping Africa in the unending cycle of despair.

More so, foreign aid isn’t managed well among agencies in Ghana. If donor aid is not properly coordinated, the desired results will not be achieved. In the northern regions of Ghana, there are more than 500 NGOs that claim to provide development assistance. Most of which are improperly managed aggravating the state of economic deprivation and in turn become an administrative burden. Transparency and foreign aid go hand-in-hand. Ghanaian communities do not trust the NGOs operating in their communities without being accountable or transparent.

Poverty is a result of absent opportunities

The primary objectives of ODA to Ghana is to promote #Economic Development welfare which is usually assessed by the impact ODA has on economic growth and poverty reduction. Taking a look at poverty alleviation in Ghana, even though the country has halved extreme poverty already, the lack of effectiveness that donor aid has on Ghana is evident in the recent data on national poverty rate which stands at 24.2% as of 2012 according to the World Bank. The lack of effectiveness can be seen in the disparity between the Northern regions of Ghana and the Southern regions of Ghana. The southern regions of Ghana can be described as wetter, agricultural, and mostly thriving, whereas, the northern regions can be described as drier, more pastoral and economically deprived. This disparity echoes the testament that even though, lots of foreign aid inflows to Ghana, not much is done to attest to that aid, in the areas that need it most.

Poverty in Ghana remains an obstacle. Since foreign aid cannot do much, the government of Ghana has to understand that poverty is of our own making and that poverty exists as a result of absent opportunities. The Ghanaian government has to consider other avenues internally, to solve and rid poverty for good. How? Give the people who are 'poor' a chance. Provide accessible school blocks to children in the northern regions of Ghana and in addition to that, provide a means for which they can have updated school textbooks and accessories. Reduce inequality in these regions by setting up education for girls and information skills for women in those regions. Improve healthcare in the NHIS and continue to subsidise medication for them. How would they afford the subsidised healthcare? Invest in educating parents/guardians in the informal sector so that they may get the opportunity to learn and earn. How would you teach them to manage their money and consequently contribute to the country’s economic development? Microfinance is the answer.

The government of Ghana has to put in place a system due for success suitable to the needs of the people of the northern regions of Ghana so that they too may enjoy what their country has to offer. This can be done without the need for foreign aid, just re-thinking and managing resources properly, through prioritisation.

Receiving aid in Ghana is detrimental to the country in the long run. It increases external debt which makes the country, prone to becoming an unstable country and does not allow for internal local companies to develop and be of benefit to the nation and contributing to the economic development of Ghana as we wanted in the first place. This is our woe. The best way forward for Ghana is to invest in nurturing the country to gradually detach herself from dependency on donor aid in hopes of weaning the country off foreign aid. The government must focus on corruption-free havens so that everybody may have an equal share of the national cake and that those at the grassroots may also know what it is like to taste and be the beacon of hope for Africa.