Daily Maverick (Johannesburg)

4 August 2014

Ghana: Is Africa's Model Republic Losing Its Shine?

analysis

It's not always easy to point to an African country that's getting it all right, with one notable exception - Ghana, the thriving West African democracy that has also been developing at a phenomenal pace. But with the Ghanaian economy in freefall, even this role model must now come with big caveats. By SIMON ALLISON.

The African role models for African progress, such as they are, tend to be split into two main camps: the democrats and the developers.

The democrats are countries with vibrant, thriving democracies and a basic respect for civil rights and liberties - imperfect, sure, but certainly progressive in relation to their authoritarian neighbours and, usually, their authoritarian pasts. Think Senegal, or Tanzania.

These are countries where political space exists, where media is not entirely state-controlled and where civil society is free to play an active role in development. These political rights don't usually translate into particularly impressive economic growth, however; democracy is not necessarily a spur to socio-economic progress.

On the other hand there are the developers, the countries that prioritise education, health and poverty relief over indulgences such as freedom of speech and assembly. The poster child for this 'benevolent dictatorship' approach is Rwanda,...

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