Ghana has an opportunity in the coming decades to accelerate economic transformation and create more and better jobs through digital innovation and trade, World Bank Country Director, Pierre Laporte, has said.
Speaking at the launch of the newly world Bank's latest Country Economic Memorandum (CEM) titled, "Ghana Rising - Accelerating Economic Transformation and Creating Higher Quality Jobs," he said after navigating through the heights of the pandemic, the country could faster economic transformation through fostering greater global integration, technological transformation, macroeconomic stability, and financial sector development.
Mr Larporte, who is also in charge of Liberia and Sierra Leone, said Ghana had all it took to continue being an economic development star if it took the right steps to nurture growth and job creation
He said Ghana faced an acute challenge of generating more and better jobs and had a 'missing middle' of employment in mid-productivity sectors.
"This is the time for Ghana to fill that 'missing middle' by cultivating export-oriented activities in both manufacturing and services, and harnessing the transformative potential of trade; it faces an historic opportunity to do so with the Africa Free Trade Continental Area (AfCFTA)," he said.
Turning his focus on the report, Mr Larporte said it highlighted four main pillars for accelerating economic transformation and improving jobs outcomes.
First, he said, was job creation, indicating that Ghana would need to drive sectorial transformation through the movement of workers into higher productivity firms and sectors and spatial transformation through trade, urbanization, and connectivity.
"Global innovator services, in particular ICT and business services, could play a critical role" he said.
Mr Laporte observed that to deliver productivity growth and boost innovation and entrepreneurship, the country would need to drive technological transformation through the adoption of digital and complementary technologies in domestic firms, saying, "To enable this change, it will be key to improve internet connectivity, invest in foundational skills, advanced digital skills, and facilitate technology adoption for firms."
He said to support more inclusive private sector development, Ghana would need to leverage the financial sector to facilitate firm expansion, technology adoption and innovation.
"To enable long-term inclusive growth, Ghana will need to double down on macro-fiscal stability, natural resources management and revenue mobilisation (to generate the revenues to fund reforms for economic transformation). Environmental taxation can boost revenues while helping to minimise the impact of climate change on households and incentivise sustainable land-use," he said.
The Minister of Finance, Ken Ofori-Atta, for his part, said theme of the CEM resonated with government's priority to create jobs for the youth and to create an entrepreneurial state as part of the post-COVID revitalisation of the economy.
He said it was estimated that about 10 million jobs would have to be created between now and 2040 to absorb the labour force.
Highlighting on the report, David Elmaleh, World Bank Senior Economist, and co-author of the report, said, "This report lays out three scenarios for an accelerated economic transformation for better jobs."
He said "Without reforms, in a 'business as usual' scenario, Ghana's economy is currently projected to reach upper middle-income status by 2037, while under a 'bright horizons' scenario, which includes the adoption of some key reforms to drive economic transformation, Ghana's economy could reach upper-middle-income status by 2032. However, under a 'pitfalls' scenario, Ghana would have to wait until 2040. The greatest impact on GDP would be from reforms to raise the productivity of export-oriented global innovator services and manufacturing. This can start now, under the new budget."