In 1957, Ghana’s dependence on Britain: its colonial administration, was overturned by Nkrumah and the CPP. Outrightly, this new found independence and Nkrumah’s message on self preservation of the continent by Africans, became an emblem of hope for the collective freedom fight from its colonial masters.
This continental union steadily removed European imperialists from the lands of Africa, in order to run its own political and economic affairs; or so it was perceived. Surprisingly, Africa’s cry for self-governance was short-lived, following her adoption and implementation of western forms of governance right after independence. Likewise, the strengthening of her international trade relations with the west, indicated how Africa still “lives in the shadows” of its colonial masters.
This then begs the question of, Has Africa truly gained her sovereignty from colonial powers or did she only gain what is deemed a “flag independence”? The importance of these questions arise mainly because of the visible activities European imperialists play into, in the various African economies and in trade regulations, just as Nkrumah predicted in. the rise of new-age imperialism.
In his book, Neo-colonialism: the Last stage of imperialism (1965), Nkrumah laments about the economic exploitation of Africa by western powers
“Africa is a paradox which illustrates and highlights neo-colonialism. Her earth is rich, yet the products that come from above and below the soil continue to enrich, not Africans predominantly, but groups and individuals who operate to Africa’s impoverishment”
During the independence of Ghana, a time which marked its political and economic freedom from Britain, 65 years on; has failed to improve its economy and the status of a large percentage of the Ghanaian population. The nature of the economy despite its high mineral and agricultural wealth remains unchanging mainly from the intrusions of European “donor countries” and corruption amongst its governing bodies.
According to the international trade administration (2020) – the two leading nations identified as Ghana’s import partners are China (45.5 percent total imports) and the United States (12.9 percent total imports). As much as having foreign trade relations may not be problematic, the over-reliance on western commodities, aid and investments, under the guise of globalization stagnates an economy and places the economic regulatory policies in the hands of said developed countries.
Meanwhile, the citizens of Ghana face high levels of: inflation, tax and tariffs, unemployment and poverty. This new-age imperialism through trade, in the case of Ghana, diminishes the potential rise of the Ghanaian market while rewarding its foreign counterparts with large market space, revenue generation and economic control instead of heavily capitalizing on the African Continental Free Trade for her trade imports and exports.
“The struggle against neo-colonialism is not aimed at excluding the capital of the developed world from operating in less developed countries. It is aimed at preventing the financial power of the developed countries being used in such a way as to impoverish the less developed”
Outside of trade relations, the nature of European control over the economic politics in Ghana is through foreign aid. The dynamic of providing monetary help and other social incentives to developing countries are mostly based on conditionalities that affect the growth of the recipient country. For instance, a donor country pursuing infrastructural development projects in a country requires the beneficiary to promote friendly economic regulations and some political leverages to suit them.
In 2019, at the African Caucus meeting with IMF and World bank representatives in Accra, the president of Ghana, Nana Akuffo Addo gave his speech on Africa Beyond Aid. According to the Ghanaian president, “Africans live in poverty in the midst of plenty; we remain poor despite our rich endowment of natural resources. Africa is also becoming an important player in the world production of coal, oil and gas. Yet, most of these resources are exported in their raw form. And, even for that, Africa does not derive its fair share of the value of these resources.”
His speech, however, had contradictory statements on how Africa can progress. According to Nana Akuffo Addo, the journey to recovery for the various African countries comes with the support from its foreign partners, Bretton Woods, defeating the entirety of the changes Africa needs in economic sovereignty. Under his governance also, the IMF has made known the 1billion USD funds Ghana has received post covid to recover its economy. Despite all this monetary assistance and economic wealth the nation possesses, the unemployment rate under his governance is at an extreme high (13.4 percent) and status as a rising economy continues to dwindle, as described by many Ghanaians.
For Ghana and Africa to gain its economic sovereignty and beyond aid, Nkrumah proposes a strong African Union to compel European withdrawal from its economy.
“When Africa becomes economically free and politically united, the monopolists will come face to face with their own working class in their own countries, and a new struggle will arise within which the liquidation and collapse of imperialism will be complete”