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African integration: Ghana's contribution through democracy and good governance
Abstract.The subject of this research is the integration of Africa and Ghana’s contribution in its achievement. The object is Ghana’s impact upon African integration. The author examines such aspects as the goals of international organization of African Union and an efficient role played by Ghana in realization of the set by the Union goal of integration throughout certain period of time. Special attention is given to the practice of democracy in Ghana, legacy of the effective management characterized by the peaceful interparty transition and good leaders that hold the positions encouraging the promotion of Pan-African course as a result of their conscientious activity. The article considers the theoretical models of African integration and Pan-Africanism, which were explored by some authors, as well as applies the interpretation method for analyzing the utterings of political leaders, protocols of organizational summits and events on the continent, and particularly in the country which contribution is viewed in this research. The main conclusion lies in the fact that Ghana’s contribution into African integration and future of the continents cannot be underestimated. Moreover, despite the country’s experience in the area of military takeovers until 1992, it has established the strong political leadership and effective management that deserve attention. The author’s special contribution is defined by the practical and factual data that confirm Ghana’s position in Pan-Africanism, which can be relevant for the future African leaders and students of political science and international relations. The scientific novelty lie in consistency of specific events in Ghana, commitment of the country and its vision of the key factors of integration and development of the continent as a whole.
Keywords: Governance, Pan-Africanism, Democracy, Regional integration, Integration, Ghana, African Union, Africa, Organization of African Union, Development
Article was received:10-05-2018
The concept of the Organization of African Union (OAU) was reviewed at summits in Lome in 2000 and Lusaka in 2001, when African Heads of State and Government unveiled the new continental union (AU) in 2002. AU represents Africa’s collective efforts in search of formal integration and development. Series of developmental strategies in the early days of independence, aimed at liberating the Continent from imperialism failed to yield any positive results. While this is largely blamed on autocratic regimes,scholars such asPaul G. Adogamhe (2008) contends that, “the difficulties African leaders have had in promoting Pan-Africanism have been due to lack of clear ideological definition of the concept as well as their inability to discern it as a viable ideological blueprint for continental unity and development”. Key elements of integration such as good governance, open borders, security and trade are essential for the African integration process. Hence, African leaders of today aim at integrating the continent with ideals of Pan-Africanism, and sustenance of one territorial jurisdiction through a shared strategic framework for inclusive growth and sustainable development. Rene N’Guettia Kouassi however argues that, “only the virtues of integration, in economic and political terms, offer the assets necessary to take up the challenges of globalization and to obtain credible capacity of negotiation in international debates” [Kouassi, 2007].
Another important factor of this integration is democracy - thus, political instability, or lack of stable government has impacted negatively on the African integration process. Unlike the early days of independence, where ruling elites were less willing to hand over power to others and democracy was rarely identified, various member states in recent decades have exercised some level of democratic governance in various ways. The 2016 Mo Ibrahim Index indicated “70 percent of Africa's population lives in countries that have shown improvement in overall governance over the last ten years”. Thus, with each passing decade, the number of democratically elected leaders in Africa increases.
Generational changes could also inform this development. The continent has witnessed some young Africans taking charge as heads of states in recent years. Andry Rajoelina of Madagascar for instance, assumed office at the age of 34 in 2009. Faure Gnassingbe of Togo, age39 in 2005. John Mahama of Ghana, age 54 in 2012, amongs others. This demonstrates Africa’s readiness and willingness to take charge of its economic and political destiny by exercising full autonomy over the choice of initiatives for its development. This study focuses on the integration of the African Union, using Ghana as a point of reference. It seeks to highlight areas in literature, concerning various initiatives taken so far by Ghana in accelerating the integration process, with a glare at democracy and good governance; the difference Ghana makes to the lives of Africans since the inception of democratic governance in 1992.
Ghana`s position at the African Union.
Dr. Nkrumah envisioned political unification of the entire African continent and equally inspired other leaders towards the impulse of this movement; “for Nkrumah, the ideology of Pan-Africanism became a revolutionary movement for the unification and total liberation of the African continent” [Adogamhe, 2008]. This again explains why Ghana is a particularly relevant place to discuss Africa’s future. Part of Ghana`s constitution devotes attention to treaty obligations, and “adhere to the principles enshrined in and ideals of the AU Charter”. The above mentioned, hence defines the policy and ideology of Pan-Africanism. Unlike a bigger country such as Nigeria; Ghana (due to its size and limited resources) strategically adheres to this policy, to have its voice heard on the continent.
The ultimate objective of Pan-Africanism was to install a United States of Africa. Paul G. Adogamhe argues that, “if that happens, it will automatically transform the way African societies are integrated into the world economic system” [Adogamhe, 2008]. Although the prime agenda failed to manifest in the early stage, modern understanding of the movement aims at political unification of member states, and accelerating economic development of the continent - hence, Ghana’s commitment and active participation and contribution in the organization.
The difference Ghana makes in the AU integration process.
Since the onset of democracy in 1992, Ghana’s practice of good governance and stability have added credibility to its leadership, where it occupies a leading position in the continent, and gains recognitions in the eyes of the international community. Electorates use their franchise to demand performance from the government, where an independent legislature and judiciary, and a vibrant civil society are installed. The various initiatives Ghana has taken in promoting good governance and democracy at the union include the days of President Jerry Rawlings (1992-2000) who actively contributed to conflict resolutions and political stabilities in countries such as Rwanda, Sierra Leone and Liberia. In October 2010, the African Union appointed Mr. Rawlings as the High Representative of Somalia to “mobilize the continent and the rest of the international community to fully assume its responsibilities and contribute more actively to the quest for peace, security and reconciliation in Somalia.” President Rawlings was again appointed Ambassador of the Pan-African Parliament in October 2011. This credence has become a routine on Ghanaian leaders. Since 1992, all Ghanaian heads - John Kufour (2007-1008), John Mahama (2014-2015) have been elected by other African leaders to spearhead the Union’s affairs, with exception of President John Mills, who died in office in 2012.
Ghana upholds its place in vibrant supports of the continent’s integration, which is a key tenet towards the realization of Agenda 2063 – “The Africa We Want”. This initiative is forecasted by all 54 member states that aim at achieving “A Shared Strategic Framework for Inclusive Growth and Sustainable Development” by 2063. The first ten-year implementation plan (2014-2023) of Agenda 2063 envisage the following:
1. A peaceful and secure Africa.
2. A prosperous Africa based on inclusive growth and sustainable development.
3. An integrated continent politically united and based on the ideals of Pan Africanism and vision of Africa’s Renaissance.
4. An Africa of good governance, democracy, respect for human rights, justice and the rule of law.
5. Africa with a strong cultural identity, common heritage, values and ethics.
6. An Africa whose development is people driven, relying on the potential of the African People, particularly it’s Women and Youth and caring for children.
7. Africa as a strong, united, resilient and influential global partner and player
To achieve these goals, Ghana, in July 2016 made the first approach by introducing “visa on arrival policy” for citizens of all AU Member States. This highlights the importance of facilitating the mobility of people and stimulates air travel, trade, investment and tourism, to unlock Africa’s economic potentials. Dr. Dlamini Zuma (The AU Commission Chairperson) commends that, “After Ghana, I am convinced that many other African countries will follow suit in the interest of achieving an integrated, prosperous and peaceful Africa”. This reaffirms Ghana`s position in the modern understanding of Pan-Africanism which is essential to the Union integration process. President John Kuffuor of Ghana (2000-2008) in 2005 states; "when nations join with others in a trade or political bloc, they give up a portion of their national sovereignty. What people need to understand is that the solutions to the problems that affects them as individuals or as groups today can no longer be found just at the national level. We should also endeavor to have common democratic values so that our citizens would know what to expect wherever in Africa they find themselves,” and adds that “regional peace and security are essential for integration. Without them, our energies are wasted” [Kufour, 2005]. This again demonstrates how keen Ghana has been in promoting the core principles of integration on the continent.
Ghana’s 1992 election which was guided by a new constitution (the 1992 constitution), the 1996 peaceful election, the peaceful transition of powers from one party to another in 2001, 2009 and 2017 attest to these improved aspects of democracy on the continent. Thus to say, undemocratic initiations necessarily came to an abrupt end in terms of regime changes. Donald Teitelbaum (former United States ambassador to Ghana) acknowledges the country as “the most developed democracy on the African continent”. “Of course, increasing numbers of other African countries have free and fair democratic elections. What sets Ghana apart is not the existence of free and fair elections, but peaceful interparty transitions” [Teitelbaum, 2009]. Barack Obama on his visit to Ghana in 2009 adds that, “Here in Ghana, you show us a face of Africa that is too often overlooked by a world that sees only tragedy or the need for charity. The people of Ghana have worked hard to put democracy on a firmer footing, with peaceful transfer of power even in the wake of closely contested elections. And with improved governance and an emerging civil society, Ghana’s economy has shown impressive rates of growth. Ghanaians have chosen Constitutional rule over autocracy, and shown a democratic spirit that allows the energy of your people to break through” [Obama, 2009]. While these attributes highlight Ghana’s contribution to the AU integration process, it also reaffirms grounds for good bilateral relations between Ghana and world elites. These credentials have resulted into the many visits world leaders pay to Ghana. Notable ones in 2016 alone included the French Prime Minister Manuel Valls, President Shri Pranab Mukherjee of India, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey, among others.
In consequence, Ghana’s current position is to remain a committed member and to adhere to the principles and charter obligations of the Union on an equal footing. Many African countries including Ghana have been working in recent years to further improve the continents democratic credentials and economic prospects. President John Mahama of Ghana (2012-2017) further explains that, "Ghana continues to lead this effort and is impacting our sub-region and the continent. This in itself is ensuring a powerful and positive impact on the wellbeing of millions and millions of people”. This goes down to explain the country’s position, the difference it makes in the lives of Africans, and the readiness to lead the continent through to the much needed process of reform that will enhance Africa’s yield as an equal partner in the world.
The above discussed, notwithstanding, exhibits how democracy and good governance has helped Ghana recoup its image on the continental stage. The country was plunged into series of coups and military rules which lasted until the fourth republic in 1992. Things are far from perfect, but Ghana has established itself with some key leadership qualities such as, political system that minimizes the divisive effects of ethnic politics, a strong political leadership, democratic governance, and adherence to the African Union Charter which reflect the political and socio-economic programme of the continent. One is therefore challenged to see why Ghana is a predominantly relevant place to discuss Africa’s future, and how these concrete events cohere and advance the author’s argument as well as lend assertions and evidence to how the country’s commitment, vision and dedication have earned it a well-deserved place in the community of nations. Ghana indeed, is a committed member and a key factor in the continent’s process of integration and development.
 Paul G. Adogamhe “Pan-Africanism Revisited: Vision and Reality of African Unity and Development” African Review of Integration Vol.2 No.2, July 2008.
 Rene N’Guettia Kouassi “The Itinerary of the African Integration Process: An Overview of the Historical Landmarks” African Integration Review Volume 1, No. 2, July 2007
 The Mo Ibrahim Index, 2016.
 Constitution of the Republic of Ghana: The Directive Principles of State Policy. Chapter 6, Article 40.
 Legacies of Rawlings: DOI: http://www.presidentrawlings.com/pgs/profile.php (accessed 01/09/2010)
 The African Union Commission. AGENDA 2063 “A Shared Strategic Framework for Inclusive Growth and Sustainable Development” FIRST TEN-YEAR IMPLEMENTATION PLAN 2014 – 2023, September 2015.
 Dr. Dlamini Zuma, welcomed Ghana’s decision to introduce a visa-on-arrival policy for citizens of African Union Member States. African Press Organization: ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia, March 7, 2016/APO
 President John Kufour of Ghana: Address at African Union Summit, Abuja. November 13 2005 Lohor. This Day News Online, November 13, 2005:1-2.
 Donald Teitelbaum “What's So Special About Ghana” Journal Article. Ambassadors Review Council of American Ambassadors, Fall 2009.
 President Obama’s remarks to the Ghanaian Parliament during his visit to Ghana; The White House, July 11 2009.
 President Mahama`s speech at the 53rd African Union day, May 25 2016.