February 04, 2019 Public Contract Law Journal

Preparing Today for Prosperity Tomorrow: Using Sustainable Public Procurement as a Tool for Development in Ghana

by Akosua Nyantakyi

Akosua (Abby) Nyantakyi (anyantakyi@law.gwu.edu) is a third-year law student at The George Washington University Law School and alumna of Loyola Marymount University. She would like to thank Professors Sonia Tabriz and Jayna Rust, Cynthia A. Amoah, Jacqueline Adjei, and Mills E. Duodu for their support throughout this process. Most importantly, she would like to thank her parents, Kusi and Gifty Akuoko, for their love and unwavering support and Justice Annan for his inspiration and encouragement.

On 6 March, 1957, with the African sun beaming on their glistening black bodies, the Gold Coast took back her destiny from the colonizer and clothed herself with the spirit of her royal ancestors. Ghana, she was to be called; the descendants of one of the most powerful kingdoms to rule the cradle of humanity. With the gold of her mineral wealth nestled between the red of the blood of her liberators, and the green of her luscious forests, accented with the black star of African emancipation, Ghana was finally liberated.

I.  Introduction

After gaining independence, the leaders of the newly liberated Republic of Ghana reached back to lead the fight for the emancipation of other African nations.1 Since then, Ghana has been recognized as a leader of change and innovation on the continent of Africa.2 Even so, Ghana has been, and remains, a relatively impoverished nation.3 In fact, until very recently, Ghana experienced comparably much slower economic development than countries that gained independence contemporaneously.4 For example, before each gaining independence in 1957, Ghana and Malaysia both were economically poor countries;5 however, until recently, Malaysia’s economy grew much faster than Ghana’s.6

Throughout the years, many strategies have been both contemplated and implemented to address the misfortune of slow economic growth within Ghana.7 One such strategy is promoting development through public procurement.8 Using public procurement to promote development is especially beneficial to lower-income countries because of the large amounts their governments spend towards it.9 With the implementation of such strategies, Ghana is now on pace to win recognition as one of the world’s fastest growing economies in 2018.10 However, while Ghana is finally emerging from this economic stagnation, experts have warned of new economic concerns including the resurgence of the resource curse.11 This is due to the fact that a large part of Ghana’s new economic success derives from its recently discovered oil fields.12 Further concerning, although Ghana’s economy is growing rapidly, there has been an increase in the unemployment rate.13

Although Ghana’s economy has grown due to the discovery of oil, traditional growth industries such as finance and healthcare have lagged behind.14 Since oil is a volatile commodity, it is important that Ghana continually foster these traditional growth industries to avoid economic boom and bust cycles.15 Thus, Ghana must prove it can convert its new economic growth now based mostly on its oil boom into “high quality jobs and sustainable growth.”16 One such strategy Ghana has considered is sustainable public procurement.17

Sustainable public procurement is a type of public procurement where governments seek to fulfill their needs for goods and services in a way that considers the whole life cost of the procurement, generates benefits to society and the economy, and minimizes damage to the environment.18 This method differs from traditional public procurement because sustainable public procurement specifically promotes sustainable development.19

With Ghana’s current economic surge inextricably tied to the volatile oil industry, it is important that Ghana revisit and streamline the use of sustainable public procurement if the new growth is to be maintained. Since the problems existing within the Ghanaian context are very similar to those faced by many nations in both Africa and Asia,20 studying how Ghana can incorporate sustainable public procurement objectives in fostering sustainable development is especially relevant.

This Note will illustrate how incorporating a streamlined focus on sustainable procurement objectives into Ghana’s public procurement system could promote sustainable development. Following the introduction in Section I, Section II gives an overview of public procurement methods, comparing traditional public procurement with sustainable procurement methods. Section III provides an overview of Ghana’s current public procurement system and current sustainable public procurement efforts focusing on the Swiss-Ghana Public Project. Section III then presents the main drawbacks and obstacles to the implementation of sustainable public procurement in Ghana. Finally, Section IV presents a recommendation on how Ghana can streamline its sustainable public procurement initiatives to promote sustainable development by (1) streamlining its current sustainable procurement initiatives into clear and specific objectives and requirements in its Public Procurement Act (PPA); (2) implementing comprehensive training programs for procurement officials; and (3) engaging in a comprehensive campaign to educate the public on the benefits and goals of their sustainable public procurement initiatives.

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