The Limits of Self-Reliance

Being President of an African nation isn't easy. Fifteen months ago, my government was freely elected to office. No honeymoon period greeted us. Instead, we faced a catastrophic economic situation: runaway inflation, unsustainably high interest rates, a collapsed currency, and a general loss of confidence.

Under the circumstances, my government took hard decisions and took them quickly. We committed ourselves to spending only what we have or can reasonably expect to have. We proceeded with caution and pragmatism in the management of the exchange rate of our currency and our monetary affairs, leading to a measure of stability.

I can claim credit for modest successes, but Ghana needs more than modest successes. Ghana was the first sub-Saharan nation to win its independence from a colonial power, in 1957. Yet the average per capita income of my people is lower now than in the 1960s, a decade after independence. Many of our families subsist on less than one dollar a day. Our galloping rate of population growth overwhelms our schools and hospitals. Endemic diseases threaten us all, but especially our children.

Some of the blame for this we Ghanaians must accept. My country must acknowledge that corruption has been a canker on our public and economic life and must be contained. Corruption distorts the truth and saps the confidence and enthusiasm of Ghana's friends. We know that the fight against corruption is no easy battle, but we have joined that battle and will do our best to minimize corruption as much as possible.