Ghana President Nana Akufo-Addo won re-election, securing another four-year mandate to lead Africa’s biggest gold producer.
Akufo-Addo got 6.73 million votes, or 51.6% of valid ballots, while his closest rival John Mahama, of the main opposition National Democratic Congress, got 47.4%, the head of the country’s electoral commission, Jean Mensa, told journalists Wednesday in the capital, Accra. The front-runners were separated by just over 500,000 votes.
“My immediate task will be to begin the process of reversing the effect Covid-19 has had on our economy and on our lives,” Akufo-Addo said in a speech from his home in Accra. “Before the pandemic struck, Ghana in recent years was one of the fastest-growing economies in the world and, I give you my word, we will bring back that reputation.”
Akufo-Addo’s New Patriotic Party campaigned on the need to consolidate the achievements of his first term, including free senior-secondary school education, an industrialization drive and the bolstering of farmers’ incomes in world’s second-largest cocoa producer. The ease with which he will push through policies will depend on parliamentary election results, which were still being counted Wednesday.
“The Ghanaian people have made it loud and clear that the two parties, NPP and NDC, must work together especially in parliament for the good of the country,” he said in the speech broadcast live by Accra-based radio Joy FM.
The 76-year-old incumbent had a solid economic record prior to the advent of the coronavirus. In a country where gold and cocoa production have dominated exports for decades, output from new oil fields pushed economic growth above 6% for each of the past three years. Inflation slowed to less than 10% for the first time in six years in 2018, and remained below that level until April this year. The cedi has had its most stable spell in more than a decade.
Investors are expecting Akufo-Addo to sort out an economy wreaked by the havoc of the Covid-19 pandemic, which has driven Ghana’s ratio of debt to gross domestic product to 71% in September, the highest in four years. Before the global health crisis, the West African economy was already under fiscal pressure due to the costs of cleaning up the banking sector and energy-sector liabilities.
Akufo-Addo’s NPP has said it will cut the budget deficit to 8.3% of GDP in 2021, from a shortfall forecast to reach 11.4% for 2020. The government, which was forced to abandon a fiscal rule it introduced in 2018 to cap the deficit at 5% of GDP, has said it will drop below the cap by the third year of the new presidential term.99