Ghanaians Demonstrate Against Rising Unemployment and Costs
(Bloomberg) -- Ghanaians kicked off a series of planned protests aimed at pressuring President Nana Akufo-Addo’s administration to do more to create jobs for the youth, improve health-care and education standards, and bring down living costs.
The demonstrations are being organized under the social media banner #FixTheCountry and were joined by thousands of people wearing masks and carrying placards, who marched in the streets of Accra, the capital, on Wednesday, a public holiday in the West African nation.
Akufo-Addo, 77, who won a tight re-election in December, faces the task of shoring up state finances that came under pressure after the government settled debts to power producers and cleaned up the banking industry, and were further battered by the Covid-19 pandemic. The nation’s ratio of debt to gross domestic product surged to 77% by the end of June, and the 2020 budget deficit reached 11.7%, more than double the legal cap.
A World Bank report last year found that Ghana was faced with 12% youth unemployment and more than 50% underemployment, higher than sub-Saharan African averages. That’s likely contributed to socio-economic tensions in the continent’s top gold producer, laid bare last month when authorities cracked down on protesters in the central town of Ejura, triggering an official inquiry.
The police initially secured an injunction to block the latest demonstration, initially scheduled for May 9, citing concerns over the potential about the observance of Covid-19 safety protocols. The ban was lifted after organizers challenged the decision in court and reached an agreement with authorities on precautions.
“Both sides’ ability to adhere to their pledges is an important matter for the risk outlook,” Kobi Annan, an analyst at the London- and Accra-based Songhai Advisory said in a note Wednesday.
The protest was peaceful, with no major incident reported by the end of the day.
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