Ghana is the first country in Sub-Saharan Africa to gain independence from colonial rule in 1957. The country has received wide praise over the years not only in Africa but also in the African diaspora.
Great African-American freedom fighters such as Martin Luther King Jr and Malcolm X visited Ghana to celebrate with the nation. Ghana’s independence from British rule became the beacon of hope and the future that other African nations would look upon to set themselves free from the chains of colonialism.
The cost of independence celebration
Each year on March 6, Ghana commemorates the day with an event that involves a parade, a showcase of military might, marching by school children, the lighting of the independence flame, among others. It is without a doubt that for this event to take hold, a huge financial expense would be needed.
On March 6, 2007, Ghana celebrated 50 years of independence from British colonial rule. The celebrations began at midnight with a re-enactment of the day in 1957 when the British flag was lowered and the Ghanaian flag was raised. Over 20 Heads of State attended the celebrations with various performances both locally and internationally.
Ghana’s Independence day celebrations- The cost
The Ghana @50 celebration as it was called, cost the Ghanaian government $20m (£10.4m; 15.2m euros). A cross-section of Ghanaians was not pleased with the celebration and the amount spent. Instead of spending such a huge amount of taxpayers’ money on an event, the cross-section of Ghanaians felt it was a time for the country to reflect on its achievements and failed accomplishments. Many communities in the country are faced with acute water shortages, poor school structures, and hospital facilities, high youth unemployment rate among others. The money spent on such a celebration at such a time could have been geared towards solving some of such crucial issues.
Ghana @59 witnessed an expenditure of Gh¢4 million while Ghana @ 60 recorded an expenditure of Gh¢20 million. Mr. Lord Commey, a member of the Ghana@60 planning committee, explained that the GH¢20m allocated to the Independence Day celebration by the Akufo Addo government was for activities spanning the whole year and not for a one-off event.
In an unconfirmed report, Ghana @62 was reported to have a budget of US$3 million equivalent to Gh¢16.5 million earmarked for the celebration. Some items in the budget included:
10,000 pieces of umbrellas budgeted at Gh¢1,160,000.00. Thus each umbrella cost Gh¢116.00.
Refreshment for 20,000 spectators budgeted at Gh¢2,000,000.00 hence each refreshment costing Gh¢ 100.00.
Transportation for chiefs and clerics (Islamic and Christian) budgeted at Gh¢1,200,000.00.
Hotel accommodation for government officials budgeted at Gh¢1,500,000.00.
‘Party Security’ budgeted at Gh¢115,000.00
Due to health and safety protocols as a result of the COVID pandemic this year’s celebration was devoid of the military and school parade. Also, the celebration which is usually held at Independence Square was held at the Jubilee House per the directives of the Office of the President.
The event, which lasted for just about an hour saw Akufo Addo give a speech on revitalizing the economy and lighting the Independence flame.
“Ghana is taking steps to revitalize the economy. A process that is hinged on the GHS 1 billion Ghana Cares Obatanpa programme. This is aimed at transforming our economy, which is our main national priority,” Akufo Addo said in his speech.
“The benefits of this economic recovery agenda will begin to show a year from now. A year from now, our quest to move Ghana to a situation beyond aid will be accelerated, and our self-reliance enhanced. A year from today, Ghana will become one of the fastest-growing economies not only in the continent but the world at large,” he further added.