Five good reasons why Ghanaians should have a say in the UK elections
1. Ghana is one of Africa’s strongest democracies. However, decisions made outside the country continue to have a direct effect on Ghana’s economy and poverty levels. The UK is the fourth largest shareholder in the World Bank. Aid agencies state that trade liberalisation, pushed through by the IMF and World Bank, has cost sub-Saharan Africa US$272 billion over the past 20 years; had they not been forced to liberalise as the price of aid, loans and debt relief, sub-Saharan African countries would have had enough extra income to wipe out their debts and have sufficient left over to pay for every child to be vaccinated and go to school .
2. Trade liberalisation measures are recommended (and enforced) by the World Bank and IMF as supposedly beneficial to developing economies. Interestingly, countries that are now massively in deficit such as the UK and USA are protecting rather than opening up their economies. Shouldn’t Ghanaians get to have an equal say over how their own country is run?
3. One instance of how IMF and World Bank trade liberalisation is causing poverty in Ghana is the ongoing problem of subsidised chickens being imported from the EU and wiping out the local poultry industry. This phenomenon is known as ‘dumping’. Developed countries -- such as the UK and the US -- will take excess product, whose production has been heavily subsidized and sell it to the developing world at prices that are so low, they ruin local markets.
4. The British aid budget has been used to support reforms in Ghana that were not necessarily open, transparent or given democratic legitimacy. One example is the case of Britain using its aid budget to pursue privatization through funding UK-based ‘water privatization consultants’ . A May 2002 memorandum presented to the Government of Ghana by the country's National Coalition Against Privatization (NCAP) stated that: "The framework is largely imposed by external interests in a non-transparent process that has deliberately avoided public scrutiny and democratic debate" . Allowing Ghanaian voices into the UK general election will allow those concerned to ask questions of the policy makers that have directly affected them.
5. British mining company Anglo American is profiting from a pattern of global abuse and brutality against poor people, including the murder of opponents who say the firm's mining operations threaten their livelihoods . In Ghana, local communities see little of the huge profits being made, but suffer from fear and intimidation and from the damaging impact of its mines on their environment, health and livelihoods. If Ghanaians had a say in UK elections, they could call directly upon the UK government to prevent companies such as Anglo American from fuelling conflict situations and human rights abuses.