According to http://www.tradingeconomics.com (TE) the Gross World Product (GWP) currently stands at $78.28 trillion – where Ghana’s contribution, in terms of GDP is about 0.08% ($47.33 billion) as at last year, 2017. Again, TE projected, and where the World Bank (WB) published (World Bank, 2017) that the total number of persons in the world is about 7.6 billion of which Ghana’s offering is approximately 0.39%. The seemingly “irreconcilable” deduction is how Ghana contributes more, in terms of population growth than the GDP (Gross Domestic Product) to the world’s economy. Ghana’s population is increasing (at an average of 2.45% between 2006 and 2016) as opposed to an undulating GDP growth pattern. Obviously, the figures justify why an African nation – Ghana, cannot live beyond aide. Little do we have to offer the world of economics.
This article was triggered by a scene of an under 25-year-old lady carrying a baby at her back. Two kids followed her – trailing behind as they walked on the streets of Tema presumably to work. Actions of the lady suggested that they’re all her kids. I watched with shame and dismay, the cry on the face of one of the children walking with her, trying to pull out some rice in the rubber held in his mouth – very dirty looking, I must say. I asked myself: why on earth would such a young lady produce by now, three children, and how many more should she be attaining the age of say 30/35 years? There are many more of this lady in most parts of rural Ghana and sure, predominant also in the Ashanti and Greater Accra Region which are the top two most populous cities in the Republic of Ghana. This is what we’re talking about – Ghana’s population growth. And uncontrolled population alongside a weak economy will be detrimental to Ghana’s economic growth.
In the year, 2013; as I recall, in an Economics class (SHS), our tutor asked this question: “How many children do you want to produce when you grow up?”. There were variant answers with a standard deviation of more than one (1) – simply put, very unsimilar views and answers from respondents to this question. There was no clear or obvious number of kids one would want to have in future. But my answer was 2 children maximum. I found it, even till now, very intriguing why the “elite class” will not support the argument that Ghanaian parents should give birth to a maximum of three number children. I fully endorse the proposal of Dr. Leticia Adelaide Appiah – Executive Director of the National Population Council, that, child birth should be capped at three (3) number in Ghana.
Here is a brief Chinese history. In the year 1979/80, China was enforcing a One-Child policy as part of its Family Planning Policy. This was strictly implemented and enforced by the Provincial Government (in Ghana, government at the regional level). The Chinese government at the time, ensured that funds were made available for an effective and massive awareness campaign across the country. Literature shows that it was a very successful policy, which thrived prior to an amendment of same in 2015. The Chinese government produced a report; submitted to the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress, stating a 400 million child birth prevented a decade before the One-Child policy implementation, in the report. This took place before the October 2015 amendments.
In January 1, 2016, China effectively commenced the adherence to a Two-Child Policy, again as part of the Family Planning Policy. Don’t forget, it’s an amendment to the preceding One-Child Policy. The new law was a bit liberal and had some exceptions, juxtaposed to the previous law. This was to allow for a second child should the first be a daughter and also, allow for a second child by single parents. China’s population growth prior to the era (1979) of the One-Child Policy was about 2.0%, whereas Ghana’s at the same time was around 2.6% (Population Data Analysis Reports, August 2015 – Socio-Economic and Demographic Trends Analysis, Volume 1). With my petite knowledge in Economics and Statistics; given a prevented/population of 400 million for China, when the actual population and average rate of growth of Chinese and Ghana (around 1969) were 694,581,759 & 2.0% and 8,559,000 & 2.6% respectively; Ghana would have had a proportional reduction/prevention in population growth of about 197,858 should we have emulated the second world’s largest economy and currently the fastest economic growth rate nation – China. Today, figures from the TE and publications by the World Bank show that Ghana is contributing more to population growth numbers and comparatively lesser to the Gross World Product. How would the dexterous masters and experts of Ghanaian economics interpret this to us? There’s is an inverse relationship between these two parameters – GDP growth and Population Growth. China and other countries have their population and GDP contribution to the World Economy, proportionally related. Can we then adduce to the effect that “Ghana’s economic fundamentals are weak” and that increasing population in our dear nation rather than normal, proves inimical to our economic freedom and independence?
The repercussions of increasing population and weak economic fundamentals for a nation like Ghana are a common knowledge which need not to be re-echoed. Howbeit, the two most dreadful effects of unmanaged population growth are unemployment and pressure on public infrastructure, especially when there’s so much deficit in terms of housing units, hospitals bed spaces, school facilities, etcetera, etcetera. Currently, unemployment rate in Ghana as at 2017 is 2.4%; an increase from 2.3 in 2016. Are we going to see a reduction in this rate in the face of increasing population growth and more demand for jobs as university graduates continue to flood and cry about employment, employment?
Ghana, through the Central Government must address this issue of increasing population, lest unemployment rates continue to escalate annually. Limiting number of child birth to 3 maximum should be put into law to curb population growth. China did this in January 2016 and they’re reaping the economic benefits of controlled population even till date. I therefore will like to propose that Ghana enacts a law to become a National Family Planning Policy. Maximum number of allowable child birth should be 3, as suggested by Dr. Leticia Adelaide Appiah of the National Population Council (NPC). Why can’t we mimic what the Chinese and other Western Countries who strife always to control their population growth, when we turn to this same powers for loans and grants to put up infrastructure in our dear nation?
Furthermore, a second look at of some laws concerning marriage in Ghana must be done. Thus: The Customary Marriage and Divorce Registration Law, 1985 (PNDC LAW 112) amended by PNDCL 263. This law permits polygamous marriage. There must be a caveat to the effect that, inasmuch as a man is allowed to marry more than one woman, the maximum number of children should be three. Secondly, The Marriage Ordinance 1884 (Cap 127) – although this disallows polygamy, there should be a limit to child birth also. Thirdly, our Muslim brothers and sisters should consent to the amendment of the Marriage of Mohammed’s Ordinance 1884 (Cap 129) where a maximum number of 4 wives is allowed for Muslim men. Certainly, this will contribute significantly to the number of children parents would have! While Muslims see polygamy as a religious arrangement, we must think economically and what will be in the best interest of the nation – don’t give birth beyond three children. And to the Christians who also have insatiable desire for wives and children, you should be guided by the economics of population growth and unemployment.
Before I conclude this piece, I want to admonish the incumbent government to be bold enough to initiate a dialogue around measures to control Ghana’s population growth and improve the State owned Health Facilities to be in a good position to address issues of family planning and interim measures to speak to our mothers to limit the child birth. Again, the media should also emphasize and begin a massive campaign on the need to manage Ghana’s population growth. Therefore, whilst it may be political suicidal but an enormous and great economic benefit to Ghana as a nation, I want the urge government of Ghana to consider fusing “SHOULD GHANA CAP CHILD BIRTH TO THREE NUMBER?”, and other relevant questions, with the upcoming Gh¢932 million national referendum. This I believe, are the real concerns Ghana should be tackling. Hefty fines should be placed on defaulting parents and must be deterrent enough. Today, there’s no denying the fact that government’s most popular social intervention policy – the Free Senior High School Policy, is facing serious challenges, compelling an impromptu implementation of the Double Track system, as a result of increase in enrolment stemming from increasing rate of population.
Finally, it will be very primitive to suggest that polygamous marriage will be advantageous to rural folks, vis-à-vis producing more children to serve as farm helps! The world is leaving Ghana behind, and thinking this way only entrenches the probability of being perpetually relegated in the league of world economic development. There’s more than this to the issue of population growth in Ghana, but to put it in a more simply terms, uncontrolled population will certainly be inimical to Ghana’s economic growth and progress. We need to be bold and focused as a State, take serious economic decisions that will go a long way to help us today, and the generations yet unborn.
God Bless Our Homeland Ghana.
By Kumi Mark Nelson.
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