The Rita Marley Foundation is a non-governmental, not-for-profit, non-partisan organization founded in 2000 and registered under the laws of Ghana and governed by a Board (in accordance with S. 202 of the companies code 1963, Act 179).
Its operations are based on the principles of love and compassion and also based on the UN Declaration of Human Rights, the Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination against women (CEDAW), the convention of the Rights of the Child (CRC) and other regional and international instruments which work towards the elimination of poverty and deprivation of the poor in society.
There are over 1000 local and international NGOs in Ghana. As a registered member of the Ghana Association of Private Voluntary Organisations in Development and the National Committee for Non-Profit Organisations, RMF is well integrated into Ghana’s Development agenda
Ghanaians generally have relatively easy access to good education. Due to the fact that during the past decade, primary and middle school tuition is free and education spending by the government has been between 28% -40% of its annual budget. However, the 2001
Literacy survey shows, 49.9% of persons over 15 years of age are totally illiterate. It is reflective of the newness of the education policy and the lack of access to schools for persons in rural areas. Children attend basic school from 3 years old; but the facilities and equipment are largely lacking for this group.
The population of Ghana for the year 2000 is recorded as 18.8 million. Census data records state 51% is female; 0-14 year olds account for 41.2% of the population. That category has slightly more males than females. At the other end of the population pyramid, we find 3.4% being 65 years old and over; 52% of that group being female (UNDP 2000).
This is important when one looks at the rural situation. Those households mainly comprise older females and children. As males leave home for work in urban areas. Life is hard in the rural communities. Life expectancy at birth is 58.66 years for females and 55.86 years for men. Average household size is 8.4 persons.
12.5% of Ghana’s land mass is arable. 7.5% is permanent cropland. Agriculture accounts for 10% of the GDP and food constitutes78% of export. It is not surprising therefore that in the year 2000 the Government stated in its budget speech, plans to increase both the acquisition of land and access to land for investment. For the medium term, the government had also committed a total allocation of 410.8 billion cedis (7100=1US)
In a country of 18.8 million with a 2.2 % p.a. population growth, land tenure remains an important issue. For many land acquisition is still a privilege determined by Chiefs and Kings. In many villages, land is still owned by males. Females provide labor on hectares of farm land.
It is generally agreed that Ghana grows some of the world’s tastiest pineapples. That fruit together with cotton, cashew, papaw, passion fruit, chili and bananas continue to contribute to the growth of trade with the EU. Since the ban imposed in 1998 for breaches in safety and standard regulations was lifted.
Growth in the agricultural sector continues. It seems Ghana’s export diversification should continue to feature the non-traditional exports. Increase in value with additional secondary industries should be quickly pursued; mainly with the above-mentioned crops where post-harvest loss can run as high as 30%.
Ghana is a member of the Economic Community of West Africa (ECOWAS). Other members include Nigeria, Liberia, Sierra Leone and Gambia. ECOWAS has 15 states including Francophone and Portuguese territories. As a trade block, the ECOWAS total export is only 0.4% (1998) of world export. This is in comparison to the European Union which contributes 35.5% of world exports or the Southern African Development Community (SADC), which records 0.8% of world trade. According to the World Trade Organization (WTO)) annual report (1999), the U.S, European Union and Japan are together key players in world trade.
Africa has key indicators of growth and potential expansion which offer much interest to investors. In 1998, real GDP growth was higher in Africa than any other developing region, while inflation was slightly higher than in Asia and significantly lower than other developing regions. An UNCTAD report shows that for every year since 1991, the rate of return on Africa FDI was between 5% and 15%. This is better than the next best region in the world. Half the World’s ten fastest growing economies are in Africa (Mbendi, March 2001).
As has been pointed out by different sources, there are challenges to growth which must be faced. These include:
- Fluctuating currencies
- Bureaucratic red tape
- Lack of local capital
- Lack of experience in specialist non-traditional agriculture production
- Lack of infrastructure (although in areas such as telecommunications and energy, Africa is able to use new technologies to leapfrog more advanced communities).
These challenges can be overcome in a country such as Ghana, which recently demonstrates exemplary democratic process in holding its national elections and political hand-over of party responsibilities. This show of political peace and coherence could be viewed as an attempt to encourage investment and mobilize its rapidly maturing population.