President Akufo-Addo has said that a sum of GH¢17.7 billion – 4.6 percent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) – has so far been spent on containing the COVID-19 pandemic since its advent in 2020, citing data from the Ministry of Finance.
During the State of the Nation Address (SONA), the president indicated that GH¢1.9billion was expended in ensuring that students and teaching staff returned to and stayed safely in schools.
Additional expenditure included the permanent engagement of 58,191 healthcare professionals as well as payment of extra incentives to frontline health workers. Also, nearly 5 million households and over 10 million people were provided with electricity and water subsidies at the time they were most needed, the president stated.
“I might add here that in some countries, school closures have lasted for twenty (20) months and children are only now going back to school. Our children did not lose a single academic year,” President Akufo-Addo said.
Offering updates on the state of critical infrastructure, President Akufo-Addo said despite adjustments to the timeline for completing health facilities under the Agenda 111 umbrella to supplement existing infrastructure – which were exposed as inadequate at the height of the pandemic, he offered assurance that the project will be completed before the end of his tenure on January 7, 2025.
“I have to report that like all major construction projects, it is evident that the initial schedule we gave for the completion of Agenda 111 was overly ambitious. Identifying suitable sites around the country, for example, has turned out to be even more problematic than had been anticipated.
“I am able to say that a great deal of the preparatory work has now been completed, and work has started at 87 of the 111 sites. I have been assured that preliminary work on the remaining 24 sites is ongoing. We have every intention of seeing this project through to a successful end, which will enable me to commission all 111 hospitals before I leave office on 7th January 2025,” he detailed.
The project is expected to create approximately 68,000 jobs: 33,900 for construction workers, and upon completion jobs for 34,300 health workers.
Similarly, President Akufo-Addo said a total 10,875 kilometres of new roads have been constructed during his tenure.
“We intend to continue with building roads around the country to accelerate the opening up of our nation,” he said.
Trade and agriculture
Touching on direct effects of the ongoing Russia-Ukraine war, the president stated trade has been hampered as approximately 30 percent of the nation’s wheat flour and fertiliser imports come from Russia. Additionally, 60 percent of iron rods and metal sheets are imported from Ukraine, and almost 20 percent of Ghana’s manganese is exported to Ukraine.
Gains in the agricultural sector include the realisation of an additional 13,190 hectares of irrigable land through rehabilitation of Tono, Kpong Left Bank and Kpong Irrigation Schemes for rice and vegetable cultivation.
This resulted in immediate benefits arising from the scheme – including improved rice yields, increasing from 4.5 tonnes per hectare to 5.5 tonnes per hectare and leading to increased production and growth in farm income, the president said.
“This has benefitted 14,264 smallholder beneficiaries directly, creating some 40,000 jobs along several value chain activities generated from the irrigation schemes,” he added.
This is in addition to the more than 1.4 million metric tonnes of cocoa beans production in the 2020/21 crop season.
President Akufo-Addo disclosed that 279 communities have been connected to the national grid under the National Electrification Scheme. This has resulted in an uptick in the national electricity access rate from 85.17 percent in 2020 to 87.03 percent as of January 2022. Furthermore, 487 additional communities are at various stages of connection and completion.
“We are on course to achieve our ambition of universal access to electricity by the end of my term as president of this country,” the president said.