President Nana Akufo-Addo says he will not allow Ghana's economy to collapse

People walk on the street around Kwame Nkrumah circle in Accra, Ghana, December 2, 2016. Picture taken on 2 December 2016REUTERS/Luc Gnago

Ghana's new president, Nana Akufo-Addo, used his first State of the Nation address to vow he will not allow the nation's economy to collapse.

Akufo-Addo, a 72-year-old former human rights lawyer, won a tightly-contested presidential election by defeating incumbent John Mahama, securing 53.8% of the vote against Mahama's 44.4% and becoming president-elect in his third attempt.

Once the star of Africa's emerging economies with hopes of oil riches, Ghana's economy is in a "bad way", according to the head of state, who outlined his plans to generate jobs, cut the budget deficit and waste and improve sustainable agriculture.

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"This economy of our country has been left in a bad way (...) it's true," Akufo-Addo told parliament. "The realities of the state are quite stark."

Three years ago, Ghana's economy was hit hard by a slump in global prices for its gold and oil exports. As the nation descended into inflation, authorities faced a plunging currency and were forced to enter a three-year International Monetary Fund (IMF) programme to stabilise national finances.

Ghana's President Nana Akufo-Addo during the swearing-in ceremony at Independence Square in Accra, Ghana on 7 January 2017REUTERS/Luc Gnago

However during his address, Akufo-Addo blamed the previous government for the failures to meet the IMF plan's objectives.

"More debt was accumulated by previous government in eight years than debt by past governments," Akufo-Addo said.

"Ghana's GDP growth rate in 2016 including oil is 3.6%, which is the lowest growth in 23 years." Fiscal deficit was 9% of gross domestic product last year, significantly higher than the 5.25% target.

"I will not allow this economy to collapse under my watch," he added, but failed to gave many details on how his administration would implement his revival plan.

Just over a year ago, IBTimes UK reported hundreds of Ghanaians took part in a so-called '#RedFriday' to protest against an increase in taxes and utility bills. The protests, led by the pressure group Occupy Ghana, focused on a number of issues, including high electricity and water tariffs, fuel prices, taxes and corruption.

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