On December 7th, 2016, the presidential elections took place in Ghana. Incumbent president John Mahama, from the National Democratic Congress party, and Nana Akufo-Addo, from the opposing New Patriotic Party, were the two major candidates for this election. After some districts’ ballots had delays for a couple days, the Electoral Commission declared Akufo-Addo the winner, and president Mahama soon conceded defeat. Akufo-Addo won 53.85% of the total votes, while Mahama garnered 44.0%. President elect Akufo-Addo will begin his presidency on January 7th.
This election was not the first time these two men competed against each other. Both candidates ran for their respective parties in the last election cycle in 2012. Mahama was the incumbent president after his predecessor, John Atta Mills, died of a hemorrhagic stroke in July 2012. Akufo-Addo had been the NPP’s candidate for the presidency in 2008. The election was close, and Mahama won with 50.7% of the vote over Akufo-Addo’s 47.74%. Controversy followed this election, as the NPP challenged the Electoral Commission’s decision on the Supreme Court, which was denied in 2013 on a vote of 5-4.
Mahama’s administration saw the decline in the prices of commodities in the international market. Ghana is rich in resources including oil, diamond, bauxite, and cacao beans, and relies heavily on exports to fuel its economy. This decline has increased inflation to around 15% from less than 10% at the beginning of his administration. Economic growth has slowed down from 25% in 2012 to around 4% in 2016. Increased spending on public wages and energy subsidies has only negatively affected Ghana’s economy, and a hike in taxes has caused frustration amongst Ghanaians, who are now looking at the NPP for solutions.
Akufo-Addo has promised he will revive the economy by cutting corporate taxes and focusing on the private sector, claiming these measures will help reduce unemployment. Economic forecasts predict a higher growth, and Ghanaians are now waiting for his term for change to begin.