Monday, 14 November 2016

The Economic Impact of Ghana's Election in 2017

As Ghana’s presidential elections fast approaches, Goodman AMC makes an in-depth analysis of each candidate’s proposed economic policies and their macroeconomic impact in 2017. This research briefing describes how major factors gives an insight to diverging economic trajectories under a Mahama or an Akufo-Addo administration.

The proposed monetary policy for the National Democratic Congress (NDC) is centered on national debt reduction, expanding infrastructure and job creation within the private sector. Recently the NDC party has been construed as being a precursor to higher taxation and the tightening of government spending.

Comparatively, the monetary policy objectives for the New Patriotic Party (NPP) are centered on public sector job creation and increased government spending. NPP governmental policy also supports business-friendly legislation and legislation concerning issues such as universal education entitlements and extensive public work projects.

This scenario analysis provides a thorough and undeviating system for forecasting macroeconomic activities under either an Akufo-Addo or a Mahama presidency.

Goodman AMC is an independent advisory firm with no political affiliation.

Image Credit: World Bank

Tuesday, 6 September 2016

Mahama 48%, Akufo-Addo 45% in latest Goodman AMC Online Opinion Poll

President Mahama has opened a slim margin lead over the New Patriotic Party’s flag bearer by emerging from his party's campaign launch in Cape Coast with a lead over Akufo-Addo for the first time. By earning a single digit 3-percentage point bounce, this new finding marks Mahama's best showing against Akufo-Addo in Goodman AMC’s online opinion polls since March 2016.

Among likely voters, Mahama garners 48% support to Akufo-Addo’s 45%.  The Progressive People’s Party’s Papa Kwesi Ndoum now captures 7% (an uptick from 6% in June) of the vote, while Ivor Greenstreet has dropped from 1% to a zero decimal place. The remaining candidates are all trailing in distant zero decimal points.

Besides improving his standing against Akufo-Addo, the NDC’s campaign launch which has been followed by rigorous campaign activities appears to have created momentum and boosted the share of Ghanaians who think Mahama will move the country in the right direction (from 45% in June to 48% now).

Among likely voters, 42% now feel the NDC party is united, while 11% said the party was divided but would unite by December. 31% also believe that the NDC would remain divided even after the elections. NPP unity meanwhile keeps fading, the share of likely voters who say the NPP is "united now” was 28%. Another 21% also say the party was not united but will be by December, and there is still a significant 47% who say the party won't unite at all. This suggests that while the NDC’s campaign launch seems to have bolstered unity in the party overall and strengthened Mahama’s position among NDC supporters, a large share of NPP supporters still need to be won over.

Akufo-Addo's backers also say they are certain to support him come December; 79% of likely voters who are Akufo-Addo supporters say their minds are made up, while 17% say they could change their minds. More of Mahama’s supporters also say they are solidly behind him; 84% say their minds are made up while only 10% say their minds could change in the days left between now and Election Day.

A majority (52%) of likely voters say Akufo-Addo is running for president for the good of the country rather than for personal gains, while 48% say the same about Mahama. The share of likely voters who call Mahama as an honest and trustworthy person was at 49% compared to 51% for Akufo-Addo. Nevertheless, more than half (53%) of likely voters now say President Mahama is in touch with the problems ordinary Ghanaians face in their daily lives while 47% also feel the same for Akufo-Addo.

On the rest of the attributes tested, the percentage who say Mahama will unite the country rather than divide it was 53%, compared with 47% for Akufo-Addo. Those who say Akufo-Addo has the right experience to be president was at 52%, compared with 48% for Mahama. Notwithstanding, a majority (54%) would be proud to have a Mahama presidency compared with 46% for Akufo-Addo.

 Akufo-Addo’s favourability rating stands from the small hit it took in July (his favourability among likely voters stands at 51%). On the contrary, Mahama's favourability stands at a 56% rating after the NDC’s campaign launch. Thus beyond boosting his overall support, Mahama has a more positive impression on likely Ghanaian voters.

Reviews of Akufo-Addo’s vice presidential pick Mahamudu Bawumia tilt narrowly positive with majority of likely voters calling him a more favourable choice. Among likely voters who rated him, there are more positive feelings than negative ones; 54% have a favourable impression, with 46% unfavourable. Vice President, Kwesi Bekoe Ammisah-Arthur on the other hand also holds a 48% favourable to 52% unfavourable rating among likely voters which gives him a more negative impression than positive among Ghanaian voters.

The poll also reflects a sharpening of the education divide among Ghanaians that has been prevalent throughout the campaign. Among likely voters with university degrees, a majority lean towards Akufo-Addo, with 74% of his supporters having a university degree or higher education. Majority of Mahama’s support is also among likely voters who do not hold a university degree, about 52% of Mahama’s supporters do not hold a university degree.

Akufo-Addo also gained grounds among male voters; 54% of male voters back Akufo-Addo (which has seen a dip from 59% in June) as well as seniors between the ages of 25 to 34. Mahama still outperforms Akufo-Addo among female voters with an overwhelming 63% support (a slight decrease from 64% in June). He also does well among younger voters between the ages of 18 to 24.

President Mahama has enjoyed a bounce in support, but can he sustain it? It also remains to be seen if Akufo-Addo’s support is actually fleeting, or if it is a forecast of things to come. This new online poll shows wild swings amongst the electorate in August.  Voters are unsettled and highly transient, this race is therefore far from determined and the presidency is up for grabs.

With public opinion presidential pre-election polling being quite unused in Ghana, and the high tendency of Ghana’s hyper-personalized politics to attribute this poll to bias, we want to explain further what Goodman Poll’s presidential polling seeks to achieve and how it works:

1. Goodman Poll does not measure the outcome of Ghana’s December election. But instead, we measure (scientifically) who is ahead during election campaigning at a given point in time. Goodman Poll therefore does not answer the question "Who will win?" but the question "Who was ahead when we last looked?" To know who is ahead helps both politicians in office and out of office in their planning. This poll is therefore not meant to undermine any political party, but to help provide a solid read to candidates and also enable political parties to not be trapped in a vacuum, in which they are absent-minded of what the public feels.
2. Much will happen between today and 7th December, 2016 which could affect subsequent results in this presidential polling. Most political parties in Ghana are yet to begin active and rigorous campaigning which may give momentum to, or suck oxygen from a given candidate. A candidate may also drop or increase depending on their favourability ratings among floating voters, or some candidates may throw their support behind another candidate. This together with other foreseen and unforeseen instances might render the Goodman Poll very unpredictable.

The Economy (38%), Jobs and Unemployment (26%), Corruption (12%) and Education (8%) Top as Major Concerns of Ghanaians

After four straight surveys dominated by economic issues, 2016 is shaping up to be another election dominated by issues related with the economy. In the Goodman AMC polls, voters consistently rank the economy as their top concern though it has seen a slight decrease from 39% in June to 38% now.

But far from offering a clear advantage to one party, the economy offers risks and opportunities for all the candidates. Unless things change significantly in the next 12 months, the economy is neither good enough nor bad enough to provide either side with a completely clean narrative.

Overall, Ghana’s economic output has not been resilient in the face of challenges domestic and foreign.  According to the World Bank, The main threat to the ruling National Democratic Congress (NDC) is discontent at the rate of improvement in living standards, hikes in taxes, utilities and fuel prices.  Ghana’s real gross domestic product (GDP) growth was projected to rebound to 5.2% in 2016 from 3.4% in 2015. While the country’s medium-term growth prospect is strong with 8.2% in 2017 and moderating to 7.5% in 2018 under the assumption that fiscal adjustment remains on track with the support of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and other development partners.

Despite progress with its fiscal consolidation program, Ghana continues to face persistently high inflation, even with efforts to tighten monetary policy, as noted by the World Bank.

Jobs and unemployment which also has ties and is linked with the economy follows suit as the major concern of Ghanaians with 26%, with corruption in third place at 12%. Education follows with 8% which is not surprising looking at the recently released WASSCE results which represented a poor improvement in Ghana’s educational system. Agriculture has also fallen from 7% in June to 6%. According to SEND-GHANA, the low growth of the sector was attributed to the government’s inability to implement programs planned for the year 2015.

Energy policy also saw an increase from 4% in June to 5% largely due to Ghana’s unpredictable power challenges. Supporting small businesses is also gradually becoming a major concern to Ghanaians looking at the increasing rates of startups owned by university graduates who are mostly driven into entrepreneurship due to graduate unemployment.