What are the consequences of the measures in Ghana? - Economic, education, lockdown and girls and young woman
COVID-19 has a major economic impact on Ghana:
- The hospitality industry is negatively affected by the virus. The borders of Ghana are closed and no more tourists can enter the country.
- There is a decrease in trade as a result of the supply chain being disrupted.
- There is a contraction of foreign direct investment in the country because in many countries it is uncertain how long the crisis will last.
- It is possible that the agricultural value chain will be negatively affected. This is due to the disruptions in the global supply chain.
- The impact will most likely be a net loss of revenue for the government. This is due to the impact of the virus on commodity prices and shrinking trade volumes (Deloitte, 2020).
Ghana is an economy driven by imports. As a result, the virus is likely to have a huge negative impact on international trade, which is likely to draw on the country's reserves. Should COVID-19 persist for a long time, the economy could suffer greatly. In that case, government income and expenditure could drop significantly, resulting in job losses. This could erode the economic gains Ghana has experienced in recent years. The government expects a GDP growth for 2020 of 2.6%, which is 4.2% lower than the initially budgeted growth of this year.
The likelihood that the country will have to take out additional loans will also increase the debt risk. The country has a large unplanned increase in spending, especially in the health sector. The government estimates that the impact of COVID-19 could lead to a deficit of 6.6% of revised GDP. This is higher than the actual fiscal rule of 5% set in the Fiscal Responsibility Act (Deloitte, 2020).
COVID-19 already has the negative impact of slowing down economic activity. For this reason, several measures taken by the government are aimed at stimulating economic growth. In addition to these stimulus measures, the government is cutting back on expenditure. As a result, it is very likely that landed plans to improve the infrastructure in 2020 will not be implemented (Deloitte, 2020).
In order to alleviate the impact of COVID-19 on the people of Ghana, the government pledged 572 million GH to fight the pandemic. The government has also set up a GHȼ1 billion Coronavirus Enlightenment Program (CAP). This serves to mitigate the impact of the virus on businesses and households. The total fiscal impact of the pandemic was estimated at GHȼ9.51 billion. This corresponds to 2.5% of GDP. However, this proved to be a gross underestimation of the immediate budgetary impact of the pandemic. Among other things, the oil price and global economic growth deteriorated faster than anticipated. Global economic growth fell from 2.9% in January to -3% (Dzansi, 2020).
In addition, Africa initially needs USD 100 billion in financial support. This is because government revenues are drying up rapidly due to the sharp declines in commodity prices, tourism and trade (Davis, 2020).
Impact of the COVID-19 measures on education
On 15 March, a measure was imposed in Ghana requiring all educational institutions in Ghana to close down. As a result, approximately 9.2 million primary school students and half a million students in tertiary education were no longer able to attend school.
Following this measure, the Ministry of Education and the Ghana Education Service (GES) quickly took measures to ensure that education at a distance is possible. They have done this by setting up online learning platforms and by broadcasting lessons on television (Ghana Learning TV). This was set up for 1 million secondary school pupils. For kindergarten pupils, digital content was developed for TV and radio.
Despite the measures mentioned above, challenges remain to ensure access to these services. This is because many pupils and their families do not have access to the Internet. The Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey (MICS) 2017/18 showed that only 22% of households in Ghana have access to the internet. Also, only 15% have access to a computer. However, TV coverage (60.4%) and radio coverage (57.2%) are much higher.
School closures by COVID-19 have a potentially large negative impact on vulnerable groups, especially young girls. This is because female pupils are more vulnerable because an increase in (sexual) violence and teenage pregnancies are positively linked to school closures. In Ghana, there is already the problem that schoolgirls leave school prematurely as a result of pregnancy, and COVID-19 can therefore exacerbate this problem. The girls who become pregnant during the time of school closure face several challenges to rejoin, namely stigmatization, marriage expectations and child care (United Nations in Ghana, 2020).
Impact of the lockdown in Ghana
One of the measures in Ghana was a lockdown, but after three weeks this lockdown was lifted, although the number of infections was still increasing. The factor that prompted the government to lift the lockdown was the serious impact on the livelihoods of many Ghanaians. The lockdown imposed severe hardship on vulnerable households across the country.
Many Ghanaians lost their jobs as a result of the pandemic. However, unlike other countries, Ghana does not have unemployment benefits. As a result, those who lost their jobs had to find alternative means to take care of their families. No less than 86% of Ghanaian workers are employed in the informal sector. These informal workers have to go out for a day because otherwise they will not have money for food in the evening. An extension of the lockdown has driven these workers and their dependents further into extreme poverty and hunger (Dzansi, 2020).
Possible consequences of the COVID-19 measures on girls and young woman
- Child protection
COVID-19 and the measures taken to control the virus can increase the risk of violence, abuse, exploitation or neglect of children. Measures that keep society at a distance can block the assistance of NGOs.
- Girls and woman
Disease outbreaks increase the tasks of girls and young women because they often care for elderly and sick family members. They will also take care of siblings who do not go to school. This is a possible consequence that COVID-19 will have on these girls and young women in Ghana.
- Gender-based violence and coronavirus
Measures taken to combat COVID-19 such as the quarantine measures increase the risk of domestic violence among girls and women. It hinders access to essential protection services and social networks.
Children and especially girls are also at greater risk of exploitation, child labor and gender-based violence due to economic pressures on families. This pressure is a consequence of the virus outbreak.
- Health services
Evidence from past virus out brakes indicates healthcare resources are often diverted from routine health services. This further reduces the already limited access of many girls and young women to sexual and reproductive health services, as well as maternal, new-born and child health services (PLAN international, 2020).