President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo presented the State of the Nation Address (SONA) on Thursday morning, on 21 February 2019. The SONA is a constitutional mandate that gives a sitting president a platform to state the condition of the country. The president delivered the address in parliament.
Expectations before SONA
The expectations on any SONA address is the President’s highlights on the achievements and challenges in the previous year. Key areas of interest are services, industry, healthcare, education, economy, agriculture, security, and sanitation.
Ghanaians wanted the president to address employment in the country, especially on the unemployed status of nurses and doctors. Other key issues on the list of expectations before SONA 2019 were strength of the cedi against the U.S. dollar and collapsed banks. In addition, citizens wanted to hear about government allocations to the new six regions in the country.
Highlights of the 2019 SONA
The president reiterated support for peace and reconciliation process in Dagbon. To that effect, the 2019 Independence Day Celebrations will be held in Tamale.
The president backed the creation of the new six regions. Creation of the new regions opens up the country. With these new regions, no one will feel cut off from the centre. The government will allocate $1 million–in cedi equivalent– to all constituencies in the country.
Production, as measured by GDP, improved. Real GDP grew to 8.1% in 2017, up from 3.4% in 2016. Provisional data indicate GDP growth of 6% in the first three quarters of 2018. For the year 2019, Real GDP is forecast at 7.6%. In addition, fiscal debt and inflation have reduced.
Workers in the public sector received salary increment of 10 percent—at beginning of 2019. This is on top of the 11% increment in 2018. Also, the Youth Employment Agency engaged over 107,000 youth in various employment modules. The Youth Employment Agency expects to engage 125,000 youth in 2019.
2019 will see the introduction of a new standards-based curriculum—from kindergarten to class 6 in primary education. The new curriculum draws from the best practices across the world.
The government granted financial clearance for the hiring of 11,018 health personnel in 2018. The increase in staff is expected to improve efficiency in the provision of healthcare across the country. President Nana’s government made further clearance to employ 14,254 nurses in 2018.
The 2019 budget has a provision for the construction of 200,000 housing units. The government will continue with other housing projects for government workers, the police, and armed forces.
The county witnessed an increase in coverage of solid waste management—from 16.6% to 53% in one year. 35,862 household toilets were built the last year. The government will launch a National Sanitation Brigade.
The president inaugurated the Presidential Financial Stability Advisory Council. The body will advise the president on measures to be taken to avoid financial calamities such as the collapse of banks.