Ghana has decided.
In a change of leadership, Nana Akufo-Addo, 72, will be the country’s new president after beating incumbent leader John Mahama of the National Democratic Congress (NDC). This was Akufo-Addo’s third bid for the country’s presidency after he narrowly lost out in elections in 2008 and 2012.
Akufo-Addo won convincingly this time with 53.85% of the vote, according to Ghana’s Electoral Commission. The incumbent won just 44.4%.
Mahama, despite touting several infrastructure projects, lost out in an election that shaped up to be a referendum on his handling of the economy. Under Mahama, Ghana’s economy, affected by a global crash in commodity prices, has stuttered to its slowest growth rate in more than two decades. Akufo-Addo consistently cited the handling of the economy as a reason to vote out the incumbent.
Even though official confirmation comes two days after the close of polls on Dec. 7, local media had already projected a win for Akufo-Addo. A former foreign minister, Akufo-Addo’s win continues a trend of consistently peaceful elections and transition of power in Ghana which has seen it become regarded as one of the continent’s most stable democracies. This year, like most others, elections were largely peaceful and despite what the incumbent’s party described as an irresponsible preemptive declaration of victory by Akufo-Addo and his New Patriotic Party (NPP), Mahama promised to “respect the outcome of the election, positive or negative.”
The president called to concede victory to Akufo-Addo on Friday evening local time.
It was officially confirmed by the Electoral Commission Ghana about an hour later.
As part of his plans to boost Ghana’s faltering economy, president-elect Akufo-Addo plans to launch a range of job creation and employment projects. One of these, called “1-District-1-Factory”, is a commitment to “establish at least one factory” in all of the 216 districts in Ghana. Akufo-Addo also promises to even evenly spread development across Ghana’s 10 regions rather than the status quo which he describes as “Accra-Kumasi centered development.” This, he hopes, will end the “potentially dramatic exodus of young people towards the city centers.” Akufo-Addo also promises to abolish import duties on raw materials and manufacturing equipment and also slash corporate income tax by 5%.
“We have put in place programs to make sure we create jobs and prosperity for our youth so they can also stand on their own feet, thereby securing the peace and stability of our country,” Akufo-Addo said at a campaign rally last month. “We want to construct a bright future for the Ghanaian people.”