Researching the politics of development



The challenge of public sector reform in Ghana

By Pablo Yanguas
5 April 2016
Will legal reform be enough? How can regular people be involved in debates about effectiveness? Is there an African philosophy of the public sector that can succeed where Western models have failed? Can civil society act as a catalyst for change when politicians lack the requisite political will? These were some of the questions that came up during a really engaging session on “Public Sector Reform: Challenges and Prospects in Ghana and Beyond” hosted by Professor Philip Duku Osei at the Ghana Institute of Management and Public Administration (GIMPA) on 4 April 2016.
The workshop served to disseminate some key findings from ESID’s research on public sector reform in Ghana conducted by Abdul-Gafaru Abdulai and Daniel Appiah:

  • A competitive clientelist political settlement shortens politicians’ time horizons.
  • The lack of a shared elite vision about the state further compounds the subordination of public bureaucracy to electoral considerations.
  • Ghana has adopted a rich tapestry of formal administrative institutions, but their implementation is hampered by continued politicisation of appointments and budgets, as well as by inconsistencies in the design and mandates of core public sector organisations.
  • Absent political initiative, donors have been the source of many reforms, and may still remain the key policy entrepreneurs in years to come.
  • Overcoming the challenges of competitive clientelism does not mean rolling back democracy, but instead benefiting from Ghana’s “democratic dividend” by fostering stronger links between public servants, reformers and civil society.

You can access the workshop slides here:

Public Sector Reform: Challenges and Prospects in Ghana and Beyond from EffectiveStates