8 Pages

Introduction: development and international order

In 1961 the World Bank, and the American and British governments, funded a project to build a dam and power station in Ghana. The Askombo Dam created the largest man-made lake in the world, Lake Volta, and was argued to be important because it would make available to Ghana an abundant supply of power, which was thought necessary for economic development. Large infrastructure projects like this were typical of the kinds of development projects funded by international development agencies during the 1950s and 1960s – be they dams, roads, power stations or ports. By 1987, the World Bank was supporting an entirely different kind of development programme in Ghana: a structural adjustment programme. The programme aimed to establish a policy framework that stimulated growth, encouraged savings and investment, and strengthened the balance of payments. This was to be accomplished by a series of reforms, including liberalization of trade, reducing the role of the state in the economy, and improving the ‘incentives’ for the private sector. In 2001, Western states and development agencies were stressing new concerns such as the importance of ‘good governance’, ‘civil society’, the consolidation of democracy, and explicit poverty reduction measures as the way towards development in Ghana. This sequence of changes is not confined to Ghana, of course, and in one way or another is typical of the kinds of projects and programmes funded by development agencies in almost all developing countries over the last 50 or so years.