Home » Business & Finance » Sylvain H. Boko » Decentralization and Reform in Africa

February 15 , 2010

Decentralization and Reform in Africa


I woke up at 3:30 on a steamy December morning at my hotel at McCarthy Hill, Accra, to prepare to take the early morning Vanef-STC bus operating on the Accra-Kumasi line. At 4am, the front desk called to inform me that I had requested a 3:45am wake-up time the night before. I figured a IS-minute tardiness is still within acceptable limits in Africa. Surprisingly, my bus left on time. Though it was filled to capacity (I could only find a seat in the middle row), the ride on "state transport" as it is called, was as smooth as it could be, given the dismal conditions of portions of the Accra-Kumasi road and the very loud local music emanating from the bus' speakers. As we drove through the lush forests of the Eastern Region, many thoughts crossed my mind regarding the effects of the current economic and democratic reforms (including decentralization) under way in the country, on the average person in Ghana. The bus company that I was patronizing, Vanef-STC, was itself a product of government divestiture from and privatization - an economic decentralization - of the previous State Transport Cooperation. I was informed that the perception by the users of "state transport" is that ever since the take-over by Vanef-STC, the quality of service has declined. This in tum was due to prolonged litigation by workers who felt that they had been wronged in the process of state divestiture.
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