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Ghana: Who’s who in circle of President Nana Akufo-Addo

By Jonas Nyabor
Posted on Wednesday, 20 October 2021 10:14, updated on Thursday, 4 November 2021 14:47

After a second successful presidential bid in December 2020, Ghana's President Nana Akufo-Addo is hoping to leave behind a positive legacy with the help of a strong network of appointees and relations, most of whom have been given specific tasks to complete before he exits office in January 2025.

Nana Akufo-Addo won the December 2020 presidential elections beating his main contender from the National Democratic Congress (NDC), John Mahama, for the second time.

His 2020 victory, a less impressive show compared to that of 2016, was challenged at the country’s Supreme Court for more than a month – by the opposition NDC – until his victory was upheld on 4 March 2021.

Following the court’s decision, he has had to hurry to get the country’s economy back on track after it saw a significant dip due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Putting together a strong team of people to pull the country out of the looming debt crisis and setting it on a path of economic progress has become a major priority for Akufo-Addo in order to leave a positive legacy upon his exit.

The network of people assembled to execute his second term mandate include loyal political allies, close family relations and some business ties.

Loyal political allies

The 57-year-old doctor is the Vice President of Ghana. He was the deputy governor of Ghana’s central bank between 2006 and 2009 until he resigned. Several months earlier, he had taken a leave of absence from the bank to team up with Nana Akufo-Addo as a running mate for the 2008 presidential elections on a New Patriotic Party (NPP) ticket.

Bawumia has fast-risen to fame and often been publicly extolled by his boss who has made him the lead figure for the country’s major economic policies and digitisation agenda. There are already loud calls for his election as the presidential candidate for the NPP in the 2024 elections.

Owusu Akoto Afriyie

Owusu Afriyie Akoto is an agricultural economist by profession and served as a lawmaker between 2009 and 2016 before Nana Akufo-Addo appointed him as the agriculture minister.

His task was primarily to ensure the success of the government’s promised ‘Planting for Food and Jobs’ initiative, which was aimed at ensuring food sufficiency while creating jobs along the value chain for the country’s unemployed youth.

In Akufo-Addo’s second term, he looks over the production, marketing, processing and exports of cashew, oil palm, shea, coconut, mango and rubber meant to stop Ghana’s over-reliance on cocoa. The target is to get each crop to make the country at least $2.5bn annually after 2028.

Francis Asenso Boakye

The 43-year-old minister for works and housing is the youngest on this list. He is a former deputy chief of staff and has been Akufo-Addo’s political assistant since 2008 when the latter first contested the presidential election.

Asenso Boakye is on record as the founding president of the Tertiary Students Confederacy of the NPP (TESCON), a students’ wing of the NPP.

Ursula Owusu-Ekuful

The minister of communications and digitalisation is also the MP for the ruling NPP in Ablekuma West. She was a strong supporter of Akufo-Addo’s successive campaigns for the presidency

Papa Owusu-Ankomah

He is the high commissioner to London. Owusu-Ankomah was a founding member of the ruling New Patriotic Party and MP for Sekondi, Western Ghana, from 1996 to 2016.

Bossman is Ghana’s ambassador to Paris, UNESCO and the OECD. She is also a former director of the Integrity and Anti-Corruption Department of the African Development Bank and acting chairperson of Ghana’s Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice

Anthony Akoto Ampaw, also known as ‘CheChe’ from his radical student days

He is a partner at the president’s law firm – Akufo-Addo, Prempeh & Co – and represented him at the presidential election tribunal in January 2021.

Close family relations

The investment banker and veteran of Wall Street is a cousin of President Akufo-Addo. In 2017, he was appointed as Ghana’s finance minister and has been serving in this capacity to date. He is the only person in Ghana’s history to be reappointed as finance minister after an initial four-year term.

Ofori-Atta’s role as the country’s purse manager has empowered him to lead efforts for raising money to finance the government’s many projects and fix its debt challenges using innovative means.

Akwasi Amoako Atta

Amoako Atta, another cousin of President Akufo-Addo, has served as roads and highways minister since 2017. For a country whose paved road network is below 50%, with infrastructure being a major deciding factor in national elections, he occupies a strategic office critical to the success or otherwise of the NPP and Akufo-Addo government.

“In the history of Ghana, [there hasn’t been] any roads minister who has performed better than Kwasi Amoako Atta,” President Akufo-Addo said in October 2020 during a campaign tour of their home area in the Eastern Region.

Gabby Asare Okyere Darko

He is a cousin of the president and a leading member of the governing NPP. He has been tagged as the ‘prime minister’ of Ghana – in reference to his close relationship with the president and his influence within the party and the government – although he holds no formal position or appointment. He is a trained lawyer and co-founder of the pro-government think tank, the Danquah Institute.

Nana Bediatuo Asante

He is a lawyer who started his legal career as an attorney at Paul Weiss Rifkind Wharton & Garrison, a prestigious Wall Street law firm.

He is a cousin of President Akufo-Addo and has been his executive secretary since 2017. He was one of the few persons to be appointed to serve in the government even before Akufo-Addo was officially sworn in as president.

Bediatuo Asante succeeded Ambassador Thomas Kwesi Quartey, who is currently the vice-chairman of the African Union Commission.

Edward Akufo-Addo also known as ‘Bumpty’

He is a younger brother to President Akufo-Addo and business partner of Gabby Otchere-Darko on several energy projects.

Rebecca is the First Lady of Ghana. She established the Rebecca Akufo-Addo Foundation in 2017, which focuses on combatting malaria and malnutrition.

Business ties

Freddie Blay

He is the national chairman of ruling NPP and has been the chairman of Ghana National Petroleum Corporation’s seven-member board since 2017.

Blay will be at the centre of the arguments over the government’s plans to borrow over $1bn to invest in its acquisition of a 37% interest in the Deep Water Tano Cape fields and a 70% stake in the South Deep Water Tano fields in partnership with Norway’s Aker and AGM Petroleum Ghana.

Yofi Grant

He is the CEO of the Ghana Investment Promotion Council, a longtime businessman and friend to Akufo-Addo as well as Ken Ofori Atta, the finance minister.

Keli Gadzekpo

He is a board member of the Electricity Company of Ghana and is a former director at Ghana’s central bank, the Bank of Ghana.

Gadzekpo is one of the founders of Databank in Accra and a close associate of President Akufo-Addo as well as Ofori-Atta, the finance minister.

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