With a population that has a higher number of children and elderly, Zambia is left with not enough workers. Its dependency ratio leaves it vulnerable to taking on too much future debt, regardless of any post-default restructuring solution.
Strength in exports to the rescue
While Ghana’s budgetary and fiscal deficits may be spiralling, the country is fortunate to be kept afloat by resilient prices in its two major exports, cocoa and gold. While most commodity prices crashed following the unwinding of global demand in late 2008, the gold-mining industry has been cashing in on the widespread perception that it is a commodity that can hold its value.
Chocolate seems also to be proving resilient in the crisis, although Ghana is in fact benefiting from the difficulties in neighbouring Côte d’Ivoire, the world’s largest cocoa producer. Ghana’s output has not yet regained the level of its last bumper crop of 740,000 tonnes in 2005/06. Nearly 650,000 tonnes seems possible in the current season, but the marketing board, Cocobod, hopes for 1m tonnes in 2010/11.
Oil exports promise another boost to Ghana’s foreign-exchange earnings, although the country may have to wait until the second half of next year before regular production begins. By then, oil prices are expected to have increased from their current levels of just above $50 per barrel.