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Letter from Africa: What can Ghana learn from Norway?

| Tuesday, 01.05.2016, 02:14 PM |   (1322 views)


In our series of letters from African journalists, Ghanaian writer Elizabeth Ohene considers what her country can learn from Norway.

My visit to the Norwegian city of Lillehammer a few weeks ago reaffirmed my conviction that the Scandinavians really are a class act.

Those who follow these things would remember that Lillehammer was the host city for the 1994 Winter Olympics.

I remember the images of a pretty town on television but then I know that the camera can portray my home city Accra as a pretty town when I know the reality to be somewhat different.

You can take it from me that Lillehammer is as picturesque and pretty as anything you have seen on television.

It is a small town of about 26,000 people and the first thing I wondered when I arrived at the train station was how they had managed to host the Winter Olympics.



But I was soon to discover that organising big numbers in small places comes to them easily.

Indeed, as I looked on in amazement at the smooth running of the conference I was attending, I wondered about what lessons to take back with me.

And the more I looked on, it occurred to me, it was the might-have-been that was the most important.

Touchy subject

I have written on other occasions about the unmanaged population growth of Ghana.

I have drawn attention to the fact that at Ghana's independence in 1957, we had a population about the same as Norway.


However, 58 years later, Norway still has a population of just over five million people and Ghana has almost 28 million people, according to the latest figures from the statistics department.

I know this is not a popular subject in Ghana and every time I have tried to raise it, I have been met with hostility from many quarters.

But I still think that there must be a lesson somewhere we can learn in having a manageable-sized population.


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