Hardly anyone paid attention when Trinidad and Tobago Prime Minister Dr. Keith Rowley visited Ghana early in May 2016. The lack of interest was probably because of economic realities. Major markets like the US and China are looking less towards West African and Caribbean nations as energy producers. There’s been a dramatic collapse in commodity prices.
But – with a clear approach that considers the political costs of change and some clever, targeted policies focused particularly on technological innovation in the energy and other sectors – Ghana and Trinidad and Tobago could become important allies. They have much to learn from each other.
Both countries had positive rates of growth from the 2000s – more than 8 percent for Trinidad and Tobago (up to 2008) and 6.6 percent in Ghana (to the present). These were driven by high commodity prices and favourable global conditions.
Trinidad and Tobago was known in energy circles as a major exporter of liquefied natural gas to the US. It supplied between 75 percent and 80 percent of all the US’s liquefied natural gas needs until 2008. Then fracking became more viable and new investments in domestic energy production took off in the US. In 2015 the now sacked governor of Trinidad and Tobago’s Central Bank declared that the country was in a recession.
Meanwhile, popular media touted Ghana as an integral part of an “Africa Rising” narrative. But this narrative has also lost steam.