E.M. Debrah recounts his experiences in public sector reform in Ghana. He goes into detail about the culture of the civil service in Ghana as well as how one normally enters into the civil service, such as through the specially formed training institute, the Ghana Institute of Management and Public Administration. He also explains the recruitment strategy needed to increase capacity within the civil service and the training programs and internal review sessions that were conducted. He explains the need to increase remuneration packages and the creation of pension plans to lure more talent into the civil service, as well as detailing the retrenchment program Ghana introduced. Debrah also talks about the dynamic between host countries and donors and how to strike the right balance within this relationship to be able to work effectively. Finally, he makes the point that in order for reform to be successful, it must be realistic as well. One must be able to see one’s own limitations and plan accordingly.
At the time of this interview, E.M. Debrah was serving as chairman of the Governing Council in Ghana. He joined the Ghana Foreign Service in 1955 and served in missions around the world, including the United States, Liberia, Ethiopia and Australia. He previously served as secretary to the Cabinet and head of the Ghana Civil Service. He earned degrees from the University of Ghana and the London School of Economics, and received honorary doctorates of law from various universities. In 2006 he was awarded the National Award of the Star of Ghana award for his service to Ghana and other Commonwealth and African countries.