J.H Mensah: Economics, Academic, Politician Bows Out

The death of Joseph Henry Mensah yesterday at the ripe age of 89 , has depleted the rank of the first generation of a class of political elite, who dictated the pace of events in the country before and after  independence.

J.H Mensah, in his lifetime was a recurring decimal in the arrangement of state from 1953 to 2005.

With Economics as the intellectual pursuit of choice, J.H Mensah attended the University of the Gold Coast (now University of Ghana) between 1948 and 1954.

He then headed to University of London then Stanford University, where he earned his both a bachelor’s and master’s degree with a specialization in economic theory and development.

In 1954, he became a Research Fellow in Economics at the University of Ghana, which lasted until 1958.

J.H Mensah was the first Ghanaian to be appointed as the Head of Agency at the National Planning commission; he drew and implemented the country’s Seven-Year Development Plan (1962–1969).

He quit that job in 1969 to participate in politics when the ban on political activities was lifted.

During the Progress Party (PP) administration in the Second Republic, he became a Member of Parliament (MP), as well as Minister of Finance until 1972, when Dr. Abrefa Busia, was overthrown by Ignatius Kutu Acheampong.

Between 1974 and now, Mr. Mensah has worked in different capacities both at home and aboard. These include Chairman and Managing Director, Development and Managing Director, Development and Management Consultants (Ghana) Ltd; Chairman, Sunyani District Council (1978-1981), and Proprietor of Banka Farms Limited.

Mr. Mensah served as a member of the African Advisory Council of the African Development Bank (ADB) between 1993 and 1997.

Mr. Mensah wanted so much to help the country that in 1996, he contested the Sunyani East seat on the ticket of the New Patriotic Party and won in the Parliamentary elections in December 1996 to become an MP. He retained the seat in the 2000 polls.

He was a foundation member of the NPP and aspired to be its presidential flagbearer in 1998, but lost to the eventual winner, who went on to win the 2000 presidential election, ex-president John Agyekum Kufuor.

He served at various times under John Kufuor, first as the Minister and Leader Of Government Business from 2001-2003.

He went on to become the Minister for Public Sector Reform and National Institutional Renewal Programme from 2003-2005.

As a senior cabinet minister from 2005-2006, he played pivotal roles in the implementation of the president’s agenda, especially in the areas of finance and economics.

J.H. Mensah was born to a father who was in the Gold Coast Civil Service and a mother who was a trader at the Kumasi Central Market.

He was the third of 10 children.

He attended St Peter’s Cathedral School, in Kumasi and Achimota School thereafter.

After Achimota School, J.H. Mensah went to the University of Gold Coast, where he studied economics.

He is on record as the first President of the Junior Common Room of the Legon Hall.

From Legon he proceeded to Stanford University in the United Kingdom and later to California, USA for further studies.

H died yesterday, Thursday, July 12, 2018, from complications arising from a stroke he suffered in 2017.

He had been at the 37 military Hospital for the past 12 months.

May his soul rest in peace.


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