By Gifty Arthur
The Minister for Trade and Industry, Haruna Iddrisu, has hinted that government would this time round, take the opportunity that was likely to be offered by the senior national team, the Black Stars to market Ghana, when they qualify to play on the international stage at next year’s World Cup competition in Brazil.
This assurance comes on the heels of concerns and sharp criticisms that for the two occasions that Ghana had qualified to play at the world’s most patronized soccer tournament, it had failed to cash in on the tournament, the many prospects the platform offers, by selling the country to the world, through a well structured initiative by institutions such as “Brand Ghana”.
Many have questioned the priority of Ghana, when the team on two successive occasions, was offered the chance free, when it could have caused the nation millions of United States (US) Dollars to buy space in the world’s leading media organizations to advertise Ghana’s economic potentials.
Following the Black Stars huge defeat of the Pharaohs of Egypt at Baba Yara Sports Stadium in Kumasi last Tuesdays, already, people have started questioning if the nation is going to allow such an opportunity once again to slip by.
Leading the debate is the former Public Relations Officer (PRO) of the Ghana Football Association (GFA), Randy Abbey, who as host of Metro Television’s Good Morning Ghana programme yesterday, queried the Minister of Trade and Industry, if government was gearing up to seize this rare opportunity to advertise the nation worldwide.
In allaying the former PRO’s fear, Mr. Iddrisu, said what government was doing differently this time round, is to utilize the giant platform the stars are likely to be offered come 2014.
The sector Minister who is also the Member of Parliament (MP) for the Tamale South Constituency in the Northern Region, entirely agreed with Mr. Abbey’s submission by hinting that government through its agencies and other interested private organizations, would commence an aggressive branding of Ghana, both locally and internationally, to attract investors into the country with the Black Stars qualification to Brazil.
“Coming forward in 2014, we will embark on aggressive branding of the country, in order to build a compelling image for the country both nationally and internationally in order that we will attract the needed investment into the country.
“So as you indicated, we would position agencies, such as the Ghana Investment Promotion Centre (GIPC), Free Zones, Ghana Export Promotion Authority (GEPA)and other private sector players to take advantage of it.
“Even just the symbol of a Ghanaian player being used in an advert itself can be a way of promoting Ghana. We are working on something in relation to that”, he noted.
It will be recalled that in 2006 and 2010 when Ghana successively qualified for the World Cup for the first and second time respectively, Ghanaians expressed regret about the country’s inability to create an avenue to harness the huge potentials the tournaments presented by designing deliberate programmes to rake in foreign exchange.
In South Africa 2010, where Africa was for the first time, given the singular honour to host the rest of the world on one stage, most Ghanaians who followed the Black Stars to participate in the tournament complained about how we woefully failed to utilize the opportunity.
Example was how other nationals, especially Africans who were impressed with Ghana’s performance, and wanted mere paraphernalia like T-Shirts, flags from Ghana, found it difficult to get some to purchase on the South African market as they were very scarce.