I am writing this piece as an optimistic Ghanaian who believes in reality and reasoning. Whatever you are about to read is based on my observations since 2012, when President John Dramani Mahama took the oath of office, after the demise of late Prof. John Evans Atta Mills. The aim of this article is to identify Ghana’s economic and strategic potentials as a nation and to suggest what must be done to sustain it.
President Mahama is without doubt the luckiest person in this country and probably the most experienced politician to ever become the President, having learnt the ropes from being a Member of Parliament (MP), to a Deputy Minister, Substantive Minister, a Vice-President and now President. You see he has no excuse, but to succeed, if not it is an indictment to all the politicians we have in Ghana.
His ascension to the throne was a mix blessing. He took office and not too long after, through an act of God, this was according to the President, The West African gas pipeline was damaged by a ship’s anchor in Togolese waters, and so for almost six month, we had what became known as ‘Dumsor’.
Despite the power crisis and the short period he had to campaign, he went ahead and defeated Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo.
If there was any lesson for the New Patriotic Party (NPP), it is that it is not enough for a candidate to know the country, but the country must know him or her. Nana Addo knows every nook and cranny of this country, but the country does not know him, so maybe they (NPP) might want to consider changing the candidate, if they ever hope to win 2016.
Thank God, we have something to celebrate today, as a lot has been done, in terms of power generation, The Bui Power Plant came on stream to augment the Volta River Authourity (VRA), and the power crisis is becoming a thing of the past. The President and his team need commendation, but I will humbly appeal to him, to look at the distribution. We cannot continue to talk about generation, when we don’t have the capacity to distribute.
So much emphasis has been laid on corruption in Ghana. Problems of corruption abound everywhere. In China, December 2013 saw more than 500 municipal lawmakers in one Chinese province stand down following an electoral fraud scandal, according to state media. In Turkey, the 2013 corruption scandal saw an ongoing criminal investigation that involves several key people in the Turkish government; most people involved being members of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP).
So please let us not beg the questions of corruption. 25 million people is bigger than one corrupt individual and far much bigger than even thousands planning political instability. If we get the economy right, the mercenary for tackling corruption and political unrest will naturally evolve.
Last year was described as Ghana’s year of corruption, this is a conclusion that I disagree with, but it is worth noting that last year saw the incidence and reports of corruption, like never before in the history of this country. Could the reports, be equated to mean that we are deepening democracy and transparency in this country and that nothing goes unnoticed and undetected?
The President has stated and demonstrated his commitment to the fight against corruption. A lot has been achieved, but a lot needs to be done to rid this country of the canker. The talking is too much, we want to see action on the part of those mandated to fight corruption.
According to Karl Marx, the economic substructure is the defining structure of a society. The economic and material relationships formed and maintained in the substructure are what shape the superstructure, or the “secondary and dependent set of institutions and ideas”. The superstructure, then, is comprised of society’s most basic institutions such as government, religion, and education.
Now this is true in every ramification. When you are poor, you don’t worry about security, protection, government, accountability et cetera, but a rich man has all these to worry about, because he has the means and the need to do so because these things affect him directly. If Ghana gets our economy right, underdevelopment, corruption and political unrest will be a thing of the past. The society will absolve and deal with them. This is why this subject matter is very important as all other problems facing us rest on it.
The economy is facing some challenges, Ghanaians are crying for a way out. The government must understand that you cannot grow and expand the economy by depriving it of money. If the economy must expand, Government must release money into the system, the economy will even out eventually. Inflation cannot and should not be the reason for not paying contractors etc.
Ghanaians feel the taxes are too much, it has led to the skyrocketing of prices of Goods and Services, electricity is gone up, water is gone up, Value Added Tax (VAT) is gone up by 2.5 per cent. Truly, no country can develop unless its citizens are ready and willing to pay tax, but what is worrying is that over the years, our taxes have not been applied well. It is my hope that by 2016, when the President comes to us, to account for his stewardship, he is able to tell us, what all the monies collected have been used for.
Research, Innovation and Technology
The place of research, innovation and technology can never be overemphasised. The worst thing in life is to be dragged from riches to rags. To avoid this, a society must continually engage in research, innovation and technology. It must develop a system where it has to appraise itself and advance new innovation and technology. This gives it comparative advantage over other nations. Every nation which hopes to be great must be ready to fund research to ensure continuity and development. Ghana should think biotechnology, information technology, legal research, military technology, nuclear energy, space exploration, et cetera.
Facts: In the world ranking of universities, American universities constitute about 7 out of the 10 best universities in the world.
Population and Productivity
A country’s economy is determined by the number of people and how productive they are. Ghana has about 25 million people.
One thing is having population; another thing is people being productive. There are two ways that you can grow your economy. You can either increase your (working-age) population or increase your productivity. That’s it. There is no magic formula for an economy to grow. To increase Gross Domestic Product (GDP), you actually have to produce something. That’s why it’s called gross domestic product.
Ghana, according to statistics is not lagging in this direction. Again to understand how productive people are in Ghana, you need to be on ground. From my experience of Ghana, our people are very hardworking, innovative and productive. In fact, productivity is inherent in our culture. I need not say more than to add that the people need government empowerment to enhance productivity. This is an area that needs improvement. Get this right, we can increase our GDP.
Finally, we should equally think of a diversified economy. It is good to note that a country is deemed sufficiently rich when its major source of income contributes less than 10 per cent of its entire GDP.
We have another opportunity with our current President and we have to get it right.