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Ghana beyond aid; the realism of the utopian mantra.

Kwaku Dompreh

MSc Engineer and planning or loves to
4

Governments come and go. Conventionally, Policies and visions are short-lived. Making Ghana self–sufficient remains the ultimate dream of every leader. In 2021, 3 years after HE President Nana Addo outdoored the “Ghana beyond aid” campaign which have been detailed in the policy document; aimed at transitioning Ghana from the current socio-economic status to a prosperous and buoyant economy that is in charge of its own destiny, is yet to be fully initiated in practice. The government borrows from Western countries to fund the budget which apportions 60% of revenue to salary payment of public and civil servants. The country has not even realized how much is needed for manufacturing to thrive. Currently, majority of our imports 70-75% goes into consumables; from finished products, semi – finished and even agricultural produce. Extensive shortages of fertilizer to feed our local poultry industry have cast a bleak on the future of self-dependence on diary products. Near door neighbor; Nigeria orchestrated a no – import policy on diary products and have jumped capacity by 45% in 2years since 2017. Industries have been thrown in despair with interest rates above the reasonable threshold to sustain businesses and about 80% of our SME and indigenous businesses are “buy and sell” meaning they rely on imports to sustain their businesses. This does not connote a path to sustainability. A would be self – reliant country have been downgraded by the Fitch Ratings as credit distress and even if we can borrow at high interest rates which is not sustainable to the future.

 

 

Critically juxtaposing countries that have succeeded in being self – reliant: USA, Western EU countries, China, Taiwan, Japan and even Egypt paints a picture of rigorous planning and heavy investment year on year for 10 – 15years to reach their current state. An intensive budget of roughly $4bn into sustaining manufacturing, engineering and services. Training high skilled labor to feed these industries and most importantly enhancing local contents in not only participation but given premium to contracts to boost their financial capacity. Businesses that are given such support can produce more, compete with foreign companies and increase employment.

 

The situation Ghana faces is about inactions, lip-service and theories. Industries and manufacturing which have been conceptually and empirically proven to be the backboned of development does not develop right off from the word go. It need consistent and persistent effort of funding, participation and policy support. A manufacturing company which serves a small percentage of the 30 million population have weaker capacity comparatively against juggernaut industries from China or Taiwan, the produce might even end up being expensive ot the consumer. The need to award contracts and limit importation to specific products is now!

 

There is a lot one could pen down, however, beyond the mantra is the genuine effort to move beyond the overreliance on raw materials; gold, cocoa and now bauxite as major earnings in either raw materials exports and yet – to be refinement of these raw materials is the first step of the way. Another critical aspect is where the money goes; the necessary strategic investment or using the returns to service interest on debts and paying government appointee allowances. The issue is about the decision going forward, each of the decision have magnitude of impact on realizing our dreams as a country. Looking backwards to today 10years from now in the future, we should ask ourselves what have we failed to do today to realize a much prosperous country.   

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Kwaku Dompreh

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