No meaningful nation building could go on without taking a keen interest in the process of industrialization.
Indeed the human society has advanced because certain people decided to embark on a path that led to the industrial revolution in the 15th Century. And if the West has had unparalleled control over the affairs of the world, it is because they saw their survival tied to manufacturing. The north Asians also took a clue from the West and have consistently projected the course of industrialization.
For Ghana, like other African states, industry building has been on decline since independence. Kwame Nkrumah, upon attainment of independence set himself on rapid industrialization to rid the country of dependence on foreign goods.
As such he set up a number of import substitution industries that were supposed to provide the goods we were importing. But after his overthrow, the industries steadily declined such that we continue to import the things we could produce.
We must understand that we cannot survive if we make no effort to produce the things we need. If we continue to import manufactured cars, blenders, television, etc., it means that we would never build capacity to produce such things, hence continue to be dependents.
The Asians realized this fact and therefore started producing goods that were deemed inferior compared to that of the West, yet, gradually they seemed to be taking over the world market.
The desire not to industrialize is seen even in the way we fashion our educational system. Today, there is too much emphasis on the services rather than technology such that every average Ghanaian graduate comes out with a certificate in banking, business administration, etc.
But the sad issue is that even those who graduate with degrees in science and technology have no choice than to work in the service sector because there are no avenues in the manufacturing sector for them.
Any serious government determined to salvage the country from years of underdevelopment must take keen interest in developing the manufacturing sector. This is because it would serve as a catalyst that would stir up agricultural production to produce raw materials for these industries.
It would mean we have to develop a lasting source of power to fuel these plants, create a lot of parasitic industries that would help diversify the economy. Indeed if we are to develop infrastructure, it would simply be to support an emerging manufacturing dispensation.
There is no way our economy would repair until we wean ourselves from dependence on International Monetary Fund (IMF) and begin to consider manufacturing. It is only when we can produce for ourselves and our exports exceed our imports; when we stop exporting raw cocoa beans and gold in its ore state that we stand any chance in this competitive world. If gold mining could employ the people of Oboasi for years, a gold refinery could do much more.
We cannot help but talk about the many blessings industrialization could be to employment. Thousands of people could be employed even in a car assembly plant, not to talk about car manufacturing. One also wonders why Ghana cannot enter into negotiations with the giant car manufacturing companies to set up plants in Ghana in order to produce for the West African market.
What prevents the state from partnering with Apostle Kwadwo Sarfo, for instance, to set up a car manufacturing plant and champion made in Ghana cars. This also means that so long as we do not have credible alternatives, we cannot change our taste for foreign goods.
President Nana Addo Dankwa Akuffo Addo puts it right when he insisted he was going to revamp the industrial sector. We can only hope that it would not just be a political rhetoric that would end nowhere, but would be accompanied by real work. This is because there is no way we can continue to survive in a world that is ever advancing when we decide to only remain underdeveloped.
To develop may come at a steep price but that is the only way to come out of this cycle of dependency and underdevelopment that has characterized the 60 years of our independence.