Good Morning. I have travelled to and from Ghana, our beloved country, three times already this year, 2013. First, in December/January to take part in the midnight ?Cross Over? church services of the 31 December 2012, dovetailing into the early hours on January 1, 2013. That was awesomely powerful! Second, in March 2013, as a visiting scholar at the University of Ghana Business School where I lectured on the UGBS?s MBA programme. It was an experience I so much cherished; and I will be back there next year -2004. Third, in August 2013, where I was a member of a team that carried out consultancy work for a very important organisation in our dear country.
These occasions gave me that unique opportunity to watch, observe and develop a personal sense of direction as to which direction and at what speed the ship of our dear country was sailing: full steam ahead or having the stern foremost.
My first observation was about the great people of Ghana. Most people were going about their different walks and works of lives in the usual warm and hospitable Ghanaian tradition. In the midst of these, I heard and critically listened to many social commentaries, some of which kept ringing like a bell that times were hard. I have no quarrel with anyone?s observation. This might well be the case for most people; but let us cast a look back to other countries, even the developed world. In the United Kingdom, for example, I could not believe it when I watched with my eyes on National TV, British (I repeat-British) families queuing at food banks to collect food to feed their families. Just last month-October-all the so called ?Big 6? Utility companies announced price rises in Gas Bills averaging almost 10%. This brought about deafening shouts and cries across the length and breadth of the country?from Landsend, through the Houses of Parliament, to the Hebrides. This was soon followed by Thames Water, whose application to raise water bills of consumers was blocked by the water regulator/watchdog, Ofwat. The London Telegraph wrote, ?Ofwat warns utility companies to ?share their gains? and offer reduced prices to householders or it will be forced to ?step in? to solve the problem.? These same developments are escalating through many other European countries. You remember Greece? Spain? Just to mention a few. Times are really hard, even in the developed countries! And so, we are not alone.
What I am so happy about, however, is the way my fellow countrymen go about these reported hard times. Most Ghanaians are working even harder in all spheres of the country?s development to turn things around for the better. These are times that our country is facing a lot of challenges; economic, political, social, etc. But I lift my hat up for my hardworking fellow countrymen who continue to work hard, to steer our dear country out of most of these challenges. And I have no doubt that Ghana will succeed and once again lead the way for other African countries in the global war for economic recovery.
The Ghana Police
Not too long ago, there have been upsurges in all sorts of criminal activities in our dear country, Ghana. I am talking about the years 2007 all through to on about four to five years or so from thence. Armed robberies, petty pick-pocketing, both small and big scale drug trafficking, international corrupt activities, just to name a few. I, myself, was a victim of an armed robbery attack in the year 2009, where I fought with three heavily armed robbers who broke into my house in the middle of the night. However, recently, especially with the appointment of Mr Paul Tawiah Quaye as IGP, things metamorphosed for the better! I was pleasantly delighted to see, on my recent visits to Ghana, effective Police Patrols at every nook and crevice in Accra; brand new Nissan Patrol vehicles plying the length and breadth of the city; and I assume it is so in all the other regional capitals and towns. The days of the police asking victims to bring cars to pick them up to crime scenes have gone! There are even police tents built with tarpaulins at vantage positions all over the city of Accra. Not surprisingly, recent statistics have shown that crime in the city, and indeed in the country as a whole, has taken a significant nose-dive. And, I believe Mr Quaye?s successor, IGP Alhassan is following in the same footsteps as his predecessor. Congratulations to them both, and the Ghana Police Service.
Eyes From Afar, that?s me, have been observing, listening to social and economic commentators, most of the time lambasting the government on the trajectory Ghana?s economic development has been travelling. My immediate comment here is that, it is not a crime or a bad thing to criticise, once that criticism is a constructive one. And I have to say that, more often than not, most of these criticisms are not only constructive, but decent. It has also to be said that, there appears to be other critics who do not only criticise for the sake of criticism, but whose criticisms do not appear to hold any significant substance. Just hot air been gushed into the ears of listeners and viewers.
What would delight me, and I believe other fellow Ghanaians is that, by all means criticise constructively; but also make available what the other alternative which you think would help government, economic policy makers and the country at large to the appropriate authorities through the many government channels open to the public. In that way, these constructive criticisms would actually be taken on board, and would impact positively and contribute immensely to government?s ways and means of strengthening the country?s economic development.
Not too long ago, it was reported that government wanted to resurrect all the industrialisation programmes that Ghana?s first President, Osagyefo Dr Kwame Nkrumah, had in his Seven Year Development Plan for the country. I was personally delighted at this news. This is because no country?s economy takes a positive flight without a large scale industrialisation programme. Germany is the richest and biggest economy in Europe because of its significant industrialisation programmes. You remember the Mercedes Benz, Volks Wagon, Audi, and the Bremen Motor Works (BMW) automobiles? They are all made in Germany with assembly plants in selected countries around the globe. So is it for France, China, Japan Sweden and a few other European countries. These and other vital industries form the solid economic backbones for these countries.
However, my crucial example in this scenario is Brazil, in South America. Just a few decades ago, Ghana had the same economic rating as Brazil and Malaysia. Brazil is now ranked as the fifth best economy in the world. And Eyes From Afar can categorically attribute this great Brazilian economic feat to the myriad of industries that sprang up in the country, under the eagle-eyed sponsorship of China. China helped Brazil (and Mexico) to develop these very efficient manufacturing industries, most of which export these goods (still labelled Made in China) to the United States of America, mainly due to the juxtaposition of Brazil to the USA. I personally call this the Sino-Brazilian Model. I tried to sell this idea to a few Deputy Ministers from Ghana who were in London a couple of years ago; but it appeared they did not understand what I was driving towards.
To be continued?
By Dr Lawrence Akwetey, London, UK