A Ghanaian based Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) student and a trade expert, Zankawah Sanusi Kris has admonished president Nana Addo Danquah Akuffo-Addo to leave the matters of God to the clergy and concentrate on arresting the current economic downturn through industrialization.
Commenting on the controversial National Cathedral Project in an exclusive interview with blogger, Ananpansah B. Abraham,he said nothing at this point can save the face of Ghana in the midst of the worsening national crisis, except a shift towards adopting a protectionist policy aimed at boosting rice and sugarcane production.
“Nothing can salvage our economy at this critical stage rather than embarking on a massive industrialization drive. Nigeria in August 2019 implemented a protectionist measure by banning all rice imports and embarked on massive rice production, today they are able to bridge the demand and supply gap of rice. So Mr. President the citizens need food and not a Cathedral,”he noted.
According to him,the much-talked-about National Cathedral project is a sole promise by the president and there can be no justification for government to invest a whopping $400 million up from the initial $100 million into such a project in a circular country like Ghana at a time when the world’s economy is rapidly descending into doldrums with so many challenges.
He’s with the firm conviction that part of the funds to be allocated for the national Cathedral project should be used to procure plants for rice processing and value addition to provide jobs for the teaming youth.
“As of February this year, a complete 40ton/hr rice processing line plant exported to Burkina Faso cost about $160,000, such statistics suggest that with only $100 million the government could procure about 625 or many of these plants or much bigger ones which could produce 25,000 tons of rice per hour relieving the country from some of the burden of Rice importation and ostensibly the pressure it brings on foreign exchange reserves.
“The remaining balance of $300 million could be channelled into the cultivation of rice and sugarcane and other operation/overhead cost to feed these plants and that of the Komenda Sugar factory,”.
In his analysis, quoting from the Observatory of Economic Complexity (OEC world), Ghana in 2020 alone imported $151 million worth of raw Sugar, becoming the 45th largest importer of raw Sugar worldwide. The country also imported $391 million worth of Rice, becoming the 20th largest importer of Rice globally.
In the same year, Rice importation was the 3rd most imported commodity in the country. Ghana imports Rice primarily from: Vietnam ($282 million), Thailand ($45.5 million), India ($27.3 million), Pakistan ($20.6 million), and China ($5.95 million).
This he said compels the country to outsource employment distorting the external sector by pushing the country much deeper into trade deficit and balance of payment crisis.
These rice plants he pointed out are energy-friendly, use firewood, solar energy, and diesel to power them,adding that,”in the final analysis, the government will be creating employment, feeding its citizens and also becoming a net exporter of rice and sugar with the by-products from the rice production used for other economic purposes such as sodium for soap manufacture or poultry feed.