The next and most important thing to do after changing the governance system through the proposed constitutional amendments, public sector reforms and social re-orientation of our people for the new Ghanaian, is to bring the economy back home.
Scoring double digit economic growth rate for 10 consecutive years for the economic transformation we need, to have any chance of becoming a reality, is the fundamental target that the New Patriotic Party (NPP) and the National Democratic Congress (NDC) have consistently failed to meet for the 28 years they have been in charge of our economy.
December 7, 2020 should mark the end of that era, for a new dispensation of consensus building on the basis of the forty-year national development framework that provides for required economic growth from mechanized agriculture and manufacturing for domestic consumption and exports; in addition to tourism, which should provide millions of sustainable jobs.
Relying on growth from low hanging fruits such as oil and gold from the extractive sector based on concession agreements for small percentages of “declared” profits is a lazy man’s approach to economic transformation for a resource rich nation like Ghana. It is not sustainable. Again, the services sector, which continues to lead by way of contribution to growth is handicapped when it comes to employment in the millions we need. Overall, the need to change direction is critical.
The world has moved on and there is a lot of catching up to be made. But we can only catch up when we use our constitutionally given powers to determine the right leadership. Election of visionary, capable, credible, and competent stewards to public office for our collective good must not be lost on us.
Giving up on industrialization indicates a lack of vision, courage, capacity, and competence on the part of our leaders. Beginning with the mixed economy approach and eventually settling on what is most suitable for our global competitiveness and growth on sustainable basis, both public and private sector investments must be deliberately put into the industrialization component of the 40-year development plan.
We have done it before. Ghana’s race to industrialization started under the stewardship of Kwame Nkrumah and should have been in league with countries like Singapore, Malaysia, and South Korea by now if we had not lost our way. Picking up the pieces and getting back on the track to economic success cannot be done by the usual NDC and NPP rent seeking, extractive politics of personal gain. Leadership for nation building is different. It is learned. And it is best learned when in opposition, and from a progressive government of national unity and stewardship.
For instance, Ghana is a relatively small country but with administrative regions that are political artificial constructs of 16 regions for the sake of politics. That must give way to fashioning out development planning and administration along its natural ecological belts like the Savana, Forest and Coastal zones with their unique factor endowments considered in the investments towards industrialization.
It sounds like a big joke to stand on the One-District-One-Factory (1D1F) election campaign slogan, as our flagship policy for industrialization in the 21st century, when we started the race to industrialization in the 20th century with giant manufacturing enterprises. What are the 1D1Fs of today manufacturing? What percentage would they contribute to GDP in five to ten years? And how many jobs would they provide?
To avoid wastage of public funds invested in the 1D1Fs so far, they must be ring fenced and consigned to the SME sector for nurturing. Giant manufacturing concerns are a necessity for our industrialization. We needed them yesterday. Any presidential candidate in the 2020 elections that has not envisioned investment in giant manufacturing plants, silos for storage, development of foreign markets and use of the state’s purchasing power to promote made in Ghana products, is not worth our votes.
We must however beware of the liars and policy vision thieves, who shout out what you want to hear just for the votes. It is most important to take corruption seriously. Unless we begin to elect incorruptible presidents and members of parliament, our desire to become industrialized would be a mirage.
Zero tolerance for corruption must be our watchword and we must expect it of every public office holder, elected or appointed, beginning from the head. The same way fish rots from the head, corruption begins from the head of state. Research has shown that any country that has lost the fight against corruption has a very corrupt head of state. Look for the incorruptible candidate(s) in 2020 and vote for them. They are certainly Progressive!
William Kofi Dowokpor
PROGRESSIVE PEOPLE’S PARTY (PPP)