Every Ghanaian is an economist. Like Jesus who, according to the Bible, was “acquainted with grief”, Ghanaians are perpetually acquainted with economic hardship.
The only things that are working in Ghana are shopping malls and outbound tourism, namely selling packaged tours to wonderworld Dubai, pleasure-soaked South Africa and exotic Greece. At whose expense? Though the leisure trips are priced in cedis, the organizers require dollars and euros to stay in this type of business. The hotels in the receiving countries will not sell their beds in cedis. The airlines, foreign-owned, will need dollars to continue staying in the air.
They will get their dollars either from the Bank of Ghana or the forex bureaux. These days, those black market merchants in long gowns and frightful beards have pitched camp at the Arrival Hall of the Kotoka Airport. It’s a free market.
So free that it has sunk the cedi. Among the beneficiaries of the free market are the foreign-owned churches with branches in Ghana. Word is that a lot of forex transactions take place at the beginning of the week, and it is by local reps of foreign bishops and General Overseers who must ensure that the cedis get changed into dollars for repatriation. And we are looking on because we are God-fearing!
There are no goods on earth that are not available in a shop near you. There are malls everywhere, springing up daily like churches, selling, at least, 96% foreign goods. How do they come by the goods? Imported with hard currency.
We are importing dog food!!! Why? Because “there are no substitutes to satisfy the sophisticated taste of the South African dogs, German shepherds and Rottweillers”.
We import vegetables from Sahelian Burkina Faso.
In economic planning for a country, a government needs to be deliberate about blocking capital flight. It starts with encouraging local substitutes, products of local research. It is state-led and it is intentional.
When Kwame Nkrumah said Ghanaian industries would develop at breakneck speed, it was on the back of a long-term plan to drive import substitution and secondly, to take advantage of the raw materials that abounded in almost every region of Ghana.
The corned beef factories were sited in Bolgatanga and Pwalugu where cattle were in abundance. After killing the cows to processing the meat, the hide was sent to the Kumasi tannery to be turned into leather. The leather became the raw material for the Kumasi shoe factory producing boots for the security forces.
As a policy, expatriate vehicle importers were to import only knock-down parts for assembling here, thereby transferring technology. That’s how come Ghana, with time, manufactured its own Boafo and Adom vehicles.
We manufactured tyres at Bonsa factory, from our own rubber plantations
The Paper Conversion Factory at Takoradi was coming out with paper products. The raw material for the paper came from trees specially planted for the purpose. Our Railway Location demonstrated technology transfer in the 1960s, long before China’s Deng Xiaoping learned the theory in school.
Nkrumah made it a policy not to allow 100% repatriation of profit by multinationals. The state retained a percentage to fund local development.
The masterminds of the 1966 coup put down Nkrumah’s efforts by claiming that the factories were poorly managed.
Poorly managed! Even in 2022? We shouldn’t be saying this in a country that has produced the Ishmael Yamsons, Kobina Richardsons, Sam Jonahs and the Kofi Amoabengs of this world.
I have said, since 2005, that even an SHS student can run Ghana’s economy. All it takes is the ability to attract World Bank and IMF bail-outs and bilateral loans. The rest will be on autopilot: the economy will manage itself.
A Third World country that is planned should be doing what General Kutu Acheampong did: declare Operation Feed Yourself and get every school to own a farm. It worked.
In this year, 2022, I am, in addition to school farms, urging government to encourage Church/Mosque Farms. If there is one segment of our society that is parallel to poverty, it is the church. How about acquiring land and getting the hungry teeming unemployed youths onto farms jointly owned by the youths and the churches/mosques?
Farming is not only weeding and planting; it is also management. Let the youth farm for three months, seedlings and other inputs supplied by the church, including two meals a day. After three months, when the harvest is brought in, the church should buy the product and pay the youth to continue farming. Churches and mosques have no problem with transporting the produce to the markets.
The alternative to all of the above is millions of youths by the roadside, graduating from pilfering to armed robbery.
All of the above makes no sense because they are not in Master’s degree and PhD Economics textbooks.
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