Brand Ghana, to me, is the sum total of all the attributes that are symbolised in the title 'Ghanaian', acquired over the ages from the Songhai Empire with migration to our present location.
History has it that it was Mari Djata, the King of Mali who defeated the Kingdom of Ghana in Western Sudan in the year 1076. As a result, many of the conquered people fled southwards and eventually, it is believed, reached as far as Ashanti and the coastal plains of the Gold Coast. Of this the prevailing theory links the Akan people of the present Ghana, by direct descent, with the people of the great Kingdom of Ghana, which flourished in the old Ghana more than a thousand years ago.
Thus, the brand should by all imagination encompass all our achievements as a people and individual exploits in whatever field of endeavour; our collective and individual failures; our culture; our music; our way of life; our languages; our hospitality; our politics; our leadership; our religions; people's perceptions of who and what we are; as well as our hurts and emotions.
I will also go with the sentiments expressed by my brother and friend, Ibrahim Mohammed Awal, the MD of Graphic Communications Group at the recent lecture organised by the Institute of Public Relations, under the theme, 'Re-positioning the Brand: National and Corporate Considerations'; and as well commend the setting up of the national Brand Ghana Secretariat.
Indeed, it was for this that we invited the Secretariat's CEO to be part of this Workshop and deliver the paper you just heard.
For me, the exploits of our sportsmen and women from the period of Gold Coast, pre-independence to date from Mike Ahey, Alice Anum, Floyd Robertson, Joe Tetteh, Azumah Nelson, D. K. Poison, the Black Stars Team that held Real Madrid F/C to a pulsating 3-3 draw, C. K. Gyamfi, Osei Kofi, Aggrey Fynn, Edward Acquah, Abedi Pele Ayew, 'Abetifi Mustang', Mohammed Polo and many others not mentioned have all helped by their exploits in the field of sports to add value to the brand GHANA.
Outside sports, we can look at such personalities as Dr. Kwame Nkrumah, whose centenary we have celebrated this year, H. E. Kofi Annan, Alex Quaison-Sackey, Dr. Robert Gardiner, Emmanuel Amoako of the ECA, Cardinal Peter Kojo Appiah Turkson, and Prof. Allotey, who have all also added value to the brand GHANA by their exploits of international dimensions.
Satellites' Value Added Exploits
It is in this context that we should place the magnitude of the impact of the recent triumph of the Black Satellites at the FIFA Under-20 World Cup, Egypt 2009 Championship, especially considering the manner in which the finals was played and won against Brazil with 10-men for more than 80 minutes of the game.
The value of this achievements and the premium it has added in enhancing this brand can only be left for posterity to determine.
Legacy Of Germany 2006 World Cup
Again, the legacy of the Black Stars' performance at the last FIFA World Cup, Germany 2006 and the fulfillment of Roger Milla's prophesy that the world had seen nothing of the beauty and flair of the African Football Play with his country, Cameroon's performance till the day of the arrival of the Black Stars, Ghana's National Team - is also a critical part of the enhancement of the same branding.
The 2010 World Cup Platform What the key assignment is for me and all of us, is how to manage the performance of Ghana's second appearance at the South Africa 2010 World Cup to further achieve part of the goals for the setting up of the Brand GHANA Secretariat and for all the reasons that in the past decade or two, we have all been so conscious of branding and the need to re-position this brand.
There cannot be a better platform and timing for us as a people than the South Africa 2010 World Cup, an instant and willing TV audience of over 45 billion cumulative, 208 countries, one tournament staged for the first time on the African continent: what more can we ask?
The onus is on all of us, not just the Ghana Football Association (GFA), the Ministry of Youth and Sports or the Government but most importantly, Corporate Ghana – the ultimate beneficiary of all these brand enhancements to reach fort and support this enterprise to maximize the diverse and multiple benefits therefrom.
Trade & Investment Roadshows
One of the major benefits to accrue to Corporate Ghana, through piggy-backing on Ghana's second appearance at South Africa 2010 World Cup is through the hosting and organisation of trade and investment roadshows in the city or cities that the team will be based for the period of the tournament.
If what happened at Germany 2006 World Cup is any indicator of what we should expect then there will be an influx of mass of people of all nationalities, officials and guests of both FIFA and CAF following the exploits of the team, and most importantly the world media to capture all scenes related to Ghana for global audience.
Thus, any utilization of this platform will offer us more than a unique platform to showcase not only brand GHANA but also optimize the exposure to be offered for the following activities:-
Traditional Ghanaian Cuisine / Food, Cultural & Musical Expo I
t will be important that for the period of Ghana's participation in the 2010 World Cup, we are able to host and organise a Traditional Ghanaian Cuisine / Food, Cultural & Musical Expo to showcase this part of our life or brand to the world in conjunction with the Ghana High Commission to South Africa.
It should be possible for the Ministry of Youth and Sports to coordinate this programme with the various stakeholders involved, including the MUSIGA, the National Commission of Culture, the Traditional Caterers Association and the Ministry of Chieftaincy.
It should again be possible for this expo to include a session on Arts & Crafts, Textiles, Beads and Jewelry that reflect the depth and diversity of our cultural industries to the world, and I have no doubt in my mind whatsoever that we could earn a sizeable foreign exchange from the influx of international supporters who will follow the exploits of the team as well as from curious South Africans.
Showcasing Ghana's Tourism & Sports Tourism Potentials
The Ministry of Tourism, the Ghana Tourist Board, the Museums & Monuments Board, the Ghana Hoteliers Association, the Ghana Travel & Tours Association, and the Ghana Tour Guides Association should be able to coordinate an exposition that will showcase Ghana's tourism potentials in the host city / cities of the Black Stars with various packages, well-documented and supported with colourful brochures.
Again, this is the opportunity for the National Sports Council and the Ghana Tourist Board to present Ghana as Africa's preferred sports events destination to the world, following our successful hosting and organisation of the following events:-
The 11th African Youth Football Championship, Ghana '99; The 22nd Africa Cup of Nations, Ghana 2000 Football Championship; The 26th MTN Africa Cup of Nations, Ghana 2008 Football Championship; and The 9th AfHF Hockey Africa Cup for Nations, Ghana 2009 Championship. There cannot be any better platform than the South Africa 2010 World Cup to showcase all the sporting facilities we have acquired through these events to buttress our position as one of the leaders for Sports Tourism in Africa.
Maybe, this should be the beginning of a closer collaboration between the Ghana Tourist Board, the National Sports Council, the Ghana Football Association (GFA), and the Ghana League Clubs Association (GHALCA) to promote domestic tourism through the various football leagues in the country.
Trade & Investment Exposition
Our drive to promote trade and investment in the country, I am confident will be boosted by a concerted effort by all stakeholders to join the train of GHANA FOR SOUTH AFRICA 2010 with a joint Trade & Investment Exposition at the host city / cities of the Black Stars.
I am looking at the possibility of the showcase including segments for our Oil & Gas Opportunities, Ghana Chocolate Fair, and Mining - looking at the quantum of current South African interests in the country.
It will thus be critical for the Ministry of Trade & Industry, the Association of Ghana Industries (AGI), the Ghana National Chamber of Commerce & Industry (GNCCI), the Ghana Free Zones Board (GFZB) and the Ghana Export Promotion Council (GEPC) amongst others to manage this for maximum effect.
I would also wish to challenge some metropolitan assemblies to use the platform offered by the World Cup to tag along and promote their areas as well.
Attracting South Africa Investors
Recently, the Ghana Investment Promotion Centre (GIPC) undertook a successful business trip to South Africa and this is to be applauded.
I am, however persuaded that using the platform of the 2010 World Cup to showcase the various investment packages and opportunities available in the country, would re-position the GIPC to the new realization of the uniqueness of the international football platform for such enterprise.
It will critical for the GIPC to join the GHANA FOR SOUTH AFRICA 2010 in collaboration with Brand GHANA Secretariat to synchronise and manage the entire campaign effectively and efficiently in order to optimize the returns that would accrue to us as a nation and people.
Most importantly, I would relish the possibility of say, the New Times Corporation, the Graphic Communications Group and other private media houses running special editions of their publication, either daily or weekly for distribution in South Africa at the team's host city / cities during the tournament as part of this special campaign, when the world cup is hosted for the first time and possibly for the next two decades in Africa. This will also afford the world to see the extent of the development and growth of our media.
Currently, there are a number of supporters groups operating in the country, including the Nationwide Supporters Union (NSU), and the Millennium Supporters Union (MUSUGA) – all desiring to go to South Africa to support the Black Stars.
Considering all the restrictions that the FIFA World Cup brand places on a number of possibilities, it would be prudent that in sourcing for sponsorship to make the trip, advice is sought from the requisite authorities so that none falls foul of the FIFA anti-ambush marketing drive against wear for the various stadia for mass of supporters.
Advisory Services For Supporters
In this regard, finalist national associations, including the GFA, are strongly urged to set up organised centres in South Africa to which supporters may congregate between their team's matches.
I want to believe also that the South Africa High Commission will set up an advisory service in the country to provide supporters with information on their laws, codes of behaviour and local customs.
South African Companies Operating In Ghana & Social Responsibilities
The 2010 South Africa World Cup is a fine opportunity for South Africa companies operating in the country to be at their corporate best and budget for the tournament to cater for support for the Black Stars as well as loyal customers and staff, under corporate social responsibility for the 2010 financial year.
First, permit me to admit that I lack the finesse, expertise and even the courage to do justice to the topic that is why I opted for the easy way out with an overview, just thoughts of how I think we should as a people look at Ghana's second appearance at the World Cup. I have always held the view that football offers us more than just enjoying a passion that binds more as a nation during moments of international exploits of our national teams. I believe, granted the opportunity, we will begin to see and appreciate the other immense possibilities that such events as the World Cup offer us to enhance the brand Ghana and grow our businesses locally.