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12.07.2006 Africa

Dr Busia's Vision For Africa

By TIMES-Kwateboi Owoo
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Four decades after Ghana's former Prime Minister, Professor Kofi Abrefa Busia, called for an increase in Africa's share of global trade, the continent today still contributes only 1.1 per cent to global trade thus he has been vindicated says Dr. Akwasi Aidoo, a director of Trust Africa Foundation, an independent philanthropic organization based in New York.

“The current trend of global economy and Africa's marginalization is a vindication of Professor Busia's call,” he said, delivering the Third Busia Memorial Lecture under the topic, “The challenges of Africa's development and the relevance of Professor Busia”.

The 55-minute lecture was to share the philosophy and vision of Professor Busia to accelerate the developmental agenda of Africa, and Ghana in particular.

Dr. Aidoo recalled that in the 1960s, Prof. Busia called for an African place in the world and regretted that African leaders had failed to pursue this development agenda, resulting in a pathetic 1.1 per cent of global trade and the increasing dependence on aid and vulnerability to the many manipulations of aid- givers.

Quoting Professor Busia, Dr Aidoo said: “The obstacles in our way are many and enormous, not the least of which is that global economics is marked by a fiercely competitive game. But we must never forget the fact that even if the rest of the world stood aside for us, we would still get nowhere unless and until we improve the cost of doing business in Africa.

“That is the plain truth, and it raises many uncomfortable policy issues regarding monetary and fiscal policies, the control of parastatal institutions, exchange rate regimes among others.”

Prof. Busia, he said, pursued his vision although some of his ideas were very unpopular at the time, because he believed that the business of governance should never be conducted as a popularity contest.

The late premier's conviction about development without the rural folks he said, led to the establishment of a Ministry of Rural Development which was received with ridicule but he still went ahead to institute indigenous languages as the medium of instruction in Ghanaian schools.

Dr. Aidoo said the former prime minister believed that no society could develop using a foreign language that only a small fraction of its citizens understood, spoke and wrote.

“Although there was no time to fully implement Busia's local language policy, it is proven today, that a child learns quickest through the mother-tongue which is also the best and closest link between school and home.

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