IN RECENT weeks, the Minister of Public Sector Reform, Dr. Paa Kwesi Nduom, has on several occasions commended the efforts of the Ghanaian team, which designed, refined and negotiated the country's Millennium Challenge Account (MCA) Programme, working in great collaboration with their counterparts at the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC).
The Minister's high commendation of the Ghanaian team were in his Statement to Parliament on the Ghana Millennium Challenge Account Compact on Friday, 12th July and in his address at the national launch of the Millennium Challenge Ghana Programme at Abeka, Accra, on 16th August. .
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He noted that the 30-man group, officially referred to as the MCC's Ghana Project Team, included representatives from the Ministry of Justice & Attorney General's, the Ministry of Transportation, the Ministry of Food & Agriculture, the Ministry of Lands, Forestry & Mines, the Ministry of Finance & Economic Planning, and the Office of the President. Other group members were from the private sector and included economists, engineers, land experts, lawyers, financial analysts and ICT specialists.
It took that team, led by Mr. Mathew Armah (Project Manager), two years to go through varied and tedious collaborative processes, design a draft Programme, refine same, and successfully negotiate the Programme with the MCC - a process which led to the signing of the Ghana MCA Compact in Washington, DC, USA, on 1st August this year.
Dr. Paa Kwesi Nduom, Leader of Ghana's MCA Special Task Force for the past two years and currently Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Millennium Development Authority (MiDA), consistently refers to the 30-man MCC's Ghana Project Team as "a group of very special professionals."
One cannot agree more with Dr. Nduom's assertion. Members of the team may have started off as mere 'professionals' or even as 'special professionals' when they begun the MCA assignment two years ago. But having gone through the two-year processes of consultations, programme design and, finally, having successfully undertaken very hardnosed international-level negotiations, the team members certainly sharpened their expertise to become, or be close to being, "very special professionals."
Now that the deal is done, now that the Ghana MCA Compact is signed and delivered, how can we bring lessons learnt in that process to bear on our national development?
No doubt, the professionals involved in the MCA Programme will have their future endeavours impacted upon by lessons learnt from the MCA process. No doubt, some may refer to their MCA experiences in public lectures they deliver, at forums they attend and during professional discussions.
All the above will impart important lessons of the MCA experience to the general Ghanaian public, to professional peers and subordinates and to students of diverse fields.
All that will make essential contributions to our learning process. But we need to go beyond that: we need to consolidate the process on a practical and national basis.
For example, an official documented critique of the MCA process from the viewpoint of the Ghanaian team should bring to the fore those positive material and human attributes that drove and quickened the pace of the endeavour as well as the negative attributes that stalled and delayed it.
We need to develop from such passionate critique a road-map that will assist us reach our goal quicker and easier in future journeys akin to the MCA process or in sourcing funding for other development programmes. Such a road-map should come with clearly indicated mind-sets and attitudes, data and logistics, as well as human expertise and skills essential for putting future processes quickly on track, and pushing it firmly forward.
The envisaged road-map and its attachments can be clearly put to effective use on the national, regional, district and community levels. District assemblies, ministries, educational institutions and professional bodies could, for example, set up teams of professionals tasked with preliminary work on MCA-type Programmes that could become beneficiaries of similar initiatives by other developed nations.
The envisaged teams, guided by the road-map, should help provide solutions to problems that face us in many sectors including agriculture, energy, education and health. We need sector-by-sector draft-prints that could be quickly refined and negotiated.
On the agricultural front, issues such as rice, sugar and stable food production; export focused production; and value-addition to primary products need to be addressed. On the energy front are issues such as additional generation; alternate sources of energy; and effective distribution. Education has problems such as lack of adequate human resources and material infrastructure; and the crucial need for enhanced ITC education. On the health front are issues including the continuing exodus of health personnel; inadequacy of infrastructure; the menaces of malaria and of HIV -AIDS.
The list of issues and sectors from which they emerge goes on and on. We need to kick start designs of far-reaching programmes aimed at addressing the problems we face. We need such programmes to push forward the development agenda of our country.
Those designs and programmes need to be founded on comprehensive research and backed by intensive, broad-based consultations; they need the expertise of various professionals and the co-coordinating efforts of tried and tested team-players.
The experiences gained by the Ghanaians who designed, refined and negotiated the MCA Compact should be put to good use and become a very meaningful MCA fringe benefit.