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03.01.2003 Feature Article

Management Resources: The Solution To Ghana's Myriad Problems

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Part One In the light of our President's New Year Speech I wish to congratulate him for the good work that he has done so far as the head of GHANA PLC giving the very difficult problems he has to grapple with. As a son of Ghana who is also a concerned citizen, I just wish to make a few suggestion and a humble contribution to our nation's national development. It has been almost 46 years since the country's independence from colonial administration. Despite significant investments in critical infrastructural projects in Education, Health, Communications, Agriculture, State Governance i.e. Civil Service, State institutions, Organisations and Agencies at the local, district, regional and national level, to facilitate sustainable national economic development, everyone I know and have met agrees with me that the welfare and economic wellbeing of a significant majority of our countrymen is growing from bad to worse. Without even wishing to make any reference to the Quality Grain Scandal,we Ghanaians, both at home and in the diaspora, understand very well how mismanagement, Corruption, fraud and maladministration by elected politicians, government officials, state employees at national, regional, district and local levels, has resulted in a serious deteroriation and in most cases a total breakdown in the proper management of national institutions and assets. A good example is the current deplorable state of our roads, schools, hospitals, dams, bridges, rivers, industrial capacity and worse of all the general decay in the environment and sanitation of our cities, towns and villages. Over the past 10 years or more, with our current sad state of national finances which has ensured that enough internal funds cannot be generated for national economic, the country has slowly been acquring loans from foreign governments and donor organisations to create, rebuild and reinstate the decayed projects that were lost primarily due to lack of MANAGEMENT. The government has to be congratulated for recreating all these projects again and decentralizing the of government to ensure benefits to majority of the country's population living in the rural areas. Having said that I would like to add that however laudable these efforts, unless the country's current and future governments wake up and address the critical element of proper management of institutions and resources as part of a governance strategy, current and future projects and resources will once again go to waste. It is a well understood and known concept that for anything to function properly and last, it needs to be managed and maintaines. The Science or art of management has been in existence for thousands of years and and Ghana, our country has reputable institutions which are supposedly training professional managers and administrators for the national economy. But to use the word "traumatic" to describe the current quality or lack of management of the country's institutions, critical infrastructure and processes is not out of place. The sad state of affairs after 46 years of "self rule" can be found in every state organisation, city, Town and Village up and down the Country. Ghana has become a place where nothing works anymore. A place where no one is in charge of ensuring that the street lights from our national airport to the centre of our capital city functions properly at all times, or where open spaces and grounds in our premier University cannot be maintained, planted and cleaned on a regular basis, or a place where the local primary school in Accra I attended, and left in 1973 had not seen a lick of paint for 28 years, not to talk about leaking roof, lack of sanitation, furniture and text books. I once asked my self if this is allowed to happen in the national Capital then God help my fellow citizens in Bunkpurungu. As all management expertise know, no doubt many Ghanaians included, the job of management can cover many different tasks and functions but underlying it is the idea of somebody taking responsibility for the proper function of processes, projects and tasks. We still currently racking our brains to figure out how Countries like South Korea, Malaysia and Mauritius, our co equals 45 years ago have blazed the trail of eceonomic development and left us far behind. I believe their ability not only to build, acquire or throw money at problems, but to manage what they have properly and efficiently is the key. The country's problems can eventually be resolved if elected political leaders with WILL POWER AND GOODWILL, begin to understand that not everyone can be a manager. People cannot be put in charge of things because they are relatives, friends or acquaintances. Appointed Managers must at least have the basic qualities and possess attributes such as mental, physical, moral, education, experience as well as the critical elements of special knowledge of the subject area. Having experienced customercare in Ghana at firsthand several times at the hands of state institutions, like Government Ministries, Customs & Excise, The Police Local & Planning Authorities, Educational and Health Authorities, I keep asking myself the same question over and over again why is no one taking responsibility for the proper funtioning of these institutions, why is there no policy or procedure manual for the benefit of the general public, to advise how to seek redress when aggrieved. Why are we still putting for example doctors in charge of managing hospitals and pilots in charge of managing national airline. Why are we putting farmers in charge of managing towns and cities or why are we putting mechanics in charge of ensuring management of sanitation and drains and why are we giving responsibility for managing banks to pastors. I am sure you heard the one about the Bank Manager who bolted with millions of cedis of customers money These are the reasons why I am finding every element of national infrastructure even falling into further decay than I experienced previously. I am not a Cynic, but tell me if I am wrong, some people have suggested that, the situation has deliberatively allowed to fester at the expense of 20 million Ghanaians, by a few thousand people, some call them Vampire Elites, who have turned these institutions into personal fiefdoms to milk the state to their maximum personal advantage. When they are put in charge of managing anything they deliberately create obstacles and difficulties, fail to provide information to the general public to impede the objectives and ask for bribes to enrich themselves. I believe the failures the past 46 years makes me understand that it does not require a degree in rocket science to understand that we need properly trained, motivated professional managers who are properly supervised and monitored to perform all this tasks satisfactorily before all our efforts go to waste again. It does not also take rocket science to understand that Continuing to borrow to fund infrastructral projects that will eventually fail due to lack of management expertise is not only a serious mistake but extremely wasteful and does not make economic sense. All the loans and donor support are needed but if not put to good use then It should be noted that less than 100 years ago in December 1907 , the Gold Coast Colony, Ashanti and the Northern Territories had a public debt of £2,206,964. Compare that figure to Ghana's present external debt of over $ 6, billion dollars. WHAT MUST BE DONE If truly this is the case it is the ultimate responsibility of government to manage the country and deliver relief to our impoverish citizens. They must put into place a framework of root and branch reform of all institutions at the national, regional, district and local levels of our national economy and put competent, accountable, properly monitored and supervised managers well trained for the tremendous tasks that we are currently facing. I am proposing the setting up of a Management Improvement and Development Agency ( A Government Inspectorate) staffed by the best managerial brains in the land from the private sector and approved Consultants to do the following for a limited period of time. 1) Undertake a Management Audit of all state Organisations including the Civil Service and District Assemblies. 2) Provide Support and help in updating, preparing Policies & Procedures, making them available to the general public. The policies should provide information on service quality, responsibilities, grievance and disciplinary procedures. 3) It should set up appropriate training programmes for existing managers to update their skills in staff managements, budgeting, strategic planning 4) Establish frameworks for the regular appraisal of key competencies of Senior Management so they can continuously improve their knowledge and skills to enable them manage resources properly. CONCLUSION Poverty reduction in a country such as ours, which is a key government policy requires particular patterns of economic growth, and institutional structures, of which the main components are firstly, rural development in general, setting up of labour intensive small and medium scale industries and the enhancement of its productivity and incomes. All these elements will require proper management of the various components at all levels of the national economy. If we fail to recognise management resource as a fundamaental and key element of our national development effort, all the current buzz words sustainable development, capacity building, poverty alleviation and reduction, and above all the GOLDEN AGE OF BUSINESS will all remain pipe dreams. Many Thanks. Stephen Nyako Management Consultant

Stephen Nyako
Stephen Nyako, © 2003

The author has 15 publications published on Modern Ghana. Column Page: StephenNyako

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