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17.05.2004 Feature Article

Ghana: Foreign Investment-The Misconceptions

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As I always do, I was scanning the web when I run into the article titled, “Workshop to promote contributions of Ghanaians in Diaspora Opens”, posted on Ghanaweb,

I could not help but feel sorry that such a topic brought people together. It is a great misconception that the Ghanaians abroad want something other than what their brothers and sisters want back home.

Many in the Diaspora have strong ties to siblings, spouses, friends and others back home, so an attempt to identify specifically what could promote confidence for them to either invest in the economy, or to return, is evidence of poor judgment on the part of government and civil society. It is an elusive concept, which needs to be dropped from the development agenda of the government. Ghanaians in the Diaspora can enjoy what is good for their brothers and sisters, and as investors can take advantage of a good investment climate for locals or foreigners. It is that simple. They do not need any special facility.

The simple answer is to create conditions that satisfy the Ghanaian populace internally. Meaning that those in the Diaspora, will feel confident to do anything in Ghana, for as long as their immediate contacts in the country, be it family or friends pay testimony to the improved conditions back home.

No special facility can supercede the power of word of mouth testimony, and it is from this position that I state that this talk of creating the “right conditions for those in the Diaspora” is a waste of time and energy.

If it is for business or investment purposes, fix the internal processes. Create and continue to improve upon the framework for establishing a business, educate the masses on the process with respect to where to go etc., and let it work for those who are living in the country.

That would be the real testimony that many outside are looking for. Systems that are clear, well defined and are consistent in their delivery of a desired outcome.

After years of talk, there is still a lot of chaos associated with doing business that requires government approval. This is what separates the West from our third world. The lack of structure, information, and systems that are established, tested, and monitored for process enhancement in all public sector services.

Looking at mobilizing funds from Ghanaians in the Diaspora is senseless, based on the position that if you are not taking care of my brothers and sisters back home, as a government or people, what do you need my assistance for?

The Government needs to stay clear of this thinking, and rather shift its priority to create the conditions that motivate the local citizens, and make them feel that the bureaucratic red tape system is gone, and all the investment Ghana needs will come.

Investors want to see locals doing well, as it is a sign of prosperity, thus they can feel safe to participate. As an investor, if all around you there is no one like you, but rather strife, and anguish, it is not a good feeling and serves as a deterrent to future investment

Let us not forget that attracting money into the country from Ghanaians in Diaspora is not an issue, as they will send money to relatives and friends. To attempt to channel these funds into investment funds is also useless, as until the local recipients have a means of making a decent living, without solely relying on the remittances, those remittances simply become chop money. This is a direct result of the conditions on the ground.

Money will move away from direct consumption to investment when the domestic economy is performing well, there are jobs and other sources of income for those who rely on remittances now to practically live. Also, when the friends and family of those in the Diaspora require less from them for day-to-day consumption, the Ghanaians abroad can take on meaningful investment projects back home. So, it all boils down to the performance of the local economy.

Government needs to worry about the Ghanaians doing well now, who still find it unsafe to keep their money in Ghana, and as such choose to send their money abroad. That should be a source of worry and a source of brainstorming. Views expressed by the author(s) do not necessarily reflect those of GhanaHomePage.

Ako Folson
Ako Folson, © 2004

The author has 58 publications published on Modern Ghana. Column Page: AkoFolson

Disclaimer: "The views/contents expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of the author(s) and do not neccessarily reflect those of Modern Ghana. Modern Ghana will not be responsible or liable for any inaccurate or incorrect statements contained in this article."

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