After the summer fracas when the whole world witnessed the scale of the shambles of the sheer incompetence of the old management of Ghana Air, the persistence and forthrightness of one man to ensure that Ghana Air fly again should be commended. And that person is J Ralph Atkin. For Mr Atkin, an American investor, to put his money and faith in a sub-Saharan African country when the rest of the developed world multinationals are deserting the continent in droves shows that in the mist of Africa's problems, there are still friends of Africa who are willing and are prepared to invest in Africa.
With the collapsed of all the major national carriers in the West Africa sub-Region the presence of Ghana Air in the night skies of the Economic Community of West Africa States will be a very welcome relief not only for Ghana and the friends of Ghana but for ECOWAS as a whole.
The presence of J Ralph Atkin, Chief Executive Officer of Ghana Air and a seasoned major airline operator/investor in the United States would assured many travellers both West Africans and other international travellers that the past of Ghana Air is behind us.
Giving the running of Ghana Air to someone who has a wealth of knowledge and experience in the Airline industry, the Kufuor administration had pulled off a major coup that would for ever be associated with the president for saving a lose making airline and turning it into a major player in the sub-region. This is in line with the government's policy of ensuring that the Vision 2020 project is on track.
Although there have been frustrations on both sides during the negotiations to restructured the airline, the team behind this momentous agreement (on both sides) should be congratulated and of course, in every major development of this nature the accolade always goes to the head. This writer was able to gain an unqualified assurance from the Chief Executive Officer, J. Ralph Atkin personally that Ghana Air will fly again.
In a question posed to J. Ralph Atkin about this summer's take off of GIA, and the teething problems that is holding things back, by this writer, Mr Atkin has this to say, "Thank you for your thoughtful comments. It is my hope that our team and investors will have the opportunity to see this project through. There is much hard work ahead and we need the support and encouragement of groups such as yours." Mr Atkin's ambition of turning Kotoka International Airport into a major hub in Africa to rival and equal Johannesburg in South Africa is what makes Ghana Air flying again quite exciting. This will draw more tourists into Ghana and with it generates employment in the tourist industry for our countless citizens who are equally qualified but with no jobs to go to after graduation. By helping to creat employment in both the airline and the tourist industry, come 2020, Mr Atkin's name would be added to those American friends of Africa who helped the turn around of our country into a successful emerging economy.
By associating himself with Ghana Air, and to a larger extent the country itself, Mr Atkin would be helping to publicise the potential of Ghana to other investors around the world and in the long run help bring in huge amount of Foreign Direct Investments. In her quest to achieve middle income status by the year 2020, Ghana would need friends and investors like Mr Atkin to have confidence in our economy before investing in it. Unlike the old Ghana Airways, Mr Atkin would not tolerate waste nor people riding free because they know someone in "higher place" or "so called Big man". The work ethic that Mr Atkin and his team will bring into Ghana Air would define the way business is conducted to achieve prosperity not only for the country and the workers but also for the company as a business entity. This writer is not praising J.Ralph Atkin, but rather emphasing the importance of cutting waste and setting good work practices and that is what Ghana Air needs at this stage. As Ralph Atkin acknowledged, the enthusiasm shown by all sections of the population both in the country and diaspora has impressed him and that alone plus our welcoming attitude is what has driven him to make sure this project succeeds. Mr Atkin is leading by example, showing other investors that Africa is not a lost cause or a basket case and that there is hope in the mist of misery.
The next phase of the government's ambition of attracting investors into the country is to critically examine who to partner the government in running the national railways and perhaps reviving the shipping line "Black Star Line". With the large infow of goods and other heavy machinary pouring into the country from Ghanaians in diaspora and friends/investors having a shipping line carrying the national flag makes sense...however, this writer, knows that in this stage of globalisation, governments all over the world are trying to learn running of businesses to businessmen and rather concentrate on creating the environment that would make conducting business free of bottlenecks. About the issue of productivity and clarity in doing business, two commentators whose contributions on this web page worth mentioning are Ebenezer Banful " PRODUCTIVITY - The Challange of a Nation" and Guy Foxx's " The Messy Triangle - Cal Bank, Databank and the SEC". The two articles set out the basis of which businesses should be conducted and abiding by the rules set up to guide transactions. On Foxx's "Messy Triangle debate, this writer wrote a rejoinder to the first article and linked that in with other debates about fighting corruption and waste including Dr Robert Awuah Baffour's article "Corruption and the way Forward -Ghana at the Crossroads. The quote from Foxx's article which i quoted in my rejoinder to his article about the need not to fail still makes sense,
“These may seem hash words, but let us not wait till 2020 when we have failed to achieve our middle income status goal, to begin asking these questions, for once again, we will look like the fools to the International Community like have looked in the past”.
The future of our homeland is in our own hands. For once we all realise that the development of our country must come first before own personal and selffish acquisition of wealth. Thank God we are all dreaming about the same vision - Vision 2020. For the first time in living memory, despite our differences, every contributor to this web page shares the same dream.......the dream of seeing our homeland making a turn round and becoming an economic powerhouse in sub-Saharan Africa. Ghana Air welcome. AKWAABA. God Bless our Homeland Ghana.
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