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21.11.2005 Feature Article

Kufuor, You can fool some people some time, but ...

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... you cannot fool all of the people all of the time President Kufuor has made over 100 foreign trips, in the five years of his presidency. Over 60% of them were billed as “trade & investment” trips. His latest trip caused outrage in some sections of the community, because he went with a 48-member delegation on a US$400,000 trip to watch a video of Ghana in US. Is the president being targeted unfairly? Below is a list of sectors where Ghana needed investment during Kufuor/NPP tenure. Let's examine if Ghana's chief investment officer's trips has been worth it. 1) Airline Industry Ghana Airways folded up and Ghana was desperately looked for investors hi & lo to no avail. Eventually, it was replaced by a new company, Ghana International Airlines. The new airline is a “joint” venture between the government of Ghana and Ralph Atkin of Utah with Ghana doing all the investing. Ralph is only responsible for management, but owns 30% of the company How come no investors like, Richard Branson (Virgin Airline UK), came to our rescue Where were the investors when we needed them the most?

2) Textile Industry Juapong Textiles was closed down, 1400 lost their jobs and a whole town dependent on the industry came to a halt. After a trip to Mauritius in 2003, Kufuor claimed an investor planned to invest $1 million in our textile industry. Our textile industry has completely collapsed. Where are the investors when we need them the most? 3) Valco When Kaiser Aluminium gave up its 90% stake in the Volta Aluminium Company (VALCO), the Ghana govt had to buy it. Alcoa, who owned 10% of kaisar's stake did not increase their stake, but just sat on the sideline. http://www.ghanaweb.com/GhanaHomePage/NewsArchive/artikel.asp?ID=48678 Another case of the nation badly needing private investment, but falling short. 4) Telecommunication …. After throwing out the Malaysians, the Kufuor administration put out an ad for investors for Ghana Telecom (GT). Not a single foreign company came up with a bid. The best the nation got was a management agreement with “zero financial investment” from Telenor Management Partners (not to be confused with -- Norway's telecommunications company Telenor) has not made in GT. The agreement does not confer financial responsibility on the Norwegian telecommunication company Where were the investors resulting from Wofa JAKs trips? 5) Railway Industry It's obvious we need to improve (actually rehaul) our railway industry. After initial skirmished with United “419” Rail, we are now depending on World bank/IMF loans to build the Accra-tema line. Kufuor's trip to India talked of investors for the rail industry. Where are they when we need them the most? 6) Salt Industry One of Kufuor first trips abroad took him to Salt lake City, USA. On his return there was a lot of noise about investors coming in their numbers to upgrade our salt industry That was 5 years ago…. Mr. Kufuor, where are they? 7) Rubber Industry Why has Kufuor not been able to get an American tire company to run the Bonsa Rubber Estates? Firestone did a fine job there when we turned over the project to the govt. 8) Tourism According to the government, 760,000 visited the country last year and the figure is expected to grow to 800,000. What the government refused (or forgot) to tell the people of Ghana is that over 86% of these “tourists” are Ghanaians returning home for vacation with their family. A proper analysis of the situation will prove we have more “tourists” because more and more Ghanaian are leaving the country Wofa JAK, where are the real tourists? Conclusion I'm indebted to a Ghanaian for the following point: It is a common human trait that anytime one invites friends or family to visit at home, one makes sure his/her home is properly cleaned. Most spend a little to beautify their homes for such a visit. Washrooms are always squeaky clean, curtains/drapes and dishes are washed. But did Ghana's president Kufuor do any such housecleaning before embarking on his 're-branding of Ghana' trip to the States. What would tourists think when they start going to Ghana by next week? The state of Ghana's environment would make them think that African leaders are ******. Many business people have come to Ghana before.... the problem for Ghana is the embedded culture of corruption and other bad practices which always frustrate investors of any color. Over to you JAK! Views expressed by the author(s) do not necessarily reflect those of GhanaHomePage.

Kojo Opoku
Kojo Opoku, © 2005

The author has 35 publications published on Modern Ghana. Column Page: KojoOpoku

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