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25.11.2005 Feature Article

“Choices”- Lift up your Country or Bring it Down?

“Choices”- Lift up your Country or Bring it Down?
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On Tuesday, November 1st the highly respected and fiercely independent Financial Times had a special feature on Ghana. It has been suggested that every serious investor reads the FT before getting on the plane to Ghana “blue – chip companies” will have digested every bit of the information in the FT. Although there were slight factual inaccuracies in the reporting which I pointed out to the FT (Dino Mahtani) overall it was a fair, objective and analytical assessment of our country Impact of Financial Times Report The impact and significance of the FT report was highlighted at an investors meeting that I attended on 10th November at Chelmsford – “Business Opportunities in Jiangsu, China”. Mr. Wang Qui Jing, Vice President of the Nanjing Automotive Corporation in China and the new owners of MG Rover in UK addressed the audience of prospective investors. Although wearing my Luton and UK hat, . I managed to impress upon Mr. Jing the benefits of his company investing in a motor manufacturing assembly plant in Ghana. Mr. Jing responded by stating that he knows all about our country and he has read the feature in the FT. Special Report on Ghana Summary of Financial Times Report

I do not intend to add /subtract or comment on what the report said. I leave readers to make up their own minds and decide whether our country is on the right path and need supporting and promoting or whether bashing it, devaluing it and bringing it down is the best way forward.

1 Negotiations and Diplomacy
On Negotiation and Diplomacy the FT report “Nurturing a Culture of Negotiation” had this to say about our country:

“Ghana's selection as a non – permanent member of the UN Security Council in October 2005. …….. is more likely a recognition of the example it has set to its neighbors”.

“Ghana's democratic credentials and relatively successful economy are helping it to stand out as a credible force in West African politics. The aim is to spread the effects of its stability throughout the region.”

“Mr. Kufuor is well known to his neighbors, having visited many ….. his cordial relations will hold him in good stead for a possible future appointment as Head of the African Union “

2 Military
On the Role of the Military the FT report headed Army with unparallel regional reputation had this to say about our country:

“The widespread recognition of the country's contribution to UN missions and ECOMOG operations had done much to boost morale. The reputation of Ghanaian soldiers is unparallel in the region. The country's peacekeepers were the only troops in Rwanda who stayed on during the genocide in 1992. Whereas other African Governments have sometimes contributed soldiers who were ill-prepared for UN missions, Ghanaians can be relied upon to be well trained and adequately equipped says Margaret Novicki Special Adviser at the Kofi Annan International Peace Keeping Centre in Accra”

3 Infrastructure
On Provision of Urgently Needed Services the FT report had this to say about our country

“Ghana's infrastructure network is at worst in areas less noticeable to the outside investor and no doubt more difficult to tackle, such as the provision of basic services to the growing urban population “

“Achievements in the telecommunication and road network and infrastructure barely scratch the surface of the massive infrastructure problems that remain to be resolved “.

“The most significant problem for the health of the population is water and sanitation. Only half of the rural dwellers have access to good drinking water”.

4 Diversification
On diversification and the performance of the Economy the FT report had this to say about our country

“Returned for a second and final term last December Mr. Kufuor has been a reassuring presence, strengthening Ghana's image as a haven in a volatile neighborhood. Its recent period of stability is unprecedented since independence and exceptional in Tropical Africa.”

“But Ghana's performance is also a source of frustration falling short of its promise. - With many Ghanaians seeing little or no visible improvement in living standards.”

“The apparent growth barrier is subject to different interpretations. Is it because the free- market reforms are the wrong medicine? Or is it that the dose has not been large enough? The golden age of business Mr. Kufuor once proclaimed has failed to materialize as rapidly as many hoped”

“Mr. Kufour's opponents accuse him of nepotism and ethnic favoritism the impact of stronger growth is mixed. Figures for extreme poverty show Ghana on course to meeting the target set under the UN's Millennium Development Goals – halving the 1990 rate by 2015. But some indicators for health and nutrition have been getting worse”.

“In common with a number of others in Africa, Ghana's Government is struggling with popular expectations it created when it was elected to power and has so far been unable to meet.”

5 Tourism
On Tourism, the FT report headed untapped wealth of the gorgeous and the gruesome, the report had this to say about our country

“Accra is hot, polluted city, more notable for its slums than its historic buildings and whose roads are grid locked for much of the day. Its older buildings are crumbling and neglected. The country has nevertheless been quietly building a significant tourism industry. Ghana plays host to 650,000 tourists a year. But beyond the capital lies an untapped wealth of attractions centering on the country's cultural; and political history.”

“Tourism, which is growing at a rate of 15 percent a year and is now the third biggest export earner has finally moved to the top of the Government agenda”.

6 Job Creation
On Job Creation the FT report had this to say about our country

“The northern suburbs of Accra tell contrasting stories . Close to the smart addresses is the jumble of shanties making up Nima , Maamobi and New Town, a migrant ghetto of narrow alleys and open drains , notorious for gangs of youths and home to about 150,000.Relentless urbanization has brought a shift in patterns of poverty” .

“Acute poverty – income of less than $1 a day has fallen from 51% in the early 1990s to 35 percent in 2003”

“One of Ghana's biggest challenges..…is creating formal-sector jobs and providing services for its growing urban population. In President Kufuor's first 4-year term growth last year inched up to 5.8% the highest for 16 Years . In the World Economic Forum 's competitiveness rankings Ghana has moved up in the past 2 years from 71st to 59th place , top in West Africa and similar to countries like Turkey and Poland.

7 Democratic Experiment
On our democratic experiment the FT report had this to say about our country –

“Ghana is a rare example of a maturing democratic culture in West Africa . The climate of politics since 2000 is in sharp contrast to the years of military rule under Jerry Rawlings who led bloody purges against his opponents and undertook unpopular austerity measures before facing domestic and international pressure to hold elections in 1992”

“While Ghana is ranked one of the least corrupt countries in Africa its corruption perception rating has slipped Underpinning the developments in Ghanaian politics is the lingering presence of Mr. Rawlings. His peaceful exit from politics was necessary to guarantee soft treatment by the country's National reconciliation Commission . Whilst his infamous 64th Battalion has been diluted after he left power his anti- establishment tone will reverberate through sections of the military particularly if the NPP can not shake of its self serving perception” .

8 Northern part of Ghana
On the social and economic situation of the Northern Region- Failure to address imbalances the FT report had this to say about our country

“The indications are that the North , home to about a fifth of Ghana's population has continued to fall – further behind overshadowed by the threat of intermittent internal violence.” Poverty rates in the north are more than double than those in the South “.

“Fewer than 4 percent of girls complete secondary school and 47 percent of girls between 6 and 17 had never attended school at all. In health the situation is bleaker . Infant mortality is sharply higher than elsewhere and until recently Upper West had just 10 doctors for 6000,000”

This is just a snapshot and a summary of the real facts and situation in our country not embellished by me nothing added or taken just quotes. Your Choice-Promote of demote your country Most of us who can read, write and have access to good drinking water and a roof over our heads, are extremely blessed as compared to the 47% of our sisters in the North between the ages of 6-17 who had never set foot in a classroom. What we do with our Blessings is up to us. However, a little illustration will state where I stand on the choices issue.

My nephew Mark Kufuor a final year student at Liverpool Medical School did a short stint at Korle Bu Hospital this year. Whilst in Accra he paid a visit to family, folks and elders at Nkawie.

Church Members, elders and folks requested financial assistance towards the roofing of St Justin's Church. Like all good young citizens of Ghana on his return to Huyton, in Liverpool he informed his local church and through some generous and sacrificial giving the church at Huyton managed to raise £3,000. This money (62 million cedis) was presented to the local village church in Nkawie last 2 weeks as the contribution of Mark's church in Huyton, Liverpool to the roofing of our village church.

The story would have no meaning as in my view this is a widows mite as our late Uncles, Father's, Cousins, and present wonderful Nkawie folks led by our Auntie, Ms Comfort Brobbey have been doing a brilliant job in holding the church together. Typical response It is the remarks and comments of some intelligent, educated and highly paid Ghanaians who never contribute a cedi to any good Ghanaian cause, never have a good word for their country folks and actually pollute the minds of some generous benefactors which get under my nose. A few of them said to me You keep wasting your time “ menua omo bedi sika no ”- My friend they will chop it . Choices My answer was simple: We all have choices We can market our good folks back home as decent, honorable , kind and caring people who deserves a helping hand from the rich folks in the west or we can continue to bash our country degrade, humiliate, talk down and deter investors and good folks in the West giving generously. The choice is ours .

We can either continue the 'Ghanaian psyche' of Pull him down (PHD) syndrome by polluting and confusing the minds of generous benefactors in the West or like young Mark we can contribute our widows mite. My Plea My plea to Ghanaians in the Diaspora is simple: - anytime we open our mouth, take up a pen or pencil to write, determine our budget priorities we must think, reflect and remember the: 47% of girls in the North who will never fulfill their hopes/aspirations/dreams , the 2.5 million unemployed, the 48% of rural folks with no access to good drinking water, the unaccountable children living on the streets, the hundreds of young girls from the North undertaking kaya kaya jobs in Accra and Kumasi, the grinding and harsh daily poverty which is the lot of most of our people.

For me, the choice is simple: yes there are unscrupulous, greedy and outright con artists within our society . But within the same segment of society we have fine, decent , honorable , God – fearing folks who need our support. No matter how we embellish it, a big chunk of our people are living in conditions that can only be described as “hell on earth”.

The choice to lift up you country or bring it down is yours – the e- commerce and electronic media have made it easier to destroy, tarnish and bring your country down in a matter of minutes. The choice is ours..

God Bless our Country
Appiah-Danquah, Kufuor Views expressed by the author(s) do not necessarily reflect those of GhanaHomePage.

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