28.01.2006 Feature Article

Develop Ghana's Infrastructure and ...

Develop Ghana's Infrastructure and ...
28.01.2006 LISTEN


What is the government of Ghana going to do about Dr. Oheneba Akwasi Amoako, an herbalist in Accra claiming to have a cure for HIV? Harness this human gold and develop its infrastructure or flip it off and resort to the collection of loans?

On January 9, 2006 the World Bank Board of Directors approved a credit of 45 million dollars to support the implementation of micro, small and medium enterprises (MSME) project in Ghana. A release issued by the World Bank said the project was part of a broader poverty reduction and private sector development strategy for Ghana. The release admitted that most businesses in Ghana, which fell within the category of MSME, had suffered a great deal over the last decade resulting in the shifting of focus from entrepreneurship to a proliferation of petty trading nationwide. The project, therefore, aims to invigorate entrepreneurial activities at all levels, thereby promoting growth, employment generation and reducing poverty levels. It also seeks to build an integrated market access and trade facilitation infrastructure while proactively inculcating competitiveness among enterprises. The project is also expected to develop and strengthen, on a sustainable basis, the capacity of local intermediaries to deliver financial and non-financial services to MSMEs and ensure that they make productive use of these services (GNA).

Most businesses in Ghana fall within the category of micro, small and medium enterprises, and with an employment capacity of close to 70 per cent of the Ghanaian labor force. They range from farming, agri-businesses, light manufacturing, art and craft, textile and garments, tourism, financial services, construction business and carpentry, among many other businesses. Giving that growth and employment in Ghana are directly linked to the growth of MSMEs” as the World Bank's Country Director has said, how is our administrators going to ensure that this money gets to the small businesses? Are there any structures in place for Ghanaian banks to genuinely link up to the small Ghanaian businesses to promote more investment and private sector jobs? Who is monitoring these loans and projects? Now the question we need to ask our government is, Will this translate into small business loans for local businesses or end up in per diem allowances?

In response to the article this author wrote on the defects of loans, of which he cautioned the Ghana government to stop turning Ghana into a “charity-begging bowl,” one person reacted that what was written was only good for an academic paper and that we in the Diaspora do not appreciate the problems our government faces. He went on to condemn the Ghana Leadership Union and other Think Tank Ghanaian associations. This only shows how miserable and desperate our policy makers have soon become. Everything they cannot perceive is considered impossible or 'book-long.' This author is confident that the likes of Kennedy do not think the same; they believe that whatever can be perceived can be achieved. This article seeks to debunk the view that visions and ideas are only suitable for academia. This article also wishes to tell our leaders that Ghana's redemption lies in her forgotten and neglected infrastructure like her human gold.

NPR/Morning Edition news on Friday, January 06, 2006 discussed some Mexican immigrants in Chicago who run a scholarship program for Mexicans. The story carried by Carrie Kahn indicated that the Mexican Government has a 3-for-1 program in which the government contributes $3 for every $1 that the US-based immigrants send to Mexico. A similar program (by the GhanaianDiaspora/government) for Ghanaian children might be appropriate. Many of us are a testament to the brain drain that afflicts the African continent. Helping to train our youth is not only a most laudable idea but our god-giving responsibility. However this needs to go hand-in-hand with job creation initiatives by our governments as the rational behind the program hopes that those awarded scholarships will graduate from college and not have to immigrate to the United States or Europe for opportunity. This will tie in well with any leadership that understands that Ghana has a lot of potential infrastructure waiting to be developed.

Developing Ghana's infrastructure

Human gold according to World Bank Country Director, Karlsson is Ghana's potent Human Resource material.

The best SOCCER players in the world come from Ghana. Ghana can therefore earn some foreingn exchange by facilitating contracts of soccer players to the Western nations rather than leaving them on their own. Many of these players under sell themselves since they understand very little about contractual relations. Sadly the government/GFA also frustrates many players. In the euphoria of attaining visas and traveling overseas the players forget about their economic wealth. Ghana (GFA) will have a pool of players to draw from whom are being kept fit thanks to the facilities and care they receive in their foreign teams. Granting that there are a lot of talented soccer players who cannot even make a team what wrong is it to train them and loan them to countries like USA where soccer is now taking roots. USA would be hungry for Ghana's soccer talents. As of today the highest paid and most valued soccer player in the USA is a Ghanaian trained athlete, Patrick Adu. Quess what if her mom had not won the Green Card Lottery? He would still be playing in the sandy beaches and uncarpeted fields of Ghana like many Ghanaian youth today. And do you know how much Patrick Adu remits his family back home? Yet there are a lot of the likes of Patrick Adu who cannot even get selection into the Second Division League. GFA wake up! There are many more in the villages who cannot even affor soccer balls. Believe it or not each of these talents is worth over $100,000 a year in the USA or elsewhere in the West.

And we can't even talk about the many intelligent kids who cannot even get access to the secondary schools let alone the university or polytechnics. Yet the government is complaing about brain drain and Green Card Lottery. For the brain drain of our health professionals. Rather than frustrating their chances to earn a descent living overseas ( like Rawlings NDC regime dumped most of the Green Card Lottery applications) why doesn't our government come out with some innovation to attract or ensure the training of more profesionals. In a private conversation, Kennedy told me how this could be reduced. Establish some bonus scheme for those who would serve in the rural areas (call it rural allowance), give housing allowance towards length of service ( say a doctor or nurse is qualified for government assisted loans to build or move into already built house to be called his or her own when one serves for 10 years continuosly); Give car incentives to those who stay for 5 years. This program can take off easily with $1 million. Don't tell us cost when MPs get $25,000 every 2-4 years. The government can also make the training professionals understand by their final year that if they choose to leave the country they have to pay a price to support their universities, while the government get involve and help those who want to leave on good terms. The government can make the institutions they graduate from maintain some legal links. Establish some scholarship/foundation and make them oblige to give part of their fat salaries to train more professionals home. The cycle of prosperity moves on. The good news is that soon Ghana would be full of professionals. And don't forget these foreign trained professionals will eventually come back home with even more exposure and experience. Government of Ghana drop the envy and help develop more talents.

Small Industries

The most visible (and most marketable) cultural contribution from Ghana is Kente cloth, which is widely recognized and valued for its colors and symbolism. Kente cloth is made by skilled Ghanaian weavers, and the major weaving centers in and around Kumasi, Bonwire. Areas of Volta Region are also full of kente. Government of Ghana must work with Ghana Promotion Council to market Ghana's kente in the international market. Sadly Ghana government has still not seen the need to patent her original kente product. The proliferation of fake kente from Ivory Coast is rather capturing the market. The good news is the rich western tycoons would prefer the orighinal Ghana kente, which Preisent Clinton, Queen Elizabeth, President Carter and all the dignitaries who ever came to Ghana have. Let the go and see how beautiful a decoration Ghana's original kente can make by consulting these gignitaries. Sure, there is market for Ghana kente in Holywood.

Highlife is a musical genre that originated in Ghana in the 1920's and spread to other West African countries. It is characterized by jazzy horns and multiple guitars which lead the band. After Independence, sons and daughters of Ghana like George Darko is a revolutionary in Ghanaian highlife music, changing its landscape. He introduced the Burger Hilife with his first hit Ako ti brofo, which was very popular in the early 1980s. Daddy Lumba, born Charles Kwadwo Fosu, is a Ghanaian born singer who is based in Cologne, Germany. In the early 1980s, he Charles Kwadwo Fosu debuted on the highlife scene with his hit "Yeeye Aka Akwantuo Mu" with Nana Acheampong. Today, he is one of the biggest Ghanaian singers around thanks to foreign exposure. Koo Nimo. Pat Thomas. E.T. Mensah. A.B. Crentsil. Ampadu of The African Brothers Band are all walking around without the wealth they deserve because they never had the privilege of international exposure. In their day they were underpaid and unadvertised because they remained stationed in Ghana. Our government under the auspices of the ministry of culture and tourism would need to come out with some ideas and vision to develop this untapped and neglected Ghanaian infrustructure. It is crucial for Ghana's growth that our government help in selling Ghanaian talents abroad. Osibisa is a band, founded in 1969 by four Africans and three Caribbean musicians, who peaked in popularity in the 1970s. Founding members included Ghanaians Teddy Osei (saxophone), Sol Amarfio (drums) and Mac Tontoh (trumpet). Ghanaians Darko Adams Potato (died 1995) and Kiki Djan (died 2004) have also been members of the band. Osibisa describes itself as the godfathers of world music, claiming to have paved the way for more famous musicians like Bob Marley, who became popular in the 1980s. Their music is described as a fusion of African, Caribbean, jazz, rock, Latin and R&B. Except for bands like Daddy Lumba, Osibisa which happened to have international exposure all the other old-time bands were under-sold. Ministry of culture and tourism did or has done insignificantly to promote them. Is it not a shame that Saka Acquaye and His African Ensemble who though were featured on Nonesuch Explorer Series are hardly known on the international market?

The Ghanaian music (as high life) would highly flourish in the international scene , particularly with its up-tempo, danceable style. However highlife for now is only known and played consistently at the local clubs and bars in Ghana.

Ghana HERBS: Standards Board can work with herbal doctors and explore our herbs and traditional medicine further. For example as noted by Rockson Adofo, in his Feature Article of Wednesday, 18 January 2006, Nana Kwaku Fri, a fetish priest of Kwakufriso at Asante Nwase claimed in the early 1990's to have found a cure for the HIV/AIDS disease. Many patients among who were the Ivorian in majority consulted him for treatment. The then government never bothered to take him serious so he was obliged to travel to Japan hoping to gain recognition for his medicine. The Japanese disproved his claim but wanted to know the very herbs of the supposed AIDS concoction. ”Nana Kwaku Fri had to escape from Japan for his sheer life, he asserted on his arrival in Ghana from what had become his misadventure though, well intended.” Adofo wrote.

Only heavens know the fortune the Japanese have made out of this herbal doctor. Let government help our culture modernize herself from identifying herbs to evil/devil. Likewise let our fetish priests devolve themselves from blackening and bedeviling their acts. It would be nice if they could see their office/practice as a profession or a business that needs modernizing and streamlining. Cut all the occult off or learn to draw a line between the two! Very crucial. The government should help us abuse our minds that whatever is African (black) is evil. “All good things come from God.” So let us learn to use them or accept them with thanksgiving. The only valid motive for doing anything is love. "The refining pot is for silver and the furnace for gold, but the LORD tests the hearts" (Prov. 17:3).

It appears our leaders are keeping the attention off our own talents or faults for their own unseen selfish motives. “Sankofa” is not a bad idea here but it needs some cleaning first. Jesus made it clear that good counsel must dress not only behavior but issues of the heart (Matt. 23:25-26). According to Adofo, “Now, we have another Dr. Oheneba Akwasi Amoako, an herbalist in Accra claiming to have a cure for HIV, having already treated HIV-positive patients who now test negative.” What is the government of Ghana going to do about this? Harness this human gold and develop its infrastructure or flip it off and resort to the collection of loans? According to Adofo, Dr. Oheneba Akwasi Amoako has since written to President J.A. Kufuor as asserted on Peace FM to his discovery. He has been compelled to write to Mr. Kofi Annan, the Secretary General of the UN, Presidents Chirac of France, G. W. Bush of the USA, the German Chancellor, Premier Tony Blair of the United Kingdom and the World Health Organization (WHO) to notify them about his find as the government of Ghana has turned a deaf ear. Will anything good come out of this desperate attempt? Let President Kufour and the Parliament of Ghana answer this question.

This author is calling on the government of Ghana to intervene immediately and act as the intermediary before the giant powerful Western pharmaceutical companies tap this human gold for nothing. At least Ghana's name will be registered in the annals of Medicine and our dignity would be near restoration. Ironically the West admits covertly that good things always come from Africa while our leaders keep preaching the opposite that “nothing good comes from 'Black' Africa. Africa and especially Ghana has solid and excellent professional pool, including Kofi Annan, the UN Secretary General yet our Establishment will bypass them and consult the European, American or the Chinese- Anything unafrican is good enough for them. They return from their missions abroad only to tell us to tighten our belts. No wonder we are still beggars after almost 50 years of independence.

Permit this author to humbly make the following additions to Adofo's great suggestions:

The Ghanaian Diasporas through their various associations should show interest in the man's (Dr. Amoako) find, contribute financially to become stakeholders or shareholders once ascertained of the veracity of his claim from some of his patients with hospital evidence. [First let Ghanaweb compile all the list of Diaspora Associations]. Even better let the Ghana Promotion Council take Dr. Amoako's case up immediately.

Ghanaians should appreciate, patronize and promote made-in-Ghana goods, the only first step in the right direction to breaking free from the killing cocoon in which we are ignorantly embedded. [Let our government begin the campaign back home to change the mind set of the people with regard to indigenous products. Did the Ghanaian know that Ghana-made Milo, for instance, is the best in the world? So are some of the cream and products made from Ghana. These products are very attractive to the Ghana Diaspora. It is now up to the government sector responsible for Promotion to take the message to the international market. The individual Ghanaian can only do so little here.]

Adofo wrote, “Dr. Amoako should inform Mr. Nelson Mandela, the former President of the Republic of South Africa of his find and prospective plans.” Why not Kofi Annan, the UN Secretary General who is a son of Ghana? Notwithstanding it is a shame to Ghana government that Ghanaians can only trust in the confidence of Madela, Jesse Jackson, Cosby or Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation for ACTION.

It was only prudent for on our policy makers to assist all talents identified in Ghana as infrastructure to be developed. Ghana government Must encourage both engineering and re-engineering in our Higher Institutions of Learning. The efforts of Ghanaians like Dr. Apostle Kwadwo Safo of the Kristo Asafo Mission Must not only be applauded but also be assisted morally and financially for the overall good of our nation. “The emerging economic giants like Malaysia that we look forward to emulate have come thus far, through re-engineering or copycatting, formulation of visionary and well implemented government policies. It is therefore sad to see some selfish and feeble-minded Ghanaians writing off the Apostle as Mr. Nobody in the field of invention and hence, asking for his "patents" in his various engineering claims” ((as cited by Adofo 2006).

The practical worth of Ghana's human gold is too obvious for our government and policy makers to miss. One does not need the eagle's eye to see or the brain surgeon's mind to diagnose this fact. African leaders wake up from your slumber!

We have mountains to climb to reach our prosperity but it is not all that impossible if we have the right leadership who has vision and love for the people of Ghana. This is why you have to seriously consider Kennedy's candidacy. All Ghana needs is a step in the right direction. It begins with changing the deplorable behavioral attitude of our leadership (the Establishment) and the people to things. “Instead of blaming ourselves for our failures, we oftentimes blame it on the Whites. What hypocrites we are?” (As cited by Adofo, 2006). As a nation we can reach our potential. We can become self sufficient like America or Europe but we must have the will to progress beyond our present state of being. For this we have been made. For this we MUST rightly hunger. By Okyere Bonna, Secretary, Ghana Leadership Union, Inc. Views expressed by the author(s) do not necessarily reflect those of GhanaHomePage.

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