Mon, 08 Apr 2024 Feature Article

Building The Ghana We Want

Building The Ghana We Want

The "Ghana We Want" story, as envisioned by former President H.E John Mahama, is a vision for a prosperous and inclusive Ghana that addresses the key challenges facing the country, particularly unemployment and sustainable economic growth. At the heart of Mahama's vision is the recognition that Ghana's future prosperity depends on creating a strong and resilient economy that benefits all its citizens. To achieve this, Mahama has proposed a number of policies and initiatives designed to stimulate economic growth, create jobs, and promote sustainable development.

The state of Ghana’s economy is in shambles which does not portray the Ghana any citizen would wish for; our total public debt has skyrocketed to ₵ 610billion, the exchange rate is hovering around ₵13 per $1, Inflation is around 30%, high cost of living with unpreceded unemployment rate of 14.7%, lending rate is now 33% just as the current T-bill rate, food inflation has jumped to 27%, a declining growth rate with 12% budget deficit whereas our public debt per capita has ballon to 18,181. The “Ghana we do not want” has a broken economy which is characterized with debt default, haircut, poor credit rating and junk status.

The “Ghana We Want” is a nation that constructs more infrastructures to combat the high infrastructure deficit, build a robust economy with stable currency, create more sustainable jobs in lieu of temporary jobs or using huge public funds to collapse banks that need liquidity support to survive. The Ghana we want has a promise of providing quality education, quality healthcare delivery, an excellent security system and technological advancement. A nation that fights corruption, focus on the development of its citizen, improving its justice system and prioritize the interest of its people.

One of the key policies proposed by Mahama is the 24-Hour Economy Policy with multiple work shifts to optimize job creation and productivity. This policy aims to create a vibrant and dynamic economy that operates around the clock, providing jobs and opportunities for all Ghanaians. The 24-hour Economy will be a deliberate policy intervention by the next NDC/Mahama government to encourage and support certain businesses and companies to operate 24/7, preferably in a three-shift system of 8 hours each, by creating an enabling environment that promotes productivity, competitiveness and well-paying jobs.

Under this policy, the government would work with the private sector to establish a range of industries and businesses that can operate 24 hours a day. The 24-hour economy will primarily, but not exclusively, focus on; Agro-processing, Pharmaceutical industry, Manufacturing industry, Construction, Extractive industry (mining and quarrying), Sanitation and waste management, Leisure and hospitality industry, Digital start-ups and Business Process Outsourcing (BPO), Financial services, Retail centers, Transportation services

Also, selected public institutions with large customer traffic such as Ports and Harbors, Customs, Passport Office, DVLA, among others will be part of the 24-hour economy.

The 24-hour economy will also be implemented within the context of other national development initiatives, such as education and training, health services, agriculture, the provision of affordable housing for workers, efficient public transport, efficient justice delivery, among others. It is all part of an ambitious drive by the NDC/Mahama administration to take Ghana to the next level in the global economy. The 24-Hour Economy Policy would also focus on promoting entrepreneurship and innovation, particularly among young people. The government would provide support and resources for young entrepreneurs to start and grow their businesses, including access to finance, mentorship, and training.

The 24-hour Economy will be mainly anchored on Mahama's overarching vision to create sustainable jobs for Ghanaians. This will be achieved through his agenda to: modernize and mechanize agriculture; provide incentives for the private sector to thrive; promote agro-processing and manufacturing; transform Ghana into an import substitution and export-led economy, among others. The 24-hour economy policy will be a major boost for John Mahama's import substitution and export drive. This will stabilize our national currency, improve our reserves, bring down inflation and interest rates, create more employment opportunities and improve livelihoods.

The next NDC/Mahama government will create an enabling environment for businesses and companies to operate 24/7 by:

I) Providing an atmosphere of improved security and public safety.

II) Providing cheaper and reliable electricity for participating businesses based on a Time Of Use (TOU) tariff system. A Time of Use (TOU) tariff is an electricity pricing structure where the price of electricity varies based on the time of day and day of the week, power is consumed. Companies that sign unto the 24-hour economy policy will be given modern smart meters which will be calibrated to charge a lesser tariff (per KW/h) for power consumed during off-peak hours.

III) Companies/businesses that subscribe to the 24-hour Economy policy will be given tax incentives to reduce the cost of their operations and enhance their competitiveness.

IV) Financing support will be provided for certain strategic agro-processing factories and manufacturing companies to boost production for import substitution and exports.

The next NDC/Mahama government will publish the strategic blueprint for the implementation of the 24-hour economy policy upon assuming office. Businesses and companies that wish to take advantage of the incentive packages under the policy, will be required to voluntarily sign onto the 24-hour economy policy. Companies that are already running 24/7 will automatically be captured under the policy and provided with the necessary incentives. A new Employment Act, which will among other things, set out the regulatory framework for the 24-hour economy, will be passed in consultation with organized Labour, AGI and other relevant stakeholders. The Act will complement the existing Labour Act.

The policy, we will consciously promote discipline and efficiency in the already existing 8-hour work schedule in public institutions and in new additional work shifts by introducing appropriate measures to root out practices that militate against efficiency and productivity in the public sector. All the major and most prosperous economies in the world operate various degrees of 24-hour economies. They include the United States, where nearly 30% of the labour force work at night; the United Kingdom (19%); Germany (12%) and France (7%). In Africa, Kenya is contemplating a 24-hour economy. The city of Sydney, the capital of New South Wales in Australia is currently implementing a 24-hour economy policy strategy, just to mention a few. Mahama’s 24-hour economy policy will be tailored and implemented to suit Ghana's economic context.

Currently, Ghana does not have any deliberate policy that supports or incentivizes businesses or companies to operate 24/7. The 24-hour economy strategy will be the first government policy intervention that will provide tax incentives, cheaper and reliable power and in some cases, financing support for businesses that operate 24/7 in Ghana. This is what makes the policy a novelty. The fact that few companies currently operate 24/7 in Ghana does not mean that the 24-hour Economy is already being implemented.

This is because such companies operate on their own without any support whatsoever from government. More importantly, the fact that few companies currently operate 24/7 in the country goes to show that the 24-hour Economy is possible, has a huge potential and can create more sustainable jobs if properly supported by a deliberate government Policy intervention.

Currently, over 90% of the things we consume in Ghana (food, beverages, fabrics, pharmaceuticals etc.) are imported. Demand for these basic commodities already exist.

Ghana has the capacity to produce most of these basic items for import substitution and exports if the right enabling environment is created by government. The problem however, has been the high cost of doing business in the country and the over liberalization of the Ghanaian economy, which makes Ghanaian businesses uncompetitive due to competition with cheaper and subsidized imports.

The incentive packages under the 24-hour economy policy will significantly reduce the cost of doing business and enable businesses to operate round-the-clock with an enhanced competitive edge. If locally produced goods can be supplied at a comparative cost to their imported counterparts, they will be absorbed by local demand. Also, there is high demand for better and more efficient public services from certain public institutions. Under the 24-hour economy, these institutions will operate round-the-clock, and improve customer service and productivity. The incentive packages will scale up production, enhance productivity and competitiveness, propel economic growth and lead to more decent and well-paying jobs.

John Mahama is a visionary leader and a Nation-Builder. His track record as President bears this fact out. Ghana saw many transformational investments and developments in all sectors of the country under his tenure as President, some of which operate 24/7 as we speak. They include; the construction of the Meridian Port Services (MPS) terminal, which has made the Tema Port the second largest port in the whole of West Africa. Today, the MPS terminal operates 24/7. This allows round the clock clearance of goods from the port.

The Accra Digital Centre, which is the biggest Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) centre in the country with the capacity of hosting over 20,000 direct digital and ancillary jobs if operated 24/7.

The $3 billion private sector-led investment in IT announced by John Mahama will open new Data Analytics, Cyber Security, Artificial Intelligence, Data Governance, Data Protection and Innovative job opportunities throughout the country. These fields of ICT will run 24-hours through collaborations from the Americans (-6/8 hour behind Ghana) to Europe (same time zone) and the far East (+6/8 hours ahead of Ghana). The Ghana Gas Company established by the Mills/Mahama NDC government also operates 24/7 and has provided many Ghanaians with sustainable jobs. Terminal 3 at the Kotoka International Airport also operates 24/7.

The 24-hour economy policy of H.E John Dramani Mahama (the Nation Builder) is the most revolutionary solution to the critical problem of high unemployment confronting Ghanaians, especially the youth. The policy is not an end in itself. It is the centrepiece of a wider agenda of modernization, industrialization, and transformation of the Ghanaian economy for the creation of sustainable jobs across the country. The policy will positively impact the SME sector and expand the essential service economy. No one will be left behind. The policy is laudable and doable. This is why key stakeholders like the Trades Union Congress (TUC) have already endorsed the strategy, describing it as a Game-Changer. The Federation of Labour, the Institute of Economic Affairs, the Chamber of Local Governance, among others, have all endorsed the policy.

The 24-hour Economy being proposed by H.E John Mahama is for jobs, jobs and more jobs. In our local dialect, "Adwuma no, Kofi beye bi, na Salifu nso aye bi, na Enyonam ay bi na Kotey nso aye nea aka no".

Another important aspect of Mahama's vision for the "Ghana We Want" is the promotion of sustainable development. The former President recognizes that Ghana's natural resources are finite and that the country must adopt sustainable practices to ensure that future generations can inherit a healthy and thriving environment. To achieve this, Mahama has proposed policies that promote renewable energy, sustainable agriculture, and responsible mining practices. The government would work with the private sector and civil society to develop and implement sustainable practices that protect the environment while promoting economic growth.

In addition to these policies, Mahama has also proposed a range of initiatives aimed at addressing the root causes of unemployment and promoting sustainable economic growth. These initiatives include:

  1. Creation of decent jobs through the promotion of public and private partnerships in the construction and manufacturing, agricultural, forestry, and fisheries
  2. National Employment Centres will be established in all regions of the country as an avenue for employing the youth. Businesses that employ applicants from the Centre's database will receive tax breaks to encourage more to employ applicants through the Centers.
  3. The Big Push, a $10 billion dollar investment in infrastructure to create jobs which includes a $3billion dollar private-sector led investment in ICT.
  4. Free Primary Health Care
  5. Complete constitutional review process.
  6. Run the leanest government in Ghana's history with just about 60 ministers.
  7. Scrap ex gratia in it current form.
  8. Discontinue the payment of utility bills, fuel, DSTV, etc., as part of top government employees' service conditions.
  9. Tighten legislation to put a cap on debt accumulation and prevent any future reckless borrowing, as has been witnessed under this administration.
  10. An immediate moratorium shall be placed on all non-concessional borrowing and pursue our bilateral and multilateral partners for more concessional financing and grants.
  11. Re-establish the Sinking Fund to smoothen out debt repayment obligations.
  12. Complete ongoing projects instead of rushing to start new ones
  13. Set up independent value for money office to scrutinize all government procurements above $5 million or as Parliament may decide.
  14. Set up a Commission of Enquiry to investigate the matter of looted State Lands and make recommendations for resolving the vexed issue of expropriated Ga-Dangbe lands.
  15. John Mahama will end collateralizing statutory funds such as GETFUND, DACF etc. for the purpose of taking on more loans.
  16. Agriculture and agribusiness shall be one of the key anchors of our economic transformation plan. NDC will launch a programme akin to the "Operation Feed Yourself and Industries" of the early 70's to make Ghana self-sufficient in basic staples and curb unnecessary imports.
  17. Revamp Tema oil refinery and ensure that the refinery processes domestic crude oil (as was started under previous NDC administration )
  18. Revamp and reignite strategic industries such as the Volta Aluminium Company (VALCO).
  19. Hold duty-bearers accountable, both past and present; investigate corruption scandals and prosecute all those found culpable.
  20. Within the first 100 days of coming into office, the NDC will convene a stakeholder summit that brings together educationists, experts, teachers, parents, students, and opinion leaders to deliberate on how to improve the implementation of the Free SHS system and improve the quality of our basic and secondary education.
  21. Ghana will return to the regional exams conducted by the West African Examinations Council (WAEC) so that we can compare our students’ performance vis-a-vis our English-speaking-neighbors in the subregion.
  22. Promotes an integrated bauxite and alumina industry to increase returns from this extractive activity.
  23. H.E John Mahama will implement a social housing scheme that will enable working people to own houses in any district of their choice in their lifetime.
  24. As part of NDC’s Industrial Policy, we will develop policies that promote Ghanaian ownership and control major sectors and encourage; "Buy Ghana' agenda.
  25. We will remove the cap that diverts monies generated by the National Health insurance levy(NHIL) into the consolidated fund. This will enable the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) to meet its obligations towards service providers and expand the scheme.
  26. The next Mahama administration will roll out the 5G network and create a strong digital infrastructure optimise new technologies.
  27. Indigenous private sectors will be incentivized to capture the commanding heights of the economy in every sector to reduce financial outflows occasioned by huge profit repatriation.
  1. By incentivising local production of goods and promoting value addition, we can stabilise the cedi, create sustainable jobs, and achieve food self-sufficiency.
  2. Local content laws will be passed to give Ghanaian registered businesses an advantage, especially in the extractive sector.
  3. The businesses will be incentivised to produce goods such as rice, sugar, tomato, frozen fish, poultry, meat products, vegetable cooking oils, and local pharmaceuticals.
  4. Restrictions will be placed on the unbridled importation of some highly consumed goods through tariff and non-tariff measures.
  5. The policy will also support large-scale commercial agricultural production to enable us to achieve food self-sufficiency.
  6. A strong cooperative system in the agricultural sector based on farmers' service centres will be the vehicle for driving agricultural credit and inputs.
  7. Each of the sixteen regions of the country will be supported with investments in products for which they have a comparative advantage
  8. Processing plants will be provided in the regions for crops such as palm, cashew, groundnuts, cotton, coffee, cocoa, soya, cassava, shea nuts, cereals, ginger, spices, cut flowers, fruits and other horticultural products.
  9. The private sector will be involved in our national food buffer stock arrangements to improve efficiency and reduce waste.
  10. Rehabilitation and preservation of our remaining forest reserves through revenues received from carbon offsets. Hundreds of thousands of jobs will be created in the forestry sector.

The “Ghana we want” is not just a powerful slogan but contains the many untold stories that will address the percussions of the Ghanaian community effectively. “Building the Ghana we want” is not a single man’s or a certain group’s agenda but a collective agenda for all, including members of different political parties. The story goes beyond policies and must be a reality. A perfect story at a perfect time, let’s embrace this transformational agenda by a visionary leader.

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