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29.05.2008 NPP News

Speech delivered to the Association of Ghana Industries (AGI) on 23rd May, 2008, by the NPP Presidential Candidate, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, MP

By The Statesman
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TITLE

Industrial Development: My agenda for Ghana's transformation

INTRODUCTION

The President and Members of the Association of Ghana Industries (AGI), distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen, let me begin by congratulating your esteemed organization on the occasion of your 60th anniversary. I honour you for the significant role your association and its members have played in our national development.

So many of your members have given so much to this nation that the list of your heroes is also in large part a list of our national heroes. I speak of persons like C. S. Appenteng, B.A. Mensah, Kwame Safo Adu, Esther Ocloo, J. A. Addison, Akenten Appiah-Menka, Kwame Pianim and many others whom time will not permit me to mention.

I say to all of you here and those who have gone before you, a sincere "AYEKOO' for your services to our nation. I have also to commend the successful young (in relative terms) entrepreneur who is providing such strong and dynamic leadership to your association as its President. He is a model of entrepreneurship that we need to encourage. Mr. Oteng Gyasi, continue the good work.

Ladies and gentlemen, I had the opportunity recently to discuss the construction industry with the Ghana Real Estate Development Association (GREDA) and I plan to discuss the mining sector with the Chamber of Mines very soon. Therefore, today, I shall focus my address on your primary interest, manufacturing.

Ladies and gentlemen, in 1961, nearly fifty years ago, at the height of the great ideological battle that dominated the twentieth century, the founding father of our Party, the great Ghanaian, Joseph Boakye Danquah, said that our party's policy 'is to liberate the energies of the people for the growth of a property owning democracy in this land, with right to life, freedom and justice, as the principles to which the government and laws of the land should be dedicated in order specifically to enrich life, property and liberty of each and every citizen'.

Guided by the self-evident truths embodied in this statement, our Party has always stood for free markets, competition and the right of the individual to strive for the betterment of his or her circumstances. The latter half of the twentieth century saw the world plunged into a cold and bitter war.

Amongst the issues at stake was the question of whether people are better off under autocratic governments with centralized control of the factors of production and distribution of wealth or under the forces of free markets, competition and individual initiative.

This struggle engulfed our continent and country and many lined up on the side of centralized control of economies. Under this ideology, we had a government that managed state farms, baked bread and washed the clothes of citizens. Later, we had another government that was at best indifferent to free enterprise, but was more often hostile to successful businessmen and women, whose businesses were deliberately attacked and crippled.

Today, I see in this room some of those whose businesses were so attacked.

During that long half-century of darkness for competition and free markets, the Danquah-Busia tradition never wavered in its belief that the best way to transform the lives of our people was to give them the freedom to fulfil their potential.

Today, I stand before you proudly as the leader of the only Ghanaian party with an unquestioned tradition of free enterprise, formed by adherents of the free market system and made up of those who, beside their faith in our Creator and our country, believe passionately in the ability of individuals to make our society better while striving to create wealth and better themselves.

Others may mouth the platitudes of free enterprise but we, the NPP, have always been defined by it. Our motto is Development in Freedom. We are the party of the Ghanaian entrepreneur; the party of enterprise; the party of the market. Let me here, on behalf of the NPP, commend the allegedly 'new' NDC, the party that in opposition has now allegedly embraced the principles of social democracy, for their newfound interest in caring for business, and joining us on the platform of free enterprise. We hope that it is not just your vote they are after.

2.0 VISION

Ladies and gentlemen, according to the National Development Planning Commission (NDPC), a brief review of economic development in the world since 1965 clearly demonstrates that rapidly growing countries are, for the most part, those with large manufacturing sectors. The different trajectories of Latin America and Southeast Asia bear this out.

In 1965, the manufacturing industries of the two regions were roughly of similar size, accounting for around 25% of GDP. By 1980, the manufacturing share of GDP had risen to 35% in Southeast Asia while it virtually remained the same in Latin America.

Furthermore, since 1980, manufacturing in Latin America has declined to around 15% in 2004. It is the strong manufacturing developed by the Southeast Asians that has accounted for the significant structural difference between the two regions, with the Asians doing far better than the Latin Americans.

Africa, too, has a manufacturing share of GDP around 15%. In Ghana, the manufacturing sector currently accounts for about 10% of total national output. From this, it is reasonable to assume that the strength of the manufacturing sector correlates strongly, for the most part, with the strength of a country's economy.

My party and I believe that the modernisation of our nation demands the structural transformation of our national economy, and that the rapid development of the industrial sector, especially its manufacturing component, is critical to the pace and success of that process.

Furthermore, I believe that Ghanaians must drive this transformation, primarily, of course, for the benefit of Ghanaians. In line with that belief, I see by the end of the next decade a nation with industries evenly spread across the country from North to South, from agro-businesses to petrochemicals with industrial growth rate above 12% and industry's share of GDP doubling to 50%.

I see by that time a nation that produces most of what it needs and adds significant value to more than half of our raw materials before export (in the case of cocoa, our target is 70% by the end of my first term), and thus produces an ever-increasing number of well-paying jobs. I see then an industrial sector with high productivity, that embraces new technology, has access to a pool of workers and managers trained to international standards, has unimpeded access to and collaboration with government and a nation that has Ghanaians as the central players in all key areas of our economy and national life.

With projected growth rates of over 10% year-on-year for the next decade, we shall have a GDP of over 32 billion USD with the industrial sector worth about 16 billion USD. That will make the industrial sector four times the size of the entire economy the NPP inherited in 2001! Therefore the best interest of our nation requires that we commit firmly to industrial development. From this commitment, with your help, we shall not waver.

3.0 STATE OF INDUSTRY IN 2001

Ladies and gentlemen, when the NPP assumed power in 2001, we met high interest and inflation rates. The cedi was depreciating and there were high government deficits with resultant borrowing from banks that crowded out private sector borrowing.

Also, many companies had not retooled in years and much of our industrial equipment and technology were outdated. To compound this, the business environment, as well as the government, was not friendly to private business. We had the ironical situation where there was no duty charged for importing fully assembled computers ready to be used, while there was duty to be paid for importing computer parts to be assembled locally.

Furthermore, the hostility of government was sometimes demonstrated by the bizarre spectre of the then President openly calling for a boycott of the products of certain Ghanaian owned industries because of the political colour of their proprietors. The consequences of these were low levels of confidence in our economy on the part of both Ghanaians and foreigners, resulting in low levels of investment from both domestic and foreign sources.

4.0 CREATING THE FOUNDATION AND ENVIRONMENT FOR INDUSTRIAL GROWTH

Ladies and gentlemen, the NPP government inherited an economy in considerable disequilibrium. As a result, all of us, government, key stakeholders and the Ghanaian people together, have had to undertake some difficult things to correct the underlying problems. We have to applaud the collective resolve of the Ghanaian people to bear the sacrifices that made the correction possible. It would be immoral if those of us in government did not ensure that those sacrifices bear fruit and were not made in vain.

Since assuming office in 2001, the NPP administration has realised several important economic initiatives.

1. We have improved the macro-economic environment by reducing inflation from 40% to 15%, building infrastructure, supporting the central bank to eliminate the secondary reserve requirement for banks and therefore achieving lower interest rates to free up more money for private sector borrowing.

Early in our term, we made the bold decision to go HIPC, and thus made Ghana eligible for new resources. In the past seven years, our GDP has increased from 3.9 billion USD to nearly 15 billion USD. Also, there has been relative stability of our currency with increased access to foreign exchange.

2. We have elaborated an industrial policy and created a regulatory framework by putting in place a national private sector development strategy, developing a new trade policy and reviewing the Companies Code.

3. We have improved our business environment by introducing commercial courts, faster business registration and more accountability in the government's financial dealings. One of my most significant acts as Attorney General was initiating the processes for the establishment of these courts.

4. We have supported the export sector with more aggressive export promotion activities. For example, since 2002, the Export Development and Investment Fund (EDIF) has invested nearly 700 billion cedis in export promotion with 28% going into agro-processing. Furthermore, we have opened markets for Ghanaian producers through AGOA, collaborated with our ECOWAS partners and organised trade fairs by working with AGI members to open up regional markets for our products.

5. We have obtained from the American government, through the Millennium Challenge Account, 547 million USD to be spent over the next five years to modernise various sectors of our economy, particularly agriculture.

6. We have made significant investments into our educational system to help our young people acquire the skills that will make them productive citizens of our country.

7. We have made significant investments in healthcare, through the NHIS, infrastructure, training and salaries.

I know that some claim that they have not seen the benefits of macro-economic stability. That may be so for some, but it is also an undisputed fact that, without macro-economic stability, sustained growth would be impossible. Indeed, improvement in the macro-economy, with its attendant fiscal discipline, has enabled government to make substantial investments in health and education which have had a considerable impact on poverty.

These changes have restored the confidence of the Ghanaian and foreign investor community in the management of the Ghanaian economy. Our debtors have written off over 4 billion USD of our debts, freeing up critical resources for investments to fight poverty. Also, there has been an increase in the attractiveness of Ghana to foreign investors, manifested by the increase in FDI. From 1994 to 2000, the total value of new Foreign Direct Investment was 1.3 billion USD. However, from 2001 to 2007, FDI increased to 7.8 billion USD.

An example of such increasing confidence is the 350 million USD Shenzhem power station at Tema. As further proof, the value of our non-traditional exports rose from USD 400.70 million to 1.17 billion USD between 2001 AND 2007, representing an annual growth rate of 27.2%.

These achievements have not gone unnoticed. They have precipitated massive investments here at home by Ghanaians in the Diaspora. Thus, even though, due to delays in the implementation of ROPAL, they cannot vote with ballots, our brothers and sisters in the Diaspora are voting with their wallets. Since the advent of the NPP administration, they have remitted 1.5 billion USD to Ghana. Also, Ghana has been cited repeatedly as one of the top ten places to do business, not just in Africa but also across the developing world. Today, we can raise money in the private markets without any assistance from the World Bank.

Indeed, when we went to the international capital markets to raise 750 million dollars through a sovereign bond issue, it was over-subscribed to the tune of 3.2 billion dollars! In other words, the international financial community had more confidence in the faith and credit of Ghana than we did ourselves!

Ladies and gentlemen, despite these achievements, I acknowledge without reservation that our work in transforming our economy and industry is far from done. Indeed, what we have to do is more than what we have done.

Our nation went for too long without investments in key infrastructure and strategic sectors. That is why the process of stabilisation has taken this long. While we have done a lot and taken our country forward, we have not travelled as far as we need to. We have learned from our experiences and we can therefore do better. For the future, stability is not enough if we are to prevail.

We are at the end of the beginning rather than the beginning of the end. The challenges that the next President will face in January 2009 will be different from those John Agyekum Kufuor faced in January 2001. His task was to stabilise the economy and to rebuild the confidence of investors, both foreign and domestic, in our investment climate.

The task of the next President, based on that largely successful undertaking, is the transformation of the Ghanaian economy, for it should be self evident to all by now that we can no longer continue to operate what I call the 'Guggisberg economy', that is the raw material producing and exporting economy that has been our lot for virtually the last century, if we are to banish mass poverty. The process of structural transformation will be my task and I accept the challenge wholeheartedly.

Today, our nation stands on the threshold of a momentous transformation the like of which her history has never known. It is an exciting time to be a Ghanaian. My administration shall accelerate and deepen the initiatives of the current administration while aggressively adding new and necessary ones of our own. Our objective is clear. The world has seen the Asian Tigers. It is time it saw the African Lions. Ghana should be amongst the very first.

5.0 THEMES OF THE NPP CAMPAIGN

When I inaugurated the NPP Campaign Committee in Accra on March 13th, I spelled out four central thematic goals for the next NPP government:

firstly, the continuing consolidation of our democracy;
secondly, the modernisation of our society;
thirdly, the structural transformation of our economy; and
fourthly, the full engagement of our nation in the process of regional and continental integration.
During that March 13th address, I pledged my party to the structural transformation of our economy by:

focusing on the production of added-value goods and services, rather than primary products;
pursuing a clear policy of Ghanaian Economic Empowerment that will encourage the accumulation and investment of Ghanaian Capital, locally and from the Diaspora, and making more Ghanaians winners in the global economy;
investing a significant percentage of our GDP in Research and Development (R&D) and
making the formal sector more attractive to the majority of local economic operators
6.0 CHALLENGES TO OVERCOME

I have had many conversations with many of your members to deepen my understanding of industry and its challenges. Last Monday, in order to grasp at first hand current problems, I visited ALUWORKS, MYROC and SAMBA, all industries in Tema, where I heard directly once again the problems you face. I thank the Chief Executives of these enterprises for opening their doors to my team and I. We were touched by the care with which they prepared for our visits and the enthusiasm of their workers.

At SAMBA, we heard how much difference technical and other government assistance can make to a small company as the CEO, Mrs Leticia Osafo-Addo, recounted the story of a deal with foreign partners that went bad due to lack of expert knowledge.

At ALUWORKS, we learned of how the nation's inability to enforce standards has enabled cheaper, substandard aluminium sheets to enter our market and thus compromise their business and the public's safety. Mr Venkat and Chairman Inkumsah were very persuasive about what aluminium industry can do for our economy.

We saw at MYROC a virtually empty, expensive cold storeroom, because the absence of funding has made it difficult for the company to own its own vessels and thereby secure its raw material base. The C.E.O, Charles Mensah, shared with us his frustrations in getting the relevant authorities to improve an access road to his factory. He explained that, without that road, MYROC risks de-certification by the European Union and loss of access to a significant market.

Despite these problems, they all spoke about the tremendous prospects for their businesses and how, with the necessary support, they can create jobs and wealth as our country enters this exciting phase of transformation.

The main problems that I believe we can address together are:

First, there is considerable concern about access to and the cost of capital. This concern stems from the difficulties businesses encounter in getting credit for the upgrading of equipment and expansion of facilities. Indeed, as one of your executives told me, 'it is easier for my employees to obtain loans to buy consumer items like T.V. and cars than for the company itself to get loans for new equipment from the same bank'. In addition, the relatively high domestic interest rates in the era of the global village make our products uncompetitive.

Second, industry is constrained by lack of infrastructural support factors like irregular electricity, lack of access to secure land, lack of good roads and difficulties with port services.

Third, industry is hampered by indirect costs, which, according to the World Bank, adds 20 to 40% to the cost of doing business. These include administrative delays and bottlenecks, bureaucratic corruption and inefficiencies.

Fourth, the legal, administrative and regulatory environment, which includes an absence of or lack of enforcement of standards, consumer competition and modernisation of our investment codes, makes it more difficult to do business here.

Fifth, unfair trade practices, involving unfair practices and dumping by foreign entities into our markets, make it difficult for local industries to compete. I understand that many of you feel that, often, some government officials and agencies are more sensitive to the concerns of foreign businesses and governments than to your own. That is unacceptable. Ghana first has to be everyone's credo and practice.

Sixth, a tax and tariff regime, characterised by a multiplicity of taxes and tariffs that are inconsistent, and whose implementation cause delays, add to your costs unnecessarily. Added to this is cumbersome implementation of ETLS that puts you at some disadvantage while doing business with those in the region, particularly in Nigeria. Given the extent to which we have opened our banking industry to Nigerians, we deserve better co-operation from them on ETLS.

Seventh, inadequate access to and consultation in policy-making by government makes it difficult for you to have constructive input into government policies.

Indeed, I got the very strong impression that in your view, the very culture and attitude of the public sector, despite the improvements under the NPP, have not been adequately supportive of industry. In all of this, there appears to be a lack of sufficient coordination of the actions of the public sector which then hampers the effective development of local industry.

7.0 INITIATIVES TO ADDRESS CHALLENGES

Before discussing my initiatives to address these challenges, you should know that your interests and concerns in making policy will guide my administration to a large extent. Ghanaian economic empowerment means exactly that - putting Ghanaians at the very centre of all public actions.

First, the government shall exert the necessary influence to reduce the cost of capital by working with the Bank of Ghana to stimulate the lowering of interest rates by the banks.

Furthermore, my government will take the following measures:

* establish a one billion USD Industrial Development Fund to provide access to medium and long-term capital to support Small and Medium Enterprises (SME's);

* support the review of the Export Development and Investment Fund (EDIF) to make it easier to access the funds and to expand coverage by encouraging banks to lend more;

* require, through legislation, that a significant proportion of bank loan portfolios go to Small and Medium Enterprises (SME's). Again, we shall, through legislation, assemble an array of support measures for small industries under an ' SME's CHARTER' BILL;

*increase access to loanable funds by adhering to ECOWAS convergence criteria on public sector borrowing;

* increase savings mobilisation by accelerating pensions reform and encouraging more savings.

Second, we shall address your concerns with infrastructure by:

* completing the Land Administration Project and implementing its findings to ensure security of land titles to investors;

* new approaches to transport and communication infrastructure that will be geared to increasing access roads, railway lines and ICT to industrial parks, and communities;

* reforms in the energy and power sector so that you can count on reliable and affordable access to the energy you need. As I indicated in my address at KNUST on energy last month, my government will make significant investments in thermal, nuclear and renewable energy to increase supplies, while using revenues from our new energy sources to transform the country, particularly the North, and cater for the needs of our citizens yet unborn;

* the establishment of Business Clusters and Industrial parks that will make the cost to businesses of having access to facilities and services cheaper due to economies of scale.

I know for example that the promise of the garment industry predicated upon our access to the American market has not been realised due to the cost and difficulty in accessing land and the inadequacy of the cotton produced locally. We shall support the industry by strengthening cotton production and assisting investors with incentives and reforms to reduce their costs and make them more competitive. We need to work with investors in the area, to harvest fully the benefits of AGOA, and to find and develop additional markets.

Third, address indirect costs by:

* the introduction of measures to reduce business approval processes to less than five days for new business applications;

* automation of business application and approval processes to reduce corruption by accelerating the e-government project;

* introduction of necessary changes in our public procurement laws and regulations that will commit all Ministries, Departments and Agencies to have at least half of the goods and services they use provided by local organisations. This will make available to local manufacturers, a large ready-made market that will drive productivity;

* reduction of delays in payment to businesses for goods and services supplied to government by private businesses. Government will be required to pay interest on outstanding balances after 90 days.

Fourth, reform the legal, administrative and regulatory environment by:

*completing the process of developing, passing and enforcing the Standards Bill;

* implementing the Consumer Protection Policy;

* complete the revision of the Companies Code to introduce international best practices to Ghana's business environment;

* modernising the Investment Code and decentralising its administration.

Fifth, combating of unfair trade practices will be done by:

* enforcing administrative regulatory measures together with vigorous policing of our borders to reduce smuggling;

*using aggressive efforts, consistent with applicable WTO rules, to protect our industries against dumping and other unfair practices. Consistent with this belief, we shall work with you to pass the Industrial Development and Competitiveness Bill which you have developed;

* strengthening, with additional resources and personnel, the Standards Board and the Food and Drugs Board to protect the health and safety of consumers, as well as shield local industries from unfair competition. For example, the lack-lustre enforcement of standards that permits dumping of sub-standard aluminium sheets onto our markets harms the public and weakens our industry. This must cease. Furthermore, we shall strengthen the National Board of Small Scale Industry (NBSSI) to provide technical support to small businesses.

Sixth, my government will address the multiplicity of tax and tariff regimes to support industry by:

* working with the business community to introduce appropriate reforms to consolidate and reduce the tax burden on business. We shall establish a new TARIFF ADVISORY BOARD as the vehicle for the dialogue;

*reviewing, on an urgent basis, the scope, effectiveness, attitude and culture of Customs, Excise and Preventive Services (CEPS), in order to make it more effective, transparent and business-friendly in its operations;

* giving a boost to manufacturing, through the introduction, within 12 months of assuming office, of the necessary legislation to reduce corporate taxes to 15% for the manufacturing sector.

Seventh, you will have unprecedented access to and consultation with the highest levels of government in policy-making.

To achieve this, I hereby commit to meeting the leadership of this Association every THREE months, with the relevant Ministers, to exchange views and to consult. Furthermore, during presidential trips abroad, businessmen and women, selected through the AGI, PEF and Chamber of Commerce, will be included, to facilitate exchange of ideas and experiences and to encourage partnership formation.

While each of these individual steps will make some difference, I am convinced that the fulcrum around which all these must revolve is a well co-ordinated executive branch, with the President at the centre, ensuring consistently that all parts of the government, through its culture, attitude and temperament, work in harmony to assist the progress of industry. Government departments will not be permitted to work at cross-purposes to frustrate you as you try to remove obstacles to your industry. They will collaborate with each other to remove those obstacles. My government shall operate on the principle that the interests of industry and the nation are one and the same and that in serving one, we serve both.

8.0 PROMOTING VALUE-ADDITION

Ladies and gentlemen, the current worldwide food shortages and resultant increases in prices have underlined the need for food security for our country. Furthermore, we must add as much value as possible to our primary products. We shall have food security and add value to our agricultural products by:

* increasing productivity through the provision of irrigation, higher-yielding seeds, storage facilities and road networks;

* the establishment of AGRO-BASED INDUSTRIES in each of the regions based on the local strengths that will have the goal of making us self-sufficient and help us add value to our agricultural products. I see industries based on value addition to shea-butter, cocoa, palm oil, cassava etc spread all across the country from North to South, in rural and urban areas;

* creating forward and backward linkages between agricultural products and industry. For example, cassava can be used as a raw material for the production of starch, sugar and industrial alcohol that are all used in other industries. Thus, the development of such industries creates a ready market for cassava that increases demand;

* providing incentives for addition to investments in the extractive and timber industries.

The focus of our drive for food security and value-addition will be the northern sector of our country. With the right investments in irrigation to permit farming all year round, storage facilities, high yielding seeds and the necessary infrastructure, capped by an ultra-modern airport that will make Tamale the gateway to the Sahel, the benefits of the BUI DAM and a multitude of agro-based industries, the North can and will be the driver of our economic transformation, not the drain on our resources many think it is.

That is why during my KNUST ENERGY address, I pledged that, if elected President, my administration would augment significantly the Northern Development Fund. I stand resolutely by that pledge. The North is on the verge of transformation and you must be there to drive it. The unity, progress and prosperity of our nation require it.

9.0 NEW PILLARS OF GROWTH

As we seek to grow our manufacturing sector, we must enhance productivity in critical industries, invest in manpower and develop Technology/Research parks.

CRITICAL INDUSTRIES

My government will support the iron smeltering, aluminium and salt industries, which produce vital ingredients to so many industries, by providing financial incentives as well as legal and regulatory reforms to:

* promote the establishment of iron and steel industries;

* promote the development of an integrated aluminium industry that will support many other industries. This will involve the development of an aluminium refinery and the encouragement of the necessary investments that will make Ghana not only the centrepiece of the aluminium industry in West Africa, but, also, a legitimate rival of South Africa on our continent;

* encourage new investments in limestone and cement production to support the use of local raw materials for construction;

* encourage investments in paper and pulp production;

* give the salt industry a shot in the arm. A salt industry, financed through public-private-partnerships and run with world-class expertise, will be a good foundation for both the energy and petrochemical industries. It represents also a potentially large source of foreign revenues if we are able to penetrate effectively the considerable salt importing market of our great Nigerian neighbour.

The development of a truly indigenous cement industry, producing at reasonable costs, will give our housing industry a significant boost that will help us close the housing gap and, in the process, provide hundreds of thousands of well-paying jobs for artisans, plumbers, carpenters and others whose skills are indispensable to the housing industry.

In addition to these, we shall link pension reforms and the resultant increase in savings to a revitalised mortgage business that, together with proper planning, can unleash a housing and construction boom, the like of which our country has never experienced.

ENERGY/OIL INDUSTRY

It is clear that energy is an important and necessary requirement for industry. As the recent load-shedding demonstrated, problems with the price, quality and reliability of energy can do harm to industry. As I explained in my KNUST speech, while we still have untapped capacity in the hydro area, that capacity is limited.

Therefore, we need to rely more on gas to provide electricity. Fortunately, our newly discovered oil has gas reserves that, if properly managed, can be used to provide adequate and reliable energy to our industries. These reserves can augment and ultimately replace Nigerian gas in the West African Gas Pipeline (WAGP).

Therefore, taking advantage of the opportunities opened to us by the recent oil discoveries, my government will make the necessary investments to ensure the interests of industry and the public at large by:

* ensuring adequate reliable and affordable energy supply;

* investments in renewable energy against the day when the wells ran dry;

* assuring that Ghanaian businesses become the major beneficiaries of the expected five billion USD of supplies and services that will be required by the oil companies over the next three years.

INVESTMENTS IN MANPOWER FOR INDUSTRIES

Ladies and gentlemen, despite all that I have said, nothing will be possible without people with the knowledge and skills to put all the other resources together. I am determined that primarily Ghanaians will drive the manufacturing development that we seek for the benefit of Ghanaians. We shall ensure that Ghanaians have the skills to participate by:

* investing in educational institutions at all levels to support the training of tradesmen, technicians, agricultural extension workers, engineers, scientists and accountants;

* encouraging with incentives and resettlement assistance, where necessary, Ghanaians in the Diaspora to return with their skills and resources to consult, attach, work and invest here at home;

* providing grants for life-long learning to help workers upgrade and acquire new skills;

* incorporation of local-content provision clauses into our agreements to give more opportunities to local entrepreneurs.

SCIENCE/TECHNOLOGY PARKS

The development of SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY RESARCH PARKS linked to our Universities will encourage a strong focus on research and development and the deployment of the results in industry. These will be characterised by:

* designated land near universities with the facilities for university/business scientists to search for solutions to the problems of industry with formal ownership by university;

* encouragement of attachments, internships and training for students and young business recruits.

* the linking of industrial parks to specific research parks and universities.

I foresee, under this scheme, various universities and polytechnics specialising in research into the problems of specific industries. I foresee KNUST collaborating with SUAME MAGAZINE to address questions and find more productive ways of vehicle maintenance and down the line, this partnership involving Apostle Safo to test and market his inventions.

These collaborations will form new partnerships and spawn new businesses for the benefit of universities and businesses alike. In fact, I look forward to the day when our Universities will become BUSINESS INCUBATION CENTRES that will routinely move concepts developed in the laboratories of our institutions into production and generate significant revenues on their own. On the other hand, I also foresee challenges identified on the shop floor being taken to the laboratories of our higher institutions for solutions to be developed.

10.0 FULL ENGAGEMENT WITH ECOWAS AND AFRICA IN CONTINENTAL INTEGRATION TO PROMOTE TRADE

My government shall intensify and accelerate our engagement with other nations in the region and on the continent to create and expand markets. Our model here will be the European Community that has brought so much prosperity to the peoples of Europe. The European and other examples have demonstrated beyond doubt the value of genuine integration. Currently, Nigeria has banned about 72 commodities from Ghana. We should reverse this and work to open new markets, not just in our region but across the continent.

Currently, only 12% percent of Africa's trade is intra-African trade. It is estimated that customs and tariff reform, together with harmonisation of rail gauges and truck axels, can lead to a doubling of intra-African trade in a few years. Such free movements of people, goods and services will require our leaders to engage one another in the service of peace, greater understanding and collaboration.

It is disheartening to hear of fellow Africans, who travel to other African countries to work and to trade, being preyed on by citizens and sometimes by the very security forces whose duty should be to protect them. We need to ensure that those visiting other nations in search of peaceful trade and commerce are protected by all governments across our region and continent. As I speak, South Africa is in the midst of a sudden upsurge of violence against foreigners.

Whether it is in dealing with the ban by Nigeria on imports from Ghana and other ETLS issues or other related problems, I believe that my experience as Foreign Minister, with strong connections across our continent, will stand me in good stead in resolving issues, strengthening partnerships where they exist, forming new ones where needed and in promoting peace and collaboration in our region and continent.

Therefore, as President, I will champion all initiatives amongst African countries that further the cause of genuine integration so that the African peoples can go about their lawful business in conditions of security and thereby help promote commerce, business and prosperity in our region and continent. Also, to help Ghanaian businesses to take advantage of the better and more peaceful trade relationships, I shall assign trade and technical experts to Ghana's missions abroad, to assist businesses in finding, nurturing and developing relationships with potential partners.

MY CHALLENGE TO INDUSTRY

Ladies and gentlemen, my party believes that, while government is important in laying the foundations of our economic transformation, only entrepreneurs like you can create the jobs and bring the innovations that will generate the well-paying jobs that can lift the living standards of our people. During my Presidency, government will move from the red tape you are accustomed to while dealing with government, to red-carpet treatment.

For example, in the United States, nearly 80% of new jobs are created by small businesses started by individuals. Also, in places as diverse as China, Chile and Singapore, Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) create most jobs. Therefore, while my government will do its part to create the necessary environment for a strong manufacturing industry, you too must do your part. You must be good corporate citizens interested in more than profits. You must join us in fighting corruption and sustaining an environment supportive of the best practices in business and industry across the globe.

Also, you must reach out to one another and to your brothers and sisters in the Diaspora, to create the partnerships and linkages that will make you and our country, winners on the global stage.

Ladies and gentlemen, the strength of a nation depends to a large extent on its economic vitality. To be the proud and confident nation we aspire to be, we must have strong and vibrant industries, that produce most of what we need and then more for export. We cannot be a strong self-reliant nation when we import virtually everything and only export mainly primary products.

Our nation needs a generation of entrepreneurs who, by their dynamism and sense of enterprise and initiative, will create efficient, competitive industries that will provide gainful employment for the youth of our nation and prosperity for the broad masses of our people.

CONCLUSION

The agenda that I have laid before you is ambitious but achievable. Too often, our nation has been characterised by governments with good plans on paper and mediocre execution in practice. I will be a doer, not just a talker. I know that government is about doing and we shall be up and doing from the moment my inauguration is over. But my party and I cannot do this alone. Therefore, I ask for your help. With your permission, as I travel around, I shall visit with your members in the regions whenever possible, to see your problems first-hand and to exchange ideas with your members.

You and I know that so many who are involved in industry and other businesses are in the informal sector. My conviction is that as we work together to demonstrate that government is your ally, not your enemy, more of them will come out of the shadowy world of the informal sector, to have access to the buffet of resources, technology and talent that are available and also to pay taxes.

During this address, I have shared with you my conviction on the centrality of industry to our economic transformation. Guided by the lights of the paths that others took successfully in the past, we must make our own way.

Also, I have laid out the crucial role that government must play in this transformation. It is my belief that, while the private sector should lead the process of social and economic transformation and growth, our government should not stand by or inadvertently contribute to the burdens of entrepreneurs as they try to advance. The government must be an active and engaged ally, helping our businesses every step of the way. To achieve this, I shall relentlessly co-ordinate government action on behalf of Ghanaian businesses.

Furthermore, I have stated repeatedly, here and elsewhere, my commitment to making the Ghanaian central to our transformation.

Therefore, my trinity for our development is simply put industry, government and the Ghanaian economic operator.

I believe that Ghanaians must do the difficult work of building Ghana. No foreign country, institutions or persons will build Ghana for us. Ghanaians will do the hard work of building this nation, if it is to be done. The Americans built America. The British built Britain and Ghanaians must build Ghana. We must build a nation where producing something is more rewarding than just buying and selling. You are the vanguard of the army that will build that nation.

Together, we must make deep, dramatic and sustained cuts in unemployment and under-employment. In the next five years, on the back of the transformation of the North, the critical industries we hope to establish and strengthen, and the addition of value to agricultural products with increases in demand, we hope to create nearly one and a half million good well-paying jobs. From then on, we must, year on year, create enough jobs for those entering the job market and absorb more of those sitting at the margins of our economic prosperity.

I believe that I will live to see the day when there are ten Aluworks that together will put Ghana in the front-ranks of aluminium-producing nations. These industries will spawn in their wake construction workers, drivers and artisans and others in the industries that are made possible.

I believe I will live to see the day when SAMBA and its cohorts control a majority of the 'SHITO' market in the world! Just leave a little of the 'SHITO' here for those of us kenkey lovers.

I believe I will live to see the day when we only export fully processed cocoa!

I believe I will live to see the day when the north is the granary of West Africa and the driving force of our economic transformation!

I can go on and on but you get the picture.

I know there are some who think that believing in Ghana is old-fashioned and maybe not very important. Some argue that a good plan, technically sound, put together by some gifted technocrats in Washington, London or Zurich and well implemented will work for us.

I believe our destiny must be determined here in Ghana, by Ghanaians, from home and abroad, of all faiths, all regions and ethnicities, working together. I BELIEVE IN THE IDEA OF GHANAIANS WORKING TOGETHER, REGARDLESS OF WHERE THEY ARE, TO LIFT THIS COUNTRY UP…AND SO MUST YOU! And I will continue to say, I BELIEVE IN GHANA!

Let us make her an example unto the nations here in Africa and around the world. Let us build her into the free, productive and prosperous nation our founders dreamt of so that we can bequeath her to our children and their children with pride!

We are moving forward! Yenko yanim!

May God bless the AGI!

May God bless the NPP!

May God bless Ghana and all of us!

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