Tue, 24 Feb 2009 Feature Article

Democracy and Infrastructure Investment

Democracy and Infrastructure Investment

Do you think NDC or NPP care about Ghanaians look at their record? NDC ruled Ghana for 8 years and NPP has also ruled for 8 years. Did any of them help to make Ghana a developed country? Did any of them solve the unemployment problem in Ghana? How about education and health? Look at the roads in Ghana. Do we deserve that? Any person who has been to Europe, Asia or America can say for sure that both major parties have not done much for Ghanaians.

Look at the state of Ghana's manufacturing sector. What do we produce? Virtually nothing. What do we do with the cocoa that we produce? We only export the raw beans for peanuts. How about the gold and the diamond and the many minerals we mine? They are exported to Switzerland and Dubai before Ghanaians go there to buy the wedding rings and bracelets to sell to Ghanaians. Computers, cars, mobile phones, fridges are made in Europe, Japan and the US and it is affordable but Ghanaians cannot buy common chocolate even though the vital raw material which is cocoa is made here. And the same is true about gold and diamond. We cannot buy them even though they are mined right here.

Look at the state of the agricultural sector. How many of our farmers have their own tractors and farming equipments to produce beyond the level of subsistence? Virtually none. Virtually all the important equipments needed to make the agric sector viable and productive have to be imported and how many of our farmers have their own resources to buy even the basic machinery to expand their farms? Although we are in the 21st Century yet our farming practices indicate that we have still not moved beyond the 19th century. This is the more reason why we continue to hunger even though rich soils abound in Ghana. We under utilise our land for lack of political commitment.

Look at the policies of the two major parties and see if they can even put Ghana on the level of Korea, Taiwan or Hong Kong in the next 20 years. Ghanaian business men are frequenting Dubai and China importing every good you can think of. Investigate to find out how the Chinese and co did it and whether any of the parties can help Ghana do the same.

Look at the state of infrastructure in Ghana: roads, harbours, telecommunication, health, education, market and airport. We have neglected the few that Nkrumah built yet we have forgotten that no nation no matter the size of the natural resources that she has can develop without investing in infrastructure. That is why Democratic Republic of Congo has every mineral you can think of yet they are one of the poorest in the world. That is why Malaysia, Korea, Taiwan, Singapore, Hong Kong have developed and that is why President Elect Obama is talking about building US infrastructures because they are the engines that run the economy. You cannot export if you do not have harbours and airports to support it. You cannot attract tourists if you do not have airport, hotels and other infrastructure that support it. You cannot move goods from centres of production to centres of consumption if you do not have roads, rail lines and inland water infrastructure to deliver it. You cannot supply the industries with doctors, architects, bankers, lawyers, planners, engineers, teachers, nurses if you do not have the educational infrastructure to deliver it. And you cannot run an efficient and vibrant economy if you do not have the energy and telecommunication infrastructures in place. Ghana has been experiencing serious disruptions in the energy sector for years and no political party has seen any wisdom to solve. As a result factories are folding up and are laying off workers and we are waiting for nature to help fill Akosombo Dam before we rectify the problem. Can these do nothing approaches to problem solving help our nation? What are we doing with the abundance of sunshine in the country? We have not taken advantage of it, have we? We have sunshine 365 days and we have not tap into solar energy which is cheap and more reliable than hydro. It is another indication of the useless institutions that we have and lip service paid by the various political parties and their leaders to development. Look around yourselves and see if any of the goods you see are made in Ghana I mean the mobile phones, computers, televisions, cars and all the flashy things that Ghanaians are crazing for. It is sad to note that almost all the raw materials needed to build these phones, cars etc are obtained from Ghana and other African countries.

How about the state of the housing infrastructure? A visit to any village or town gives the same picture of poor housing and poor quality of public service. People are living in mud/thatched houses with bamboo leaf as roofing sheet with no electricity, potable water and clinics. They live in a subsistence environment without social security, health insurance and are condemned to poverty, desperation and hopelessness. Those living in urban areas are without jobs, without mortgage, and face high utility bills with poor service. They face constant barrage of water and energy disruptions everyday. In every region the situation is not different. On the other hand our MPs, ministers, vice president, the president, their cronies and families live in total luxury with mansions, SUVs, bodyguards, fat salaries, fat bonuses, house servants and they have all the resources of the state at their disposal. Yet they claim to be serving the people. How can it be?

And how about our education sector upon which the development of the nation rest? It is nothing to write home about. Isn't it? Look at the world ranking of Universities and see where the first university falls. Can we afford to develop the nation with low quality graduates not to mention the millions of illiterates and semi-literates that roam around the country? Of the about 9,760 Accredited universities in the World, Ghana's prominent universities including University of Ghana and Kwame Nkrumah University of 'Science and Technology' only managed to place 5,702 and 6,703 positions respectively in the World University Ranking. Even in Africa, our own backyard they only managed to secure 43rd and 63rd positions respectively.(Source: It is abundantly clear that our education system is not producing the architects, engineers, planners, bankers, lawyers, doctors, teachers, social workers, nurses and the scientists that we need in the 21st Century. That is why every major architectural and engineering activity in Ghana is undertaken by foreigners and foreign companies especially from USA, Japan, China, India and Europe. And any nation that depends on foreign expertise for her survival is doom to fail in the long run. The Universities lack well trained lecturers. They lack modern facilities such as state of the art libraries, laboratory simulation facilities, studios, computers, and books. They lack them because we cannot build them; we cannot build them because the curricula have not prepared our students to build them. As a result we have to import the equipments and books from countries that have done their home work well and have invested heavily in education notably in science and technology. In many of our universities, Polytechnics and secondary schools lecturers/teachers are still teaching students the same way the 19th century academic institutions taught forgetting that we are in the 21st century. The same notes given a final year student four years ago are still being given to first year students with no addition and subtraction. Lecturers cannot write books for students because they do not have the resources to carry out research that form the basis of any academic material.

Whereas students in advanced countries get their hands on books immediately they are released those in Ghana have to wait 4 years or even more to get the same books. What is more the academic facilities including libraries are in a state too appalling to describe. Not a single of our universities can boast of a million volumes of books in their libraries. Even the few books that they have are so old that information contained in them are useless. Very few books have been published by Ghanaians. Due to this most students have to rely on the notes that lecturers give them. This is state of our universities and the little I say about our Polytechnics and secondary schools the better. Our research institutions have achieved very little because they are underfunded and the researchers do not have the expertise and the facilities to carry out any meaningful research. A case in point is Cocoa Research Institute of Ghana (CRIG) located at New Tafo in the Eastern Region. Despite decades of its existence we still export raw cocoa beans for peanuts. No value has been added to the cocoa. CRIG has not been able to come up with other ways in which to use the beans to benefit Ghanaians despite the mounting evidence that the beans have several potential uses.

Apart from the few things Dr. Nkrumah did in his 9 years of administration virtually nothing has been added to it by the various governments who came after him neither the NDC, NPP nor PNC.

I can continue all day but it is a fact that both the NDC and NPP are bunches of hungry politicians with no concrete economic and social agenda to move Ghana beyond the level of importing used computers, used cars, used televisions, used underwear and any used thing you can think of. What are all these telling you about Ghana, the NPP, and the NDC? Do we have any option not to vote for them? Until we have leaders who have visions and are committed to industrialising Ghana beyond agro raw material production, Ghana will continue to be classified as a developing and poor country and even though we will continue to vote we will continue to wallow in abject poverty.

However, whoever wins the election should focus his attention on building the infrastructures of the country including education, roads, harbours, airports, health, markets, telecommunication which will serve as the stepping to propel Ghana to industrialise.

He should have aggressive, solid and sound policies and programmes with a clear cut targets that will transform the nation and push it to the middle income level. My only advice to whoever wins is that if he fails to develop the nation then he should be prepared to be booted out office.

Ghanaians want employment, they want world class education, they want better health care and sanitation facilities, they want the cycle of poverty defeated, they want corruption fought at every level of government and they want to live in peace.

The industrialisation of the nation can be done. It can be done because South Korea has made it, Malaysia, Hong Kong, Singapore and Taiwan all have made it. Now Brazil, India and China (the BRIC nations) are on the path to make it. The question is how did they make or are making it? Investment in public infrastructure: telecommunication, technology, roads, airports, harbours and education with emphasise on science and technology. That is what is needed in Ghana.

His government should embark on large scale public infrastructure which will generate jobs and create the necessary environment for industrial take of. He should know that it is only by industrialising that he will be able to make Ghana the economic power house in Africa. He should revive most of the defunct industries Dr. Nkrumah created so that there will be jobs for Ghanaians. He should develop close economic ties with our neighbours in Africa. He should invest in education, establish exchange programmes for our students, give scholarships to students to study abroad, overhaul the entire education curricula from the universities to primary schools to meet the 21st Century challenges and demands, encourage the Ghanaian intelligentsia abroad to come home by offering them incentives and train and equip our teachers and lecturers so that they can deliver 21st Century education.

All ministries should be given a mandate to work to achieve results. Accountability in all government ministries should be pursued with vigour. The Auditor General Department should be strengthened It is only by pursuing aggressive economic policies that he can be sure of another victory in 2012. Otherwise his fate is sealed.

A word to the wise is enough.
Posted by: Lord Aikins Adusei, Stockholm-Sweden