22.10.2013 Feature Article


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Ministry of foreign affairs is an important arm of government and the Minister plays a major advisory role in assisting the President in selecting his nominees to foreign offices. These nominees most importantly are the ambassadors who represent Ghana in different countries. The fundamental objective of their job and the mission of their office are to harness a relationship with foreign nations that will pave the way to penetrate their domestic markets with unequivocal motive of generating revenues and repatriating proceeds back to Ghana to finance developing projects. But our foreign missions abroad have failed time again and again; they missed the boat on the above. And in the absence of understanding the objectives of such an office, Ghana's missions or consulates abroad remain uninformed thereby has become a mission noted for organizing and participating in high powered loans and grants seminars and banquets.

Whereas, developed nations enter into diplomatic relationship with Ghana to deepen their friendship with government and better their chances of exploiting Ghana's human and local resources for their domestic economy. Even with this singular act, Ghana notoriously either ignorant, bad leadership or lack of courage adamantly refused to initiate a realistic approach in appointing finance and foreign ministry employees that can help Ghana achieve same benefits abroad. In other words, Ghana must establish a finance and foreign ministry task-force with savvy business mandate to penetrate western domestic markets with a clear policy focus of investment and repatriation of windfall profits to Ghana.

Foreign nationals especially non Africans receive enormous financial support from their home governments. These assistants in most cases go to finance foreign local research, market penetration, profit and non-profit organizations.

The Western nations pay unambiguous attention to their foreign operations, due to the fact that domestic economic growth relies heavily on successful international investments. Therefore it becomes an absolute policy focus to find a niche in engaging profusely with other nations for bigger chunk of their domestic economy.

This attitude is exactly what is missing in Ghana's finance and foreign affairs agenda. The foreign strategy operation of the West is guarded by resolutions; procedures and step by step formula in advocating and supporting exploitation of foreign local resources within the framework of philanthropic engagements and business interests.

These western propound foreign policy footnote maneuvers, are in the public domain for our government, finance and foreign ministries to emulate. But Ghana failed miserably in this important aspect of foreign ministry interventions and subventions, whereas nations like China, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Brazil, Iran, and United Arab Emirates, just to mention a few. They have taken a cue from the arterial motive in Western foreign operations. This cue has enabled them to reshape their own twenty-first century foreign policy agenda.

The Chinese paradigm in penetrating Western domestic economies reiterated certain tenets worth imitating. The Chinese first move was to acknowledge the fact that China cannot compete directly with US and European domestic markets. Therefore they choose indirect infiltration,” I called it back-door market penetration” the establishment of heavily finance Chinese cuisines and markets in Europe and US to cater for Chinese communities in various cities known as China towns. And the initial results yielded blockbuster financial and economic benefit.

It is therefore noted that, foreign governments that are financially and economically savvy use humanitarian or philanthropic gestures to tackle vital information on developing nations socio-economic deprivation e.g. Ghana. For instance, they use tourism or exchange programs as necessary conduit to penetrate Ghanaian markets. Australian government recently announced building polyclinic at Bomponegya, a suburb of Twifo-Praso, to serve the communities around the area. Secondly, the Dutch government is funding Ghc 63,000 water closet for Oblogo schools in the Ga South municipality. The question therefore how did the Australian and Dutch governments got to know the health and educational challenges of the area? The recent approval of a loan from the World Bank and IMF for Ghana to construct a newly re-designed ring road circle intersections, is another important domestic foreign investment of the West that will give them a favorable concession in Ghana's oil, gas exploration and other business interests with future prospect of maximizing returns.

Christian children's fund of Canada an NGO also instituted programs in education, health, sanitation, child sponsorships and micro credit facilities, which cover 15 districts in the Northern region with 72 communities. They are now ready to move into Upper East and Brong-Ahafo regions with funding coming from the Canadian taxpayer (Canadian tax revenue department). European Union pledges to 3million Euros for Ghana's agriculture in the Northern corridor. Indian government through private partnership built a cricket court for Ghana. The IMF and the World Bank financing Zoom lion, health insurance, gyeeda, and agriculture etc.

These moves sometimes look too good to be true but our government accepts them due to diplomatic sanctions and financial sympathy Ghana gets out of it. For that matter, government, finance and foreign ministries most often pay lip service to the massive unfair trade partnerships going on in Ghana's economy. Ironically, Ghana foreign missions abroad do not attach any seriousness in figuring out the foreign operational strategy and policy statement of developed countries. Furthermore, no attempt is made to explore how the strategies and policies were used in engaging other nations especially the third world countries like Ghana.

In short our foreign mission officials and the ministers for finance and foreign affairs often under-rate the value and importance developed nation's attach to the operations of their NGO's in the world. For example, the US promised recently to send teachers to teach in Ghana “Teachers for Africa” Belinda and Bill Gates foundation, these are programs very unique and crucial to America's foreign policy focus in relation to Ghana, Africa and the rest of the underdeveloped economies. A program that is similar to Peace Corp days where the US provided teachers to teach in Ghana's impoverish communities.

Many western governments use these platforms and many more to win some ridiculous contracts and frivolous economic partnerships with Ghana. For example, concession on gold, diamond, bauxite, cocoa, timber and most recent ones are oil, gas, and telecommunication industries which are all been massively been exploited with the blessings of government officials.

For instance, the Chinese loans and handouts which foreign affairs and Bank of Ghana negotiated and received on behalf of the people of Ghana, also paved the way for Chinese to infiltrate our textile, cement, and gold (galamsey episodes) domestic markets. The Chinese are on the verge of chocking our domestic markets, the Chinese are competing aggressively with our local industries rendering them bankrupt or on the brink of folding up.

The Chinese foreign ministry unraveled the western foreign core policy field operation plans, and they used it to rediscover their new upscale economic and financial opportunities. The consequences of the Chinese paradigm shift in international affairs speak for itself, no matter how unrefined, appalling and reprehensible the foreign affairs policy and strategy implementation.

On that same note, if we look at the operations in many developed countries, the Chinese foreign mission could not initially use western approach of market penetration strategy (NGO's etc) therefore the Chinese targeted and patronized its own foreign Chinese community workforce and its economic potentials. The Chinese introduced huge capital investment in Chinese cuisines (restaurants) and markets, (1) to absorb its available workforce and (2) to use its financial returns to influence various governments (foreign domestic policy makers) institutions to allow china to compete in their domestic markets. In so doing the West and other countries began to see China in a different light, thus as equal economic and political partner on the world stage. Interestingly, it took the Chinese foreign ministry ingenuity and practical approach to uncover the financial and economic secret of the west in relation to their foreign operations. Undoubtedly, the Chinese also realized that the sustainable economic and financial relations the west enjoys with other countries came at a price (i.e. using tax payer's contributions of the West for foreign philanthropic gestures, sympathy compromises, and Non Profit Organizations).

But the Chinese foreign ministry did something different worth emulating which I have already touched on, but I will come back to it again later, however, the foreign ministry and the executive branch of government in Ghana must understand that, the secret unveiled by the Chinese was that the west use religion as an official path to establish a relationship with third world nations (common knowledge). And there are other groups of people on that same path whose task is collection of intelligent data on the host countries. The content of the data often relates to the landscape, the people, their resources, and language, social, religion and ethnic groupings. This meant while others are preaching the word of God others busy gathering data on Ghana or the host country. Now the western world is now seriously sponsoring indigenous Ghanaian elites, churches etc. to step in and collect these data on their behalf. The data analysis identifies impoverish segment of the country, and a task force or an NGO is brought in to institute programs that will help alleviate problems and upscale living standard of the people. The process then becomes a stepping stone foreign governments use to bargain for better concessions on viable commercial contracts and business acquisitions.

For example, if you present yourself as mal-nourished and an important personality comes along and provide you with basic necessity of life, put smile on your face, and the person turn around and ask you for your land or offer you some preposterous offer (money) to take your land or any family resources, will you say NO? Of course not! You have no choice but to accept the ludicrous offer. Another example was the Peace Corp (teachers) from America, sent to teach in Ghana as humanitarian gesture to aid Ghana's educational system, but turn out to be an effective and successful tool in collecting data on our people and eventually succeeding in taken over Ghana's foreign earner resources (minerals, oil, gas, cocoa, and timber) and export markets.

I have no qualms with these attitudes of the West, because these are the benefits of properly managed foreign embassies, whose only foreign target is to look for diverse ways to generate foreign revenues and capital that can be repatriated to their respective home governments. The West has done it for years and now the Chinese and Brazilians are aggressively in the game scavenging everywhere to generate foreign revenue for their home countries. But what is Ghana's foreign mission experience thus far? Ghana embassies abroad are known to attend and organize diplomatic loans and grants seminars and banquets in search of donors who will sympathize with Ghana against future production of Ghana's raw materials e.g. oil, gas, cocoa, gold, diamond etc.

Now to my foreign ministry administrators, what I want to know is why are you not adopting same method to foster relationship with the west and other nations? I want to be candid in dealing with these chronic and diabolic issues of Ghana's foreign operations. I have twenty seven years experience outside Ghana, and not withstanding my annual three months minimum visitation to Ghana. I was privileged to observe and dealt a great deal with other nationals and their foreign ministries operations. Although not always in a formal setting, I think the issue I am about to raise will provide a realistic plan of action for Ghana's foreign ministry similar to the Chinese experience abroad. The Chinese have used same methodology though with a little twist in achieving positive recognition from nations and subsequent patronage of their domestic markets.

Throughout Europe, America and emerging developing markets (nations), China's foreign ministry organizes and encourages consumption of Chinese local dishes. This sound weird but to reiterate, china provides huge financial support in this venture, building of huge Chinese markets and restaurants. These foreign ministry initiatives have created huge job opportunities for it citizens and also buildup enormous foreign capital reserves. The Chinese foreign missions managed this initial initiative very well thus maximizing the potentials of their people in bringing China to the doorsteps of the western world.

Fortunately attitudes on both sides yielded synergy that translates into economic and political partnerships which revolve around the Chinese cuisine. Interestingly, the Chinese model surface with a comprehensive economic collaboration between the Chinese and Western communities which gave way to limited Chinese banks catering mainly for Chinese communities under the auspices of western domestic banks.

Having said all these, Ghana foreign ministry must take a serious nod from the above experience and mould the ministries foreign operations and objectives to adhere to tenets of the above Chinese and Western experiences. This in my view will stop the subservient attitude that encourages continuous policy of appealing and entreating nations for handouts and loans for Ghana's development projects.

Hence, the first order of transformation is to consider seriously establishing a taskforce mandated to build a heavily financed Ghanaian cuisine and food markets in every major Western city especially in heavily populated Ghanaian communities just like the Chinese. This is going to be a private government partnership abroad, this step of market penetration has been the stepping stone for Jews, Italians, Indian, Japanese, Chinese, Pakistanis, Bangladesh and our brothers Ethiopians and Somalians in the US and Europe.

As these countries began to realize good returns on initial cuisine and traditional investments abroad, they now have surplus cash on hand for other economic viable ventures. For example, Jews now controlled the diamond, gold, New York taxi medallions and real estate's industries. So one can see that the long-term support the Israelis foreign office gave these initial ventures in foreign countries, earned them immense financial cushion and power to influence any political system in the world to support policies that will protect Israel. Italian restaurants pave way to many capital and labor intensive money making businesses e.g. employment at US ports and harbors for Italian citizens, labor unions, huge construction projects, macaroni imports to the United States, and finally pizza huts now franchise in most developed countries. The Pakistanis have equal experience in building huge markets that cater or sell not only Pakistanis products but indigenous produce of developing nations. Now the Pakistanis as I write have entered the petroleum industry in the US and have at least 45% of petrol station and convenient store markets. The Bangladesh secured great financial support from diverse group of their citizens under the protective eye of their foreign embassies to invest in mobile fast food restaurants. As a result the Bangladesh have taken a chunk of US fast food restaurants and put them on wheels serving breakfast and lunch in the Western cities. Indians also started well with restaurants, motels and private health offices and today Indians have dominated these foreign domestic industries which gave them a huge chunk of foreign revenues for them to bring the West to India as equal partners and players in each other's domestic economy. It is also to note that most of these foreign missions abroad (Europe and US) have their own insurance, welfare organizations including national banks which take care of their day to day affairs and finances.

Having said all these, the paradigm shift focus is how Ghana's foreign ministry can use these experiences to halt the unpatriotic borrowing machines of our governments. And thereby accumulate wealth from Ghanaian citizens abroad for national development. For example, when Ghana policy focus was to salvage Ghana Commercial Bank, the foreign ministry approached Ghanaians communities abroad for help, and for that singular act many Ghanaians abroad now owned shares in GCB.

Ghana finance and foreign Ministries must embark on organizational strategy that will look at various investment potentials in the Ghanaian communities abroad. Again as a reminder, the Chinese have their cuisine and markets abroad as startup initial financial mechanism which is use in supporting numerous Western domestic agenda (support for community schools, clinics and hospitals, various political parties). The Chinese copied and produced everything of the West that is influencing their people; a magnificent, unique and germane method of controlling the huge Chinese market both home and abroad.

Therefore Ghana finance and foreign ministry obligation is to invest heavily in Ghanaian cuisine and market abroad, and this must not be taken lightly. Developed nations principal foreign focus is to influence developing nations with their attitudes, culture and especially with their cuisines. Consequently the market shares of those consumable foreign cuisines and products increases in value given comfortable financial returns to nations of developed world. Most recent ongoing undertaking is the Kentucky fried chicken of US (KFC Restaurant) investing heavily in the Ghanaian market. Ghana must try to do same thing and the first such investment is to establish Ghanaian markets and restaurants that will feature Ghanaian cuisine, Kenkey, shitto, fried/baked fish etc in the US and Europe.

The bottom line is the Foreign Ministry must use the same game plan to bring Ghana to the doorsteps of the West. If Ghana take the bull by the horn and implement initial investment plan, Ghana's generation unborn will wallow in wealth and prestige, because Ghana will control the flow of foreign capital potentials from abroad.

The Chinese rock of foreign success is built on introduction of fried rice into the western market. Many of us think rice is a western stable food but is not rather rice is an Asian food which has comfortably found its way into our African cuisines. That is the reason why the foreign ministry must introduce Ghanaian food (restaurants) and markets into western domestic markets to change the current dynamics in our foreign relations. Therefore Ghana Ministry of Foreign Affairs forging alliance with the Ghanaian communities abroad with this laudable investment policy focus scheme will be critical and plausible. Hence this plan will go a long way not only to comprehend the financial strength of Ghanaian ethnic groups abroad but their individual market share in their respective industries.

For example, industries that are patronized by Ghanaians abroad e.g chauffeur taxi, trucking, nursing assistants/homes, and other professionals (doctors, engineers, lawyers, and teachers/lecturers) are multi-million dollar industries. And Ghanaians are controlling huge proportion of the said markets. The current individual approach makes the Ghanaian populace a working class always at the mercy of other well organized financial organizations and institutions. For instance if we take the taxi industry in New York alone we have the Livery taxi, limousine taxi and yellow cab taxi divisions. For example, the yellow cab taxi division of New York City has a special certificate rubber seal called medallion which can be purchased or leased. This medallion is prerequisite for yellow taxi venture. The medallion is emboss on the hood of each yellow cab, and the cost of one medallion is approx. one hundred and fifty thousand dollars ($150,000) same as owning a home in the US and Europe. However, if the driver cannot afford it, he or she can finance the equipment (car) rent the medallion at the weekly cost of $950 approximately from an individual broker or company. If my accounting is correct in three years the broker should be able to recover close to his or her initial investment. The medallions however, always appreciate in value. So imagine if the government of Ghana allows Bank of Ghana and foreign affairs to divert fifteen million dollars of some of the borrowing from the west into purchasing of 100 medallions in the US for Ghanaian drivers, in three years that loan could be paid back and Ghana will still continue to realize $15,000,000 if not more every three years.

Therefore the finance and foreign ministries must take keen interest in various jobs Ghanaians are involved in, the size of individual markets and their worth. This knowledge will help identify groups of Ghanaian businesses abroad the ministry will help finance to maximize government foreign reserves potentials. The idea is to support Ghanaian businesses that will help generate foreign revenue/currencies for Ghana which will otherwise be borrowed from the west with interest. Establishment of Ghanaian bank and brokerage firm will definitely go a long way in opening up many possibilities in supporting existing Ghanaian businesses abroad, thus freeing them from the snags of foreign banks. One of such possibility is the vast market share of Ghanaian taxi drivers whose potentials illustrated earlier. Ghanaian Nurses and home assistants in the western world are also huge markets which Ghanaians are heavily involved, and if organize effectively under the ministry of foreign affairs/Health their voluntary contributions alone can finance gargantuan local industries and clinics in constituent and district levels in Ghana that can absorb a good number of unemployed graduates and non graduates. Let alone the prospects of huge capital investment in nursing homes and management will also yield comfortable returns for Ghana. Even without touching other Ghanaian illustrious professionals abroad, Ghana can embark on democratic and economic journey that is self reliant and beneficial to all players and the host countries as well.

The Europeans, the Americans, the Chinese in Ghana are doing it; because they are not in Ghana for child's play their mission is to grab a market that can yield good returns on their foreign investment. Australian Government is cited to have a good rapport with the government and people of Ghana therefore qualify for concessions in Ghana's economy.

Though weird and childish in the eyes of some, government must oblige Ghana's foreign ministry to penetrate foreign domestic markets with much needed fanaticism for our children that are on the verge of graduating from high institutions of learning without jobs. As a way forward the minister must surround herself with realistic foreign savvy administrators to start such a herculean system.

The Ghanaian foreign ministry must wakeup to the 21stcentury hawkish economics and financial attitudes playing on the world stage in other to build a strong foreign cash earner institutions for generation yet unborn. Ghana can draw on Ghanaians living abroad for their patronage and support in tapping aggressively into the western domestic markets. If government of Ghana can solicit funding for infrastructural development and allows foreigners from whom we borrowed the money come into Ghana and outbid our local contractors, and turn around to repatriate most of the payment receives back to their respective home countries, then all I am saying is that Ghana foreign missions abroad can achieve same goal. If we invest heavily in Ghanaian businesses abroad, we can generate enough cash to support foreign government's domestic programs visa-vis policies that can favor and protect Ghanaian businesses and easy repatriation of profit to Ghana.

I hope my humble submission will found favor with you for further dialogue in helping to educate the various players in government and Ghanaians abroad.

God bless our homeland
Yao Fiagbeto

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