05.11.2013 Feature Article

Ghana Foreign Ministry Can Attract FDI From Ghanaians Abroad Without Borrowing

Hanna TettehHanna Tetteh
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Fellow Ghanaians and distinguished Students of higher learning, Ghana foreign policy can attract all the foreign direct investment Ghana needs from Ghanaian abroad without begging the West for loans and grants.

Unfortunately, today Ghana foreign and finance ministries policies are striving or operating on western prepared scripts without understanding or ignoring the fine prints or the footnotes.

Therefore civil society and students of today must review Ghana and the Western foreign policies to bring to a closure foreign direct investment disparities. Indeed, if such an exercise is conducted it will open up further discussion on borrowing spree of our government after government policies, embedded in western foreign strategic operations and see if Ghana is a par with our donor and developed partners (US & Europe).

Such understanding will reveal the incapacitating state of the affairs of our foreign ministry, despite the glamorous presentations and the media hip of Ghana foreign ministry and regional integration policy focus.

I dare not call it a façade but to request a fundamental change or an added niche to the equation within their meadow of operations. Ghana foreign affairs and Regional Integration policy focus is entrenched in its vision and mission statements that is in conformity with its constitutional obligatory duties of advocating and securing the wellbeing of Ghana and its citizens abroad.

The Ministry is responsible for promoting friendly relations and economic cooperation between Ghana and other countries. The result is enhancing Ghana's image abroad through Ghanaian exports, tourism potentials and foreign investment (Ministry of foreign affairs).

The aims and the objective however, are mainly to promote and protect the interest of Ghana and its citizens abroad, but when the results turn opposite and our leaders remain comfortably in their status quo and trying hard to please and be rewarded for being an obedient western scholars, and boast of understanding very well the UN charter, then the future of generation to come is bleak.

Unless the following interjections like identifying and organizing Ghanaian ethnic groups and their related businesses are factored into the future field operations of the Ministry of Finance and Foreign Affairs.

The best practices which help developed nations to compete favorably as equal partners is espionage in good faith, thus spying and imitating products and services that have market value. In my previous take on these issues I mentioned Chinese cuisine and their heavily financed markets in the US and Europe. These markets and communities are called China towns, a market in the western countries that gave way to increases in China's cash intake in direct foreign domestic investment.

There is a notion that drives increase market shares and profit, that is, once you attract someone to your cuisine or ethnic menu, you are one step of increasing the market share of your domestic product. And when the client becomes religiously attached to your menu or cuisine the likelihood of that person patronizing every product that bears your name is 99% (e.g. china rice has become stable menu for most African families and now we are comfortably with anything from china).

Furthermore, the amount of foreign currencies Chinese would have been spending on European and US cuisines and markets is diverted into patronizing and increasing Chinese products and market shares. The Chinese manufacture, produce and market every consumable item for numerous china towns in US and Europe. I still maintained that introduction of Chinese menus and cuisines in the West were the basis of Chinese financial takeoff in the world today.

Why am I so convinced? It is because the western countries tried successfully to influence the Chinese and the Japanese to openly accept and assimilate the western taste and appetite into their culture e.g. cuisines, fashion and design, technology and marketing but the unexpected happened, US and Europe lost potential market shares. Even though, the Western mindset was to increase the market shares of US and European products in China. But the Chinese did not rescind the western influence but saw opportunities of a lifetime. The Chinese compete vigorously in providing those goods and services to their people both home and abroad. The Chinese have taken over most of the western manufacturing and technical industries. At first the Chinese were accused of imitation, copyright infringement, and later intellectual property misconduct etc. The Chinese response was, we were only trying to meet the demand of our domestic markets; ironically China is now the hub of every international business organization who is trying to maximize their manufacturing and marketing potentials.

Espionage, infringement, spying on foreign domestic activities is unwritten acceptable way of fair play. The footnotes and the fine prints missing in the script I mentioned earlier is direct foreign investment policy where Ghana continues to import every finished product and services from the West which is having tremendous burden on the Ghanaian cedi. If we take the most economic activities between western nations e.g. Germany will not allow the US to export finished national product like Chrysler, ford, and diesel trucks to Germany and US will not allow finished German cars like BMW etc into the US. The common practice of foreign direct investment is that, the US established a plant in Germany and produce American cars for the German market likewise Germany will establish a plant in the America to produce BMW for the US market. This is what my grandmother of blessed memory will call fair business practices and relationship because of its equal job creation potential for both countries.

These examples are just the tips of the iceberg upon which the western economies strive in job creation for its citizens of different educational background, status and persuasions.

On a more crucial and urgent note, I cannot advocate for scrapping the current foreign affairs policy mixes, because so much resources have already gone in to establishing an environment and policy that are peculiar, comfortable, and acceptable by the current finance and foreign ministries arrangements. Arrangements that adhere strictly to Western tolerable norm prescribed for developing nations. Keeping all these implications in mind, I think Ghana as a matter of urgency must adopt a new light weight but savvy and dynamic patriotic taskforce under the finance and Foreign Affairs ministries.

This taskforce will have the mandate to openly discuss the need to invest heavily in our citizens abroad. The initial focus of the taskforce is to establish a brokerage firm or engage the services of one that is passionate to Ghana's need. Second to organize a fundraising student and citizen movement in Ghana and fundraising and investment group comprising Ghanaian ethnic associations abroad that is empowered to raise funds, and invest it in Ghanaian businesses abroad. The return and voluntary contribution will fund Ghana's budgetary shortfalls and district and constituencies industrial projects.

This initiative if properly study and implemented without bureaucratic bottle necks will go a long way to minimize the gargantuan appetite for foreign western loans for every tom dick and harry projects in Ghana.

To test the waters and see how simple or cumbersome it will be to raise monies to fund our projects in Ghana without borrowing. The taskforce with the help of the media can request Ghc 24,000,000 voluntary contribution from Ghanaian to support one realistic viable industrial project and see how responsive and easy that will be. The population of Ghana is approximately 24million strong and if government can be humble enough and supplement the effort of the taskforce and media, a voluntary contribution of one cedi per person can easily close the deal twice in a year from Ghanaians alone raising cool Ghc 48,000,000. This exercise must be package well and exciting to make sense to students and citizens at large to contribute. Just like the US and Europe uses internally generated revenues to sponsor and invest in projects and businesses, Ghana can smartly adopt different ways to cater for herself and protect the rest of our raw materials for future production, processing, and marketing.

On the foreign front the whole idea is to bring home the best direct foreign investment practices of the West and China. Where ordinary Ghanaian citizens abroad will help a great deal if given the mandate through their existing well organized ethnic groups and business affiliations.

For example, because government does not have the gut to influence or persuade the West to establish industrial plants in Ghana to process cocoa into different finished product for exports, (European and American chocolate flavors etc), the taskforce under Ministry of foreign Affairs and Finance should empower Ghanaians to establish a joint partnership cocoa processing industry over there in Europe and America. This industry will process our raw cocoa into small scale competitive finished products like the Ghanaian chocolate bar the 'Golden Tree' on the continent of Europe and America.

Furthermore, the Ghanaians abroad will be enthused and assist very well in this effort of building small industries to process numerous Ghanaian raw materials in the West (cocoa, pineapple, mango, timber, gold etc). Even rearing of goats, snails and grass cutter farming in the US and Europe will equally be welcome with enormous employment opportunities in our own Ghanaian businesses with economic benefits not only to Ghanaians abroad, but the West and also lower Ghana's dependency on foreign loans to supplement our domestic budgets.

The idea is to let the West understand that Ghana only want to fulfill their constitutional and United Nations obligations for her citizens abroad. This is to promote and protect the interest of Ghana and enhance Ghana's security, prosperity, favorable conditions for trade and direct foreign investment.

Ghana can be like the West or China only if opportunity can be given to some of us to equally contribute our effort in a small way to start looking at some realistic approach of raising foreign currencies from the West without actually borrowing. In my previous articles I mentioned other areas like investment in one hundred Medallions for Ghanaian yellow taxis drivers in New York City alone will cost $15,000,000 payable in three years. Meaning after paying the initial cost Ghana still have $15,000,000 minus taxes coming to her every three years. Secondly, the nursing homes ownerships in the West is also a lucrative investment opportunities for Ghana and Ghanaians because Ghanaian women also form a sizable workforce. Without mentioning other professionals whose potentials and financial undertakings are much larger, I am equal to the task of providing the way to meet potential Ghanaian ethnic organizations like Ewe Association of North America, Asanteman, Fanteman, Ga Association, Akwapem, Northern, West and East associations and other untapped professional bodies that will assist tremendously.

Finally, Ghana must promote religiously our menus, like maize, millet porridge, tom-brown, and cocoa for breakfast also kelewele, Ga/fante Kenkey, shitto and fry/bake fish etc here in Ghana and international front. Government functions like banquet should showcase rigorously Ghanaian appetizers like kelewele and fried fish with shitto; wattse, jollof, banku with okro, light soup, fish stew, and entire roasted well seasoned grass cutter etc. We must influence ourselves and the world with our Ghanaian dishes. For instance, Mexico tacos, burritos, Mexican pizzas and Chinese fried rice, McDonalds, KFC are all local dishes of certain ethnic groups in the world but these cuisines are now patronized internationally. LET US TAKE THE UNIQUE STEP NOW.

Thank you once again for given me the audience.
Yao Fiagbeto
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