10.01.2019 Feature Article

When Will We Get There?

When Will We Get There?
10.01.2019 LISTEN

Over the years, my articles have being limited to specifically Ghana and its economic stagnation; for some reasons, I’ve had strong convictions that the Ghanaian economy will revamp within the shortest possible time considering the current economic policies implemented by the current administration that is meant to promote a vigorous and build a robust economy.

Among the policies previously implemented include, Nabco, which has helped to reduce the rate of unemployment and will help create more employment in the future if only stringent measures are introduced meant at sustaining the policy and also bringing on board all sectors to benefit from Nabco. Most importantly, according to the CEO of Kantanka Automobile (Ghana’s only local car manufacturing company), the government of Ghana has given the firm a ten (10) years tax holiday to enhance its production by reducing production cost and additionally, a duty free deal at the port whenever it imports raw materials meant for producing these vehicles. These are social interventions that have a long term impact on the economic growth and development of Ghana.

On the other hand, this article is not limited to Ghana but Africa as a continent. When you travel outside the country, all black men are referred to be coming from Africa and not a specific country within the continent and worse of it is that, a particular negative stereotype is attached to the skin colour basically because of what they’ve read in the news or seen on CNN, BBC and the rest. Most often than not, whenever these stations make a film or documentary about Africa, it’s for a negative reason or the other.

The positives are hardly filmed to the world and this is the reason for the negative stereotype and racism meted out to and faced by blacks around the world. In a modernised 21st century world where the world is meant to embrace different cultures from all kinds of people regardless of race being it black, white or yellow, one would say, it is uncultured and uncivilised on the part of anyone to be racist, but funny enough, it does happen just because we have given them reasons to be racist. Racism isn’t necessary, we must appreciate what everyone can bring to the table at the end.

The aim of my article isn’t to address racism either but to highlight the problems in Africa and what our leaders can do to bring Africa in the good books of the world. There are countless number of Africans in the outside world making Africa proud in terms of inventions/ingenuity and there are several others embarrassing Africa in the outside world for fraudulent activities.

Africa can be the best when we first tackle corruption and favouritism in our governmental institution and then take a more vibrant initiative to develop our infrastructure and industries. To begin with, in most of the developed world including Malaysia (though a small country but worth siting), the systems do work effectively including good roads, railways to supplement the existing roads hence reducing the daily traffic and even distance to get to work, enough state buses which are very cheap and affordable to all, limited traffic, convenience, working street cameras (CCTV) at every corner of the city, shops, etc, better and sufficient health care facilities filled with hospitals beds, pharmaceuticals etc.

These facilities contribute to the living standard of an individual and further enhances the energy of the individual at work to contribute immensely to productivity and growth since good health of an individual is a contributory aspect of the growth equation. Additionally, in such developed world, systems relating to transactions done using electronic and e-payments work perfectly safeguarding finances against theft and so on. Contrary, in most parts of Africa, the roads are not enough and the existing ones seems to be in a deplorable state. There are countless roads which are not even motorable making it difficult to transport essential food from the rural farm areas to the market and urban cities.

Aside the roads, the state transports are not enough to reach all cities. I must however recommend Cote D’Ivoire’s initiative of acquiring new Iveco buses for the country. In the early months of 2018, Cote D’Ivoire entered into a bus acquisition agreement with Iveco Company which earned the city of Abidjan a total of about 400 brand new crossway buses to assist the existing ones. Ghana is also doing well when it comes to state buses as it makes it a point to acquire new buses at least every two years to supplement existing ones.

Again, the problem faced in Africa is railways as its either in limited supply or in a deplorable state. Ghana for example has a lot of railroads which are non-functioning after the exit of the Europeans. This can be revamped to promote the transport system and also ease the current traffic situation in the city of Accra and a reduced transports costs. Nigeria must be recommend for taking a bold initiative to improve upon its railroads.

According to a BBC report in 2018, Nigeria has embarked on an agenda to improving its existing railroads and also building new ones to ease the congestion on the roads. This is remarkably a good news. Additionally, in most African countries, Health care and health facilities seems to be sufficient in especially the capital cities with the rest of the regions and towns lacking health facilities or either there exist clinics which are not operating or lacks enough hospital beds in a 21st century economy.

No nation can make claim to self-reliance and sufficiency but Africa could have being self-sufficient looking at all the natural resources in huge quantity which are in our disposal. The problem in Africa is mismanagement, corruption and greed on the part of the leaders. According to an article by Max De Haldevang, the president of Cameroun (Paul Biya) who has being president for 35years now has spent about 30 of those years outside Cameroun and this autocratic leader doesn’t seem to be giving out power to someone else soon. According to a World Bank report, the average Cameroonian earns about US$1,400 annually whilst in 2017 alone, the total of Paul Biya’s travel expenses including chartered jets and hotel cost estimated US$182 million Dollars.

Can this promote any development if our leaders act this way? Can we say Cameroun is poor? The answer is definitely No. Africa invisibly is the richest continent but unfortunately has the greediest and power drunk leaders in the history of man. With this mind-set of create, loot and share, we don’t expect to attract respect and applause from the rest of the world until we change our mentality and administrative thinking as Africans.

Additionally, rumours circulated concerning China taking over the Mombasa airport in Kenya because of Kenya’s inability to repay debt owed to China, Gush, is this how far we’ve come? When will Africa as a continent actually get there? Details about corrupt practices of African leaders are just mind-blowing, however, that’s not the purpose of my paper.

I had a chat with some brothers from Rwanda who were sharing their developmental stories with me. They said, “our president doesn’t like to borrow from the rest of the world and this has gained him the recognition and respect from the outside world. To compensate for infrastructure establishment and development, the president and his administration levy huge taxes on the citizenry in order to have enough funds to undertake developmental projects”. Today, Rwanda is counted among the fastest growing economies in terms of infrastructural development. Can’t other leaders emulate same? Is borrowing the only means to finance developmental projects?

The rest of the African countries whose leaders keep increasing taxes each year and yet keeps borrowing from the rest of the world but undertake no developmental project, one would ask, what those increased taxes and borrowed funds are used for?

Currently, most African countries lacks availability of jobs for graduates. The situation is worse in Nigeria, Cameroun and most parts of Africa. What can our leaders do? It will be prudent to admit and graduate students based on availability of jobs and also African leaders must do their very best to make infrastructure development their main focus for being president and the need to promote industrial growth and empower local industries like what Ghana has done to its automobile company. This will create the avenue for employment.

African leaders can also make it a point to be self-reliant on matters which do not require assistance from the outside world including huge loans to embark on infrastructure development.

I believe by levying and accumulating funds together, by avoiding unnecessary expenditure and prioritising what is necessary, we can finance if not all, some projects to be able to maintain a good face. Africa is not poor, Africa is rich but it’s just unfortunate it is managed by greedy leaders who end up painting a bad picture of Africa to the rest of the world. And if we should continue like this as a continent, when are we going to get there?

Writer: Emmanuel De-Graft Quarshie