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30.09.2019 Politics

Fifi’s Journey: How Well Do You Know Hon Fifi Fiavi Franklin Kwetey?

Hon Fifi Fiavi F. Kwetey
LISTEN SEP 30, 2019
Hon Fifi Fiavi F. Kwetey

Henceforth, The Catalyst will be publishing profiles of some of the notable personalities in the National Democratic Congress (NDC) as proof of the quality of the MEN the party has. We are tired of listening to the NPP’s over flogged claims of having the men and yet anytime they are in government, their performance is nothing to write home about.

Today, our profile series bring to readers’ attention all they need to know about Hon Fifi Fiavi F. Kwetey.

Fifi Fiavi Kwetey is currently a Member of Ghana's Parliament. He represents The Ketu South constituency. He was until January 6, 2017, Ghana's Minister for Transport when the Mahama-led NDC handed over power to the Akufo-Addo-led New Patriotic Party (NPP).

Hon Fifi Kwetey had before then served in different positions in government, beginning as Deputy Finance Minister in the then Atta Mills-led NDC government, he went on to become a Minister at the Presidency and Minister for Food and Agriculture, under the last NDC government.

The former minister has an Economics background and had worked for a number of years in the investment banking industry before moving into politics.

His overriding passion has always been the optimisation of the human potential and the achievement of Societal Transformation.

Passion, principles, personal responsibility and a positive mental attitude, Fifi as he is popularly called, believes are critical prerequisites which unleash individual creativity and potential and enable each of us to make our contribution towards the attainment of a healthy family, a thriving community, a great country and a happy human society.

Fifi Kwetey, describes himself as an eternal student of the school of Life. Some of the lessons and experiences he has acquired in his 52 years in this Great school can be found in a pocket book he authored, titled "Golden Keys". A book he published in June 2017.

A family man, Fifi and his partner Naomi are blessed with four children.

Birth And Educational Journey.
He was born On June 2, 1967 in Hohoe in the Volta region. His father Joseph Kofi Kwetey was a former branch manager of Barclays bank in Hohoe. His mother Benonia Essie Kwetey was at the time a senior nurse at the Hohoe Hospital.

At the age of 4, following his mother's opening of a private midwifery in Aflao, Fifi Kwetey whose father and mother come from Nogokpo and Denu respectively, moved to Aflao.

He began schooling in next door Lome, which is a walking distance for most children of Aflao.

His primary school was Ecole Christ Roi in Kodzoviakorpe, just across the border.

From there he did 4 years of secondary education at the then prestigeous College Protestant in Lome where he obtained Brevet D etudes du Premier Cycle.

In 1984, he enrolled for the first time in an English speaking school- that is, Bishop Herman College in Kpando. By 1987 he obtained the O level. In that year, young Fifi was adjudged by the West Africa Examinations Council as Ghana's best student and one of the three best students in west Africa.

He moved from there to Achimota School for his A Levels. University was next, where he graduated in 1993 having studied Economics and Psychology.

In his final year at Legon, he became the chairman of the NDC on legon campus- this was ahead of the Nov-Dec 1992 elections.

In 1994, he obtained the Paris based Chamber of Commerce and Industry's Higher Diploma for Business in French.

Work Journey And Milestones
After his A Level, Hon Fifi Kwetey did his national service program where he taught English at Tokor JHS, in Aflao. This was from October 1989 to June 1990.

The next working opportunity was when he did his second national service with the office of Parliament from October 1993 to July 1994.

Hon Fifi Kwetey would in July 1995 join the Investment Banking firm, Strategic African Securities Ltd in July 1995. He worked there as a Financial Analyst and a stockbroker. During this period, he played a pivotal role in establishing the company's maiden annual publication of T

The Stock Market's Annual Economic and Financial Review and Outlook. This was the go to analytical work at the time, which provided the most comprehensive financial and economic analysis.

He moved to join CDH Financial Holdings Ltd in April 1998 and worked there till February 2002 as a Funds Manager, Investment Analyst and a Stockbroker. At the same time, he also became a tutor of financial Courses at the Ghana Stock Exchange.

As a result of his increasing political activism and communications in the media before and after the year 2000 elections, Fifi Kwetey felt compelled to leave his work in the financial sectort and dedicate all his efforts towards helping the NDC recapture power. He left CDH in 2002 to join the Office of President Rawlings and worked there as a media aide and a key spokesperson for the former President.

In December 2005, Fifi Kwetey contested and was elected to become the chief communicator for the NDC. As the party's Propaganda Secretary, he will go on to leave an immortal legacy, fondly remembered by many as Setting The Records Straight.

While holding that position, he was also simultaneously the Managing editor of The Crystal Clear Lens Newspaper and the CEO of Crystal Ra Microfinance Company.

Leading to the victory of President Mills in December 2008, Fifi played a critical role as the main spokesman for the party but also the head of the party's results collation outfit- a role which became so critical when NPP tried some last minute shenanigans aimed at stealing the verdict in the EC Strongroom in vain.

In February 2009, he was appointed by the late President John Evans Atta Mills as deputy Finance Minister, a position he held up to January 6, 2013.

Main Things Accomplished at the Finance Ministry Hon Fifi Kwetey became the driving force behind the first major restructuring of the departments of the Ministry of Finance since independence. Before his appointment into the ministry, there used to be two major divisions at the ministry. These were the Budget Division and the Economic Planning Division.

He, with the blessing of the then Minister of Finance, Dr Dufuor, worked hard to bring a structural change in the ministry with the view to bringing greater strategic thinking which will boost the ministry’s pivotal position as the key driver of the Economy.

Through his instrumentality, a whole new branch called Economic Strategy branch was birthed. The former budget division under which domestic and external resources fell, also came under a new branch called the Finance Branch.

The New Economic Strategy Branch had the following new divisions: Economic Research and Forecasting Division (ERFD), Real Sector Division (RSD), Public Investment Division (PID) in addition to the existing Financial Services Division (FSD).

The new Finance Branch had underneath it, the old divisions, including Budget Division, External Resource Mobilisation : Bilateral (ERM-B), External Resource Mobilisation : Multilateral (ERM-M), and Debt Management Division (DMD). Supporting these two branches were the following outfits- legal, audit and general admin.

During his time at the Finance Ministry, Ghana chalked some of the most monumental macro-economic achievements. For the first time ever, the country enjoyed a single digit inflation for 33 continuous months- a feat which remains unmatched to date.

It was also during his time as deputy finance minister that Ghana recorded an economic growth of 14.4%, the highest economic growth in the country’s history. This record growth was anchored on a solid 8% growth in the non-oil sector in that same year of 2011.

Budget Deficit was also brought down substantially from about 15%, where it stood at the close of 2008, (as captured in the 2009 and 10 budget statements).

It was also during the same period that the highest growth in Ghana’s cocoa production 1 million metric tons was achieved by the country.

Another significant achievement was the chalking of a B+ ratings for Ghana, the highest rating to date, and the building of the needed resilience that was needed to help Ghana withstand the 3 major shocks- power insufficiency, external economic shock and high public sector wages- that subsequently affected the country between 2013 to 2015.

Between February 2013 and June 2014, Hon Fifi Kwetey was appointed as minister at the Presidency in Charge of Financial and allied Institutions. This stint aided him to observe the workings of the presidency at close range. A time of great learning, working at the Flagstaff House, where he was often drafted into meetings of both President Mahama and particularly then Vice President Paa Kwesi Amissah Arthur, who was the Head of the Economic Management Team. He became a key member of the economic management team from this period.

In July 2014, he became the substantive Minister for Food and Agriculture, where he spent some 18 months.

Main Things Accomplished in the Agric Ministry

As a result of the challenges that affected the economy in 2013 and continued into 2014, the fertilizer subsidy program was suspended in 2014 before his appointment as Agric Minister. He used his background experience as former deputy finance minister to make a compelling case with the Ministry of Finance on the far reaching negative economic consequences of the suspension of the Fertilizer Subsidy Program. This saw the restoration of the program during the year 2015 to stem the negative consequences that the earlier suspension of the program had had on the sector.

The Year 2014 also saw a massive pressure on the cedi, as a result of global pressure that affected so many emerging economies like Argentina, South Africa, Turkey and many others. In response to that President Mahama launched an aggressive program to push for significant production of local rice, poultry and sugar to help reduce the massive foreign exchange that the country was spending on importation of these commodities.

The Ministry of Agriculture, under his leadership, rose to the challenge and played a key role, which culminated in the reduction of importation of both rice and poultry. Rice import during the period reduced significantly. Total spent on rice import at the time was a relatively low $400+million compared to the over $1.1b the country is spending currently.

Fifi also worked closely with the Ministry of Trade towards the inception of a sugar refinery which was to be complemented by local production to feed the refinery.

An additional thrust was the collaboration that began under him with the Governor of the Central Bank. He initiated meetings with the governor and convinced the central bank that there was a synergistic role that the Bank of Ghana could play in concert with the Ministry of Agriculture, since a lot of the historical pressure on the local currency came from the amount of forex the country spent on imports of commodities that Ghana could easily produce. These conversations led to the inception of what became known as Ghana Incentive Based Risk Sharing Agricultural Lending (GIRSAL). The setting up of this important program aimed at getting the Central Bank to use its leverage to change the financial lending to the agricultural sector was in full motion before Hon Fifi Kwetey was taken to his next ministerial position.

As minister of Food and Agriculture, Hon Fifi Kwetey’s major focus was to bring a paradigm shift that will expand the focus of the Agric Ministry from just being a food production outfit into a ministry focused on the entire value chain with special emphasis on the vital importance of reliable markets and incentivizing prices, without which, production of food would continue to be unreliable and inconsistent.

He therefore worked hard towards helping to inculcate in the staff of the ministry a new understanding that the sector needed to become more Agribusiness oriented rather than just food production oriented- agric to him, was not just about food production- it was to be seen as a game changing all round business.

One of his biggest legacies in the sector was the Israeli collaboration he began, which for the first time saw the setting up of an Israeli Modern Greenhouse Agriculture Training Institute at Dawhenya. Agritop, an Israeli company was contracted to begin the project.

The plan was not just to provide training for Ghanaian youths in the advanced practices of greenhouse agriculture in Israel but also to set them up after the training with the necessary tool kits. This was a major ground breaking initiative aimed at bringing the sexy agriculture many of today's youths crave and an emphasis on all round agribusiness.

Minister of Transport- Feb 2016 to Jan 6, 2017

As minister of transport, Hon Fifi Kwetey recorded many major accomplishments.

He oversaw the sod cutting and the beginning of the nation's infrastructural pride, the Terminal 3 project at the Kotoka International Airport.

He also initiated discussions with Uber International which eventually led to the signing of the MOU which paved the way for the beginning of Uber in Accra- Uber which has become not just an income saver for many but also a major job opportunity and income earner for many youths today.

He also met Ghana Shipyard Company virtually on its knees and led initiatives that ensured that GPHA took over this critical outfit- a move that brought so much celebration to the workers of the shipyard who to date confess that move was a massive turn around for their beloved outfit.

Again, Hon Fifi Kwetey oversaw the groundbreaking sod cutting for the nation's biggest port expansion project, a $1.5b initiative which when completed was to make the Tema Port one of the biggest ports in the whole of Sub-Saharan Africa with far reaching consequences for the nation's economy.

He also oversaw the completion and commissioning of the Sekondi-Takoradi- Kojokrom railway line.

Parliamentary Work
The Ketu South Member of Parliament has over the last 7 years in parliament played key roles in the Following committees of parliament: Finance, Energy and Trade, Industry and Tourism committees.

He served as Ranking Member for the Trade and Industry Committee for about 2 and half years.

Accomplishments in Ketu South
As MP for Ketu South, he successfully used his leverage to lobby for many key projects for his constituency. These include a 40m dollar Sea defense project, a 10m cedi Irrigation dam project to boost all year agriculture, an 8 million cedi Community Day Secondary School, major water projects in Klikor and Laklevikorpe, a Metro Mass terminal project, asphalting of key roads, the construction of several 6 classroom blocks and KGs, clinics, maternity homes, CHPS compound facilities, a police station, many toilet facilities, many scholarships for students among many other accomplishments.

Hon Kwetey recently was given an international appointment as a member of the Swiss based International Financial Organisation, Financial Stability Bank, an organisation that works closely with the IMF and The Swiss Bank.

Source: The Catalyst Newspaper

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