I followed an article that challenged my own perception about the fact that Africa and for that matter Ghana is rising. Ali Mufuruki, a Tanzania billionaire and business man delivered this talk in London recently and declared, Africa is not rising! For someone like me who is a natural optimist about Africa, it came as trasversty. His facts caused me to reflect on what we hold on to in this optimism. He mentioned factors like deteriorating electricity, trade, aid, education, management of economy, technology, share of global trade and environment. I may as well dwell on just two of his eye-popping facts and share my own thoughts.
On aid, it could be noted that, Japan, Singapore, Malaysia and the likes weaned themselves off aid in 20 years while Africa (including Nigeria) after 60 years have graduated to another level and actually negotiating on ‘better’ terms to receive aid. The president of Ghana was recently in Germany to solicit for help in solving the current energy crises in Ghana. To this end a Rising Ghana, is that Ghana that can stand on its feet after 58 years of independence and channel all wastage in corruption to get adequate power for the country. It is estimated that Ghana lost something near $200,000,000 to corruption in 2013. Some of the aid received sometimes don’t even reach $1,000,000. Aid and grants are actually factored into our budgets. Indeed where is the rising in this about Africa?
On electricity, these were his words “France has a population of 65 million people, yet it generates four times more electricity than all the 47 sub-Saharan African countries generate for their 805 million people. What that means is that, a French person consumes 50 times more electricity than an African today. So what do you say if a French man told you, your continent is rising?” Does that sound familiar to the inhabitants of the nation Ghana? How that West is singing our praise of a rising economy and yet even the comparatively muniscle domestic power demands cannot be met. Those of us who have been around in the 80s through to the 90s and 2000s can testify that this is the worst we have seen in power shedding, with providers and distributors passing the buck while a sitting government manages with assurances and promises that are never met. Is Ghana really rising?
Ghana import figures rose from USD1.1 billion in 2005 to USD 3.1 billion in 2014. Ghana imports mostly industrial supplies, capital and consumer goods and foodstuffs. If there is a rise in imports and it is about finished agricultural products, is Ghana really rising?
When we see the influx of foreigners troop in to do business, we may pride ourselves in having created a conducive business environment. It is truly great if the nation is benefitting substantially. We may not currently have the full capacity to engage in high resource ventures like drilling oil and so we will need external help. However if the substantial gains go out of the country then Ghana is not indeed rising because modern colonialism is at its peak.
My biggest take however is the leadership of Africa. It soon elopes the leaders that their position is not a dynasty and they need to run it like a business. Time flies so fast and they dont realise they have been in power for two decades. The next thing is to change the constitution to extend their stay of a rule that is gone stinkingly stale with nothing new to offer. They would only have perfected in avenues to own the country and half its resources. Foreign investors come into the nation on the terms of leaders and their cronies. The current power crises in Ghana is a leadership shortsightedness on the part of three governments (including military rule) together spanning over 3 decades. The current power crises that has assumed overwhelming proportions saw one government who was in power for 19 years and who resorted to load shedding (dumsor), another for 8 years continued with load shedding as the best way to manage the insufficient power in the country. Another government is on for 6 six years and can only intensify the load shedding to catastrophic and business ripping levels. If this one condition has existed for nearly three decades and only does seem to only get worse, can we say Ghana is rising?
I may want to believe so for my natural and intense optimism towards the rising and the good of Africa, but i just may need someone who has been in business for over 5 years to confirm to me. Is Ghana really rising?
By: Yaw Korankye Antwi