The 2017 budget envisions to build Ghana as a “Nation of Entrepreneurs” within the shortest possible time. The idea is one of the many novelties the government intends to roll out. The notion is to apply new knowledge to the production of goods and services to meet the country’s social, cultural and economic needs.
To facilitate the agenda, the Government will develop a National Entrepreneurship and Innovation Plan (NEIP). The NEIP will expectedly position Ghana as a hub for generating innovation, an enabler for starting and growing new business and finally, a place where new ideas are patent. The NEIP as outlined will be “a flagship initiative which will be the primary vehicle for providing integrated support for early stage (start-ups and small) businesses, focusing on the provision of business development services, business incubators, and funding for youth-owned businesses” (Government of Ghana, 2017). The Government’s commitment to making Ghana the best place in Africa to start and grow a business is commendable. The expected synergistic effect on jobs, economic growth and development are enormous.
SEE THIS: Eight Ghanaian entrepreneurs share their business advice
The NEIP is also apparent on the focus and target group…”..enable qualified new businesses to emerge and give them the space to grow, position them to attract financing, and provide business development support services. The programme will assist these businesses to secure markets during the critical formative years, and tap into a vast supply chain and network during their growth years” (Government of Ghana, 2017).
For the objectives of the NEIP to be achieved, however, the creation of the enabling environment is essential and critical. Below I discuss the key priority areas of Ghana’s governance system that must respond adequately to making NEIP achieve its intended purpose.
Regulation: Critical to attaining the objective of making Ghana a nation of entrepreneurs would require of State Regulatory Bodies to drive innovation processes and assisting new businesses to horn possible entrepreneurial prowess. The State Regulators must be enablers to aid fostering of idea creation, provide the platform for innovators to nurture and master the ability to communicate the idea and ultimately commercialising the idea. They are not to be dream killers.
SEE THIS: How Ghana’s Michael Agyekum Addo built his business with almost no startup capital
Government driving innovation: the need for government chatting the path of change and encouraging industries through tax breaks, special rights and subsidies does have a spiral effect on churning out Innovators, Entrepreneurs and Intrapreneurs. The government has a much bigger role to play in making Ghana the nation of Entrepreneurs.
Intellectual Property (IP): equally critical is for the country to define the intellectual rights of people over their ideas. An incentive for driving innovation and entrepreneurship is the satisfaction that the rewards of one’s abilities and capabilities very much accrue to him or her. To ensure unfettered and unimpeded benefits for innovation requires the need to establish systems which enhance an active exploitation, trading and commercialisation of IP. There is also the need to ensure IP system keeps pace with the changing economy whiles removing the disincentives for university spin-outs of ideas.
Access to finance: growth, development and sustenance through innovation can materialise when financing is easy to access by potential innovators. Change does not occur out of the blue but through deliberate planning. There will be the need for Government to work alongside the private sector to create the deepest pool of innovation finance to support Research and Development (R&D) and the universities in generating meaningfully unique ideas.
Data: equally relevant will be making national data bank available to innovators and academia. Such information would be critical for new product development and marketing. Open access data opportunities would be crucial for NIEP to succeed.
Leveraging the local content Act: The local content Act is essential to growing and sustaining local businesses. The Act enables locals to get contracts from international organisations operating in the country and by so doing learn best practices. The NEIP must leverage on the opportunities in the Act and maximise them for the collective benefit of Ghanaian entrepreneurs. The end goal is to build such businesses to the level such that they will over time be able to take up substantial portions of Ghanaian business opportunities.
Mobilising existing youth related programmes: there are a couple of fragmented plans going on in Ghana. Most of the business models currently been implemented lack critical appraisal. Their impact on generating jobs, growth and development are yet to get ascertained. To give life to most of the youth related programmes would require of them leveraging NEIP for best ideas for the creation of employment and growth.
These are some of the critical issues the government must consider as it seeks to draft the NIEP. The NIEP must be the game changer and must indeed be the new plan for building a Nation of Entrepreneurs.
Author: Kwadwo Kyeremeh