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Thursday, March 8, 2012

Ghana at 55, why haven't we developed or when shall we develop?

Ghana is 55 years old and as usual there are celebrations on the streets: school kids, workers, and the security forces are marching and singing. It is a great joy to be involved in such occasions but there is one very critical question that everyone is celebrating: what are we celebrating? If the answer is independence from the tyranny of the British who dominated Ghana's political, economic, social and cultural scene for decades and yet failed to industrialise the country then it is fair enough to say that the celebrations are worth it but if the it is about our economic development and social progress then we must ask ourselves have we really done much. 

Some will say yes we have others will say no. But I think if we compare ourselves with our neighbours (Togo, Benin, Nigeria, Senegal, Namibia, Gabon, Sudan) then it will be wrong to say that Ghana has not achieved anything however if we compare ourselves with countries in Asia that achieved independence within the same period as Ghana then it will be very difficult to say that Ghana has developed. South Korea, Malaysia, Singapore are our contemporaries but if we look at their level of development, their standard of living and their GDP, the things they produce and export, it becomes obvious that Ghana is no where near them. We simply have not developed; we have been sleeping despite the fact that we have natural resources more than even Korea

Of course natural resources alone do not bring development. And that is our major problem. We have a lot of natural resources including strategic ones such as oil, gold, diamond, timber, bauxite and yet we seem to be wallowing in poverty. The problem is that Ghana has not build up the stock of other capital that could enable her good use of its natural resources: education, infrastructure, savings and technology.

There is appallingly poor leadership in the country. The nationalist instincts that pushed Nkrumah to build Akosombo Dam, Tema Harbour, Kwame Nkrumah University, Cape Coast University, and all the strategic national assets seem to have been lost. The leadership who came after Nkrumah failed to think ahead. They failed to build on the foundation laid down by him. They ignored education particularly technology, science, engineering, mathematics the very areas driving development in Malaysia, Korea and Singapore.  The frequency with which the politicians in the country change policies on education (3 years NDC, 4 years NPP) has been a major problem.

We did not encourage and promote local entrepreneurs and destroyed factories that could be better managed to bring in revenue to develop the country.

We failed to save money during good times which could be used to develop and build infrastructure during bad times. The ministers and directors who work in ministries and departments have become selfish: no more interested in the well being of the country.

And most importantly the country and its leaders failed to work closely with the West to benefit from technology, financial assets and human capacity building. The few occasions where we did work with them we were not smart enough to seek the interest of Ghana and so did not benefit from our relationship with them.

Ghana must go back to the drawing board and look at how we have failed and develop a proper and comprehensive response to it.

L.A. Adusei

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