The Asantehene, Otumfuo Osei Tutu II was spot on in his call for Ghanaian industries to manufacture products to fill the several fast springing mega malls across the country.
It was a brilliant submission His Majesty made in his speech at the debut edition of the World Meets In Ghana Investors’ Forum and Executive Dinner Ball.
What the Asantehene is calling for, if done, would solve multiple problems for the country.
Apart from the several jobs both direct and indirect that would be created along the value chain, Ghana would start exporting some of the products to at least countries in the sub region.
It is depressing to enter a well patronized mall in Accra or other parts of the country only to realize that a good chunk of the very basic things on sale are all imported. Some even from countries Ghana is better off than in terms of political and economic stability.
How on earth can it be explained to make common sense that Ghana, a Lower-Middle Income Country, sees nothing wrong with importing very basic essential commodities that get patronized because they serve the everyday needs of the average Ghanaian and have a ready market waiting?
Is it not shameful that a majority of basic things like carbonated drinks, biscuits, sweetened drinks, tissue paper and the likes in the big malls are all imported products?
A leading cocoa producing country still importing chocolate drinks from countries that do not grow cocoa. How on earth can it be explained to make economic sense that the cocoa producing country exports the cocoa to other countries and the imports finished cocoa products?
Yet we continue to complain of an ever growing unemployment and under employment situation.
Otumfuo mentioned what may be a practical challenge serving as an obstacle to the establishment and growth of such much needed production factories.
“We have to ask why, is spite of the vast opportunities, the industry landscape in Ghana is so barren. It must be obvious that you cannot stimulate industrial growth within a policy framework which makes medium-to-long term lending impossibility. It is the sad reality however that and worse of all, the interest rate regime that has prevailed in this country for the past decade or so can only be described as the uptime weapon of industrial destruction” were the exact words Otumfuo used and the King was spot on.
It is as though there is no protectionist policy for indigenous companies. It is as though raising capital for startups is similar to signing a death warrant.
It is our hope that the voice of the King would enter into the ears of those who matter and are in charge of making policy and policy directives.
We cannot continue to do the same things and expect a different result.
Until we move into an industrialized economy where we produce what we consume and even export some for foreign exchange, we would only continue this rat race on a wild goose chase.
In the abundance of water the ‘fool’ thirsts indeed.