Business News of Wednesday, 11 June 2014
President of mPedigree Bright Simmons has advocated a ground-breaking shift of economic emphasis from cocoa to microchips - technology.
"The extreme focus on cocoa is one of the prime examples of the lack of innovative thinking and that if I had my own way, tomorrow will shut down Cocoa Board", he told a gathering at Joy FM's Technology and Innovation Summit dubbed JOTIS 2014.
The objective of JOTIS is to put young successful achievers at the centre of big national problems, to which they are to suggest practical solutions.
Touching on the need to divert national attention to I.T, Simons argued, just as cocoa began as an experiment and blossomed into a major export product, it is time for Ghana to experiment with technology as the middle-income country's transformative agenda.
"We have too many sacred cows in Ghana and cocoa is one of them", Simmons pointed out.
Cocoa sector, which offers livelihoods for over 700,000 farmers in the southern tropical belt of the country, is one of Ghana’s main exports. Every government since colonial administrations has focused as an important source of government revenue.
But Ghana has an ageing cocoa farming population, Bright Simons argued, adding the country’s non-traditional exports gave 40% more in terms of revenue than cocoa.
World market price of cocoa, which contributes about 3.4 per cent to the country’s Gross Domestic (GDP) has been falling, it dropped from US$3,747 in March 2012 to a little above US$2,660.
"We have forced our brains into a box that says cocoa is important", he charged.
Cocoa is not the only area that he exposed as lacking innovation. He berated Precious Minerals Market Company (PMMC) for its simple-minded understanding of adding value to gold by making jewelry.
"It has not occurred to them that jewelry is a fashion product....it is something that you have to partner the Kofi Ansah's of this world to create brands... if you are at PMMC and you really want to add value to gold then get brand experts and other designers to push that agenda.”
He said Ghana needs leaders whose understanding of technology is beyond using social media.
Silicon leaders, he said have a mentality of questioning every traditional knowledge and looking out for innovative ways of achieving economic transformation.
“What we are arguing for is not leaders who can do facebook and twitter...What is missing in Ghana today is the absolute, the pathetic and the regrettable lack of silicon leadership"