Feature Article of Saturday, 12 March 2011
Columnist: Anim-Mensah, Alexander
Knowledge abounds in Ghana and Africa as a whole; however the management, the effective use, protection and the transfer are among what are lacking for economic reasons. It is known that strong interactions exist between the above factors and the advancement of a country.
In the developed countries, immense emphasis is placed on knowledge, its proper documentation, protection and the transfer since they form part of the foundation on which the country grows. The fruits; innovation and technological change are without doubt the main drivers of economic growth at organizational, sector and economy-wide levels. Studies show that innovation is the key to competitiveness of businesses and nations. Moreover, a well developed innovation system and culture not only underpins economic growth but the social well-being of the business and a nation.
Ghana as well as Africa as a whole is at a “technological standstill” and struggling because of the little value placed on innovation, its proper documentation, its protection, easy accessibility and cumbersomeness in securing ideas. However, some of the very attractive documented innovations receive less attention and are often shelved because of the fear of failure if pursued. In addition, fewer avenues exist to showcase some of the documented information to attract both local and foreign investors.
Africa is underdeveloped because we are continually “reinventing wheels” from lack of proper information documentation, protection, easy accessibility and others. We rather take delight in paying for foreign innovated ideas, packaged and sold to us at exorbitant cost. Some of these ideas repackaged to us may have originated from our own lands, but are let go without any royalty because of possible improper protection and/or lack of interests and investments.
In Ghana, buying and selling (especially foreign goods) form most parts of the main business activities because of the immediate tangible return on investment, which appears attractive. However, little is advanced to breathe realities into innovative ideas which have immense and lasting returns if pursued cautiously. Unfortunately, some of the local people who would be interested to invest in some of these innovations have no direct contact and also do not have an idea about the favorable economics and feasibility involved.
Though, a lot of foreseeable constraints exist which includes the creation of environments that supports innovation; how to build the support, how to make it efficient, and how to get started are some questions that need to be answered. Getting a better understanding of how innovation contributes to our economy will assist in crafting policies to continued growth and prosperity.
Though Ghana is doing very well, our cry and plight for further and sustainable development should be pursued with proper human capital management. If human capital management is pursued properly, Ghana will benefit from a culture that will spark innovation and self entrepreneurship that will lower brain drain, or even if it happens it will quickly get to equilibrium where the number of Ghanaians leavening and coming back will about equal. In addition, it will attract both local and foreign investors, create new businesses, empower the education sector especially the universities, increase government revenue from taxes, reduce the country’s external spending and boost tourism.
We as Ghanaian as well as African should not belittle ourselves in the achievement of anything because of the prospects and potential in us, however with caution. Africa has come very far for us to know of the huge trade-off that exists in pursuing human capital management for the sake of the current and future development of Africa. It is worthwhile to take advantage of human capital management for Africa’s growth.
Alexander Anim-Mensah, PhD
Chicago, IL USA