Feature Article of Wednesday, 25 January 2012
Columnist: Kpesese, Christian
By: Christian Kpesese
Ghanaian Companies have over the years been relegated to the background to play second fiddle to foreign firms when it comes to involving themselves in industry, finance and the general control of the national economy for the maximum benefit of its people. In a sense, we seem to have forgotten that, Local Content is the degree of local ownership, control and financing by citizens of a host country in a specific venture or entity that promotes and enables the optimal use of the country`s human resources, raw materials and services. From the above definition, it is obvious that, the need for Ghana to develop a local content policy/legislation is long overdue. It is even more crucial and relevant at this point in time of the nation`s development when the country seems to have no choice than import almost everything.
It is therefore welcome news to note that, the Volta River Authority [VRA] is perfecting its vision of setting the standard for Public Sector excellence in Africa by organizing the first ever stakeholders forum on ways of maximizing local content as an important component for development.
The forum was on the theme; ``Practical Initiatives for Promoting Local Content Development in the Power Utilities and Related Industries in Ghana – The Way Forward``. It brought together stakeholder experts from Academia, Industry, manufacturing and knowledgeable policy formulators who brainstormed and agreed on measures required to ensure capacity building to enhance local competitiveness, create better conditions for economic growth, employment generation and the development of the nation as a whole. VRA alone spends over 1billion US dollars annually on the importation of goods and components as part of its procurement processes. It has for over 50 years dealt mainly with foreign consultants and contractors for the purchase of components for construction and the maintenance of the Akosombo Dam, the Kpong Dam, and the Takoradi Thermal Generating Plant with little or no involvement of local partners.
The Local Content concept has the potential of reducing drastically or eliminating the financial burden of VRAs procurement system through foreign exchange. It would also strengthen relationship with indigenous contractors and create more jobs for Ghanaians.
The Volta River Authority`s major objective of ensuring and implementing a local content policy entails the following;
• Exploit the country`s resource endowment in an environmentally sustainable manner
• Attract increased local value-added investment in the industrial sector
• Facilitate technology transfer to Ghanaians and
• Domesticate knowledge, expertise and technology in industry.
It is important to note that, until the advent of a local content policy formulation agenda, foreign investors are not obliged by any law whatsoever to have local partners, employ indigenes, transfer technology and know-how or even have citizens of host nations of their firms in management positions. The development of a local content policy would require expatriate investors to obey laid down regulations and empower citizens to overcome challenges and limitations such as finance to do business, capacity building and the transfer of technology and knowledge to enable indigenes take control and maximize the benefits to the state and her people.
To demonstrate its commitment to a local content agenda, VRA has set up a Local Content team to develop strategies and put in place measures for the effective implementation of local content in VRA`s procurement process.
It is also gratifying to learn from the visionary leadership of VRA who has positioned itself as a strategic industry and gone ahead to set up a local content team and desk aimed at developing a suitable local content for the consideration of the envisaged National Content Policy covering all sectors of the economy.
VRA has indeed set the pace. It is hoped that other sectors of industry and the economy including, Tele- communication, Pharmaceuticals, Construction, Mining and Manufacturing would take a clue from the VRA example.
The Volta River Authority believes in the discipline of getting things done quickly and professes values of trust, integrity, innovation, teamwork and accountability.
The media cannot afford to be left behind but lead the crusade to ensuring that, the country develop a comprehensive National Local Content Policy to defend, protect and preserve the future generation.