Diasporian News of Saturday, 28 July 2012

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Bawumiah Ends North American Tour

Dr. Bawumiah Ends North American Tour in Edmonton with Clear Outline of Nana’s Economic Vision for Ghana

Veni, Vidi, Vici.
I came, I saw, I conquered.
Julius Caesar, 47 BC

The styles were different, the messages were deeply riveting, the ambience was conducive, the humour was appropriate, and the applauses, when they came, were natural and spontaneous. Oh, what an afternoon it was in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, on Sunday, July 22 at the NPP Cocktail event. It was as if divine choreography was at play.

The speakers included Dr.Mahamudu Bawumia, Sir John, and Mr. Anthony Abayefa Karbo. Others were Mr. Kwame Abrefah, Chairman – NPP Alberta, and the Reverend Nicholas Ameyaw, President of the Ghanaian Community in Edmonton who represented the Ghanaian association here in Edmonton at the event.

The audience represented a cross section of the Ghanaian society: male and female; old and young; different ethnicities; Christians and Muslims; professionals, academics, students, retirees, business owners, and all shades in between; suits, batakari/smock, kente. There were representatives from Calgary and Vancouver. And all present were united by two things at least; their love for Mother Ghana and that, they were Ghanaians.

Dr. Bawumia spoke on structural and non-structural economic challenges that have bedeviled Ghana over the years. Among some of these challenges were a narrow tax revenue base, relatively low percentage of Ghanaians who put their monies in the banks or partake in the banking system, high national debt, high interest rates, inadequate supply of energy, dependency on the IMF/World Bank and its attendant stifling conditionalities. He spoke eloquently about how the NPP successfully dealt with some of these challenges during the Kufuor Administration through policy reforms and interventions. Among these interventions was stabilization of the cedi, weaning Ghana off the IMF and World Bank in 2007 and paving the way for Ghana to successfully sell Eurobonds on the International Capital Market, increased competition among the banks that led to better banking services and facilities, accessing the Millenium Challenge Account, the HIPC initiative, expansion of energy capacity, social interventions such as the NHIS, NYEP, LEAP, etc.

A common theme that rhymed through Dr. Bawumia’s presentation was making Ghana globally competitive. In this regard, he mentioned a number of essentials or desirables. These included:
1. a National ID System that enabled Ghanaians (resident and non-resident) and non-Ghanaians (resident in Ghana) have unique number identifiers such as exist in countries like Canada, the UK and the US to facilitate business, among others.
2. A national physical location address system.
3. An increasingly cashless society where electronic cash transactions become more prominent.
4. Making maximum and/or optimum use of talent and expertise from within the Ghanaian human resource pool both within and outside Ghana. Perhaps, buoyed by the presence of Coach E. K. Afranie in the audience, Dr. Bawumia made reference to the Ghana soccer model of utilizing soccer talent, however remotely Ghanaian, and from whichever corner of the globe, on the soccer pitch. If inclusion works on the soccer front, it can work on the economic front.
The above, which were all actually started during the Kufuor administration, will be enhanced and stepped-up under an Akufo-Addo presidency, Dr. Bawumia said.

Dr. Bawumia recounted a joke he heard during his days in Canada as a PhD student. The joke was about 2 friends who encountered a bear in the woods one fine day. One of them immediately started lacing his Nike sneakers. The other friend smirked and said: “you will never be able to outrun the bear in those sneakers”. At this, the other friend said, “well, I will not be able to outrun the bear, but I can certainly outrun you”. Dr. Bawumia pointed out to the greatly amused audience that the underlying point here was that Ghana might not be able to jump to the level of the Singapores, the US, and the Canadas of the world in a flash but we can certainly far out-pace the countries in sub-saharan Africa and some others as well. That will certainly make Ghana the industrial and investment hub in the sub-region.

There were so many things that Dr. Bawumia talked about in his hour-long address that I must admit what I have mentioned in the foregoing is only a slice of the pie. Except for the applauses, one could almost hear a pin drop on the carpets of the Best Western Plus Hotel, venue of the event, during Dr. Bawumia’s speech. Everyone listened with rapt attention, apologies to Dan Afari Yeboah of What Do You Know fame.

At times sounding like a chief’s linguist and at other times sounding like a preacher (the stuff that some great politicians are made of), Sir John was in his element. Witty, eloquent, humorous, and straight-to-the point (ka na wu), Sir John brought the audience up to speed on some of the political and logistical challenges of the NPP and the manner in which the challenges are being addressed.

In Anthony Abayefa Karbo, by his well-spoken speech, comportment, self-assurance and confidence, one could not help but appreciate that Ghana has a great tomorrow in the youth of today.

Yes, the trio of Dr. Bawumia, Sir John, and Anthony Karbo came to Edmonton, they saw Edmonton (as in Ghanaians and their hopes and aspirations for Ghana), and they conquered our hearts and minds with their pragmatism, proposed solutions to some of Ghana’s challenges, and their vision for Ghana under an Akufo-Addo presidency.

Long Live Ghana, Long Live the NPP!!!!

Gilbert Adu Gyimah, CPA(US)
Financial Secretary, NPP Alberta