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Opinions of Friday, 7 February 2014

Columnist: Akpah, Prince

A Night Spent at The Accra Discourse

. It was great night after normal work, for me to join other young change makers in Ghana for the Global Shapers Accra Hub, a community of the World Economic Forum initiative the Accra Discourse here in Ghana.

Talking about time, it was very surprising that they managed to defy all odds to commence at exactly 6:30pm. With a brief introduction of what the Global Shapers Community was by the MC, Global Shaper Yawa, she made us know that the Accra Discourse is a monthly conversation and networking event where passionate voices in Ghana connect with key drivers within sectors of leadership, business and development to have conversations that contribute to shaping the future of Ghana.

The guest speaker for the Discourse, Mr. Kofi Kwakwa is the founder and CEO of Sagevest Holdings, an investment holding company that makes private equity and venture capital investments in promising West African Companies. He is a World Economic Forum Global Leader for Tomorrow, chairs the Board of Director of Ashesi University a university in Ghana, and also sits on Fanisi Venture Capital Management SA, a Luxembourg-registered Fund investing in East Africa.

Commencing his interaction with his opening thoughts, he made us known, he knows what it is to be broke and rich and after sharing a story with us commenced the conversation by saying Money can’t buy happiness. Also knowing that Ghana is a hot investment destination now, he expressed worry on why Ghanaians themselves are not investing here. Quoting report from the Ghana Investment Promotion report for 2013; Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) was $4 billion and local Investment stood at $300 million. Also in 2013 the FDI fell by 24% whiles the local Investments also fell by 50%. Answering a question by a participant on this issue he explained it by referring it to the blame everyone placed on the Court Case, and advised if our country should every four years go through same dilemma, we ourselves would get to suffer more.

Speaking on issues on getting funds for investing, investors now advise funds to put 10% of the investment capital aside.

Whiles talking on the attitudes of Ghanaians, he said almost everyone looks up to their own self, defending it by saying almost 90% of investments in Ghana are from outside. Monies that leave Ghana are from the mispricing of natural resources and expatriates who come for FDI. If we get our house in order, price natural resources, in few years we won’t need FDI. Taking statistics on the GDP, he talked about the percentages that our GDP shares in the market with 50% to services, 29% to industries and 21% to Agric. He advised agric really needs a boost to move the economy forward. Defending his reason on why we need to invest in ourselves, he explained further stating FDIs goes to places that do not fit our structures. FDIs will collapse, but all other countries are churning out other support systems for it.

Also Speaking on the geographical distribution of the FDI, 95% goes to the Western and Greater Accra Regions. So we need to find ways to invest here ourselves especially in the Agric Sector in the other regions.

Responding to further questions by participants on agric, he said the agric sector is a moral dilemma. We have an understanding that farmers are very demeaning, so they grow up not recognizing farming as rewarding and an exciting business. He also said we have the best of lands and water here in Ghana and If we can produce things we consume ourselves, then our food stuffs will be very cheap. Speaking on poultry, 70% of the cost is directed to feed, where 90% of the feed is made from maize and sorghum. So because these raw materials are highly produced in Brazil, chicken is very cheap in Brazil and that is we would keep importing. Before we call on other investors, we need to invest our own monies first. Answering a question on how we should groom more political entrepreneurs, he started by sharing a conversation he had with his mentor in South Africa, He told him “Kofi you are stupid”. So when he asked him why, he answered “people like you come and sit down and give the jobs to the foolish people run”. He explained even we Ghanaians do not recognize ourselves as role models. So if we want to achieve that, he advised there is strength in numbers, so we need such people in numbers so that can work together. Explaining further and talking about the Ghanaian culture he said Ghana’s airport is the only place made difficult to Ghanaians even to enter. No country develops without its people. We can appreciate foreigners but we need to remember we have people here.

Speaking on issues of Ghana owning a refinery, he said it is necessary for us to refine our own oil here and use. But he said what was more important to him about the oil discovery in Ghana was the benefited of the gas. Stressing the gas can have a transformation on the economy. It can be used as an energy and fertilizer which will make us produce fertilizers locally.

Also answering a question about how to coach people who think uniquely, he explained to us why he left his job to set up his company relating to the question. When he was working he needed a role model, but looking at all his bosses, none of them fit to be one which meant to him that he doesn’t want to be doing what they were doing. He advised also that as youths we must not be boastful but exhibit self confidence, that we as young people can be role models so that people can learn from us so that we can coach others. Giving his closing remarks we said, we are in a very opportune moment in this country. We are in a very good position to have impact on this nation. We’ve got the energy. The world is not about ownership but rent where you can access. There are several things we don’t need to own but can access. And also we need to act as a group and feel free to take steps alone. Thank you.

Akpah Prince

akpahprince@ymail.com

akpahprince.wordpress.com