You are here: HomeWallOpinionsArticles2007 10 07Article 131801

Opinions of Sunday, 7 October 2007

Columnist: Adusei, Alex A.

ALAN K. Has A Strong Message

The Presidential aspirants from the various political parties in Ghana have been clamouring for media attention, highlighted their professional and political accomplishments, and have promised high-heaven revolutionary theories to change the fortunes of Ghana. Some research establishments have also started conducting opinion polls to predict possible outcomes for public consumption. Travelling around Ghana and speaking to some Ghanaians in the diaspora, however, I have heard people refer to Hon. Alan Kyerematen as Alan K. for kash, Action man, “Adwuma Wura”, the man on a mission with a vision, and some youth calling him “Home-boy” for his magical appeal to them. Alan’s message appears very simple and focused: More jobs for Ghanaians through public/private partnerships and higher incomes for Ghanaians through expanded exports. That is kash-money right there in the pockets of Ghanaian men and women, and they love this powerful message. It seems there is subtle hypocrisy on this kash-business by some desperate aspirants and their supporters. What is wrong when discerning Ghanaian voters make money legally to feed and clothe themselves, or what is the assumption here – are they crying wolf when there is no wolf? Let me attempt to elaborate further.

Alan has been in the forefront of trade liberalization and multilateral trade negotiations involving ECOWAS, WTO, the World Economic Forum, AGOA, and many others. Even though Africa is now raking in more money from the commodity price boom, Alan thinks the continent’s fair share of the global trade does not translate into accelerated growth and he wants the opportunity to do something about this. He stated on the Good Evening Ghana T.V show that “If Africa can produce even 1% for the huge $13 trillion U.S consumer market through AGOA, that will be significant”. He is equally convincing when he explains the Presidential Special Initiative (PSI) program that he was associated with.

In 2001, the government initiated the process of diversifying Ghana’s economy which, for generations, had been about 83% to 90% dependant on three export commodities – Gold, Timber, and Cocoa. They reviewed new product alternatives that could: • Improve supply capacity and add price value, • Provide mass employment for Ghanaians, • Provide significant foreign exchange, • Attract investment and entrepreneurial opportunities, • Be technology driven to make it more competitive, • Involve sectors that would have forward and backward linkages, and • Be dependant on existing skills and not on strange new ones. With the above strict selection criteria, the current phase of the PSI program revolves around strategic sectors such as Oil Palm, Cassava/Starch, Textiles/Garments, Salt and by extension Groundnuts, Sugarcane, Grains, and Animal husbandry. A snap review may help.

1. Oil Palm was viewed as the next Cocoa-product for Ghana. It was selected due to its multiple applications in primary crude and fat oil output, as well as its usage in the Cosmetic, Sanitary, and Pharmaceutical industries. Currently, there are 31 Nursery Sites in six Regions producing about 4 million seedlings covering about 50,000 hectares, and it is projected to expand to over 100,000 hectares next year. That is more than the total production capacity of GOPDC, TOPP, and BOPP combined, and it would have a dramatic impact on the Ghanaian economy. Malaysia, for example, earns about $13 billion/year from Oil Palm alone, and Ghana may catch up with the competition.

2. Cassava: It was considered as a staple food crop to feed the nation but again, its Industrial Starch component has multiple linkages in the Paper, Furniture, Textiles, and the Pharmaceutical industries. The foreign exchange potential is enormous, and its cultivation is dependant on existing skills because Cassava constitutes about 22% of the nation’s agricultural output. For employment generation prospects, the Ayensu Starch Factory in the Central Region could serve as a real revelation. This is an $8.5 million modern factory that produces grade ‘A quality Industrial Starch for Unilever Ltd. And Nestle’ Worldwide. It employs over 10,000 local farmers who are, in the main, Shareholders to reap Equity benefits. That arrangement is under the Corporate Village Enterprises concept. That not withstanding, these same farmers/corporate citizens have also seen their direct sales to the company jump from ¢150,000/ton to over ¢300,000/ton. Two such factories have also been initiated in the Ashanti and Eastern Regions. There are plans to extend this laudable program throughout Ghana to enrich local farmers and their families.

3. Textiles/Garments: Ideal export products for the huge U.S consumer market under the AGOA initiative. The government provided seed Capital and a Technology Training Centre (Skills Bank) for about 8,000 Ghanaians who are currently engaged in this export industry. Two Incubating Zones/Garment Villages have also been established at Tema with five factory units, and seven other units at Adjaben / Adabraka-Accra. The government provided these manufacturing enclaves with lease – hold arrangements to the tenants but in China, Mauritius, and Sri-Lanka, such incubating facilities are offered free of charge. Obviously, there is a lot of room to climb up on this export ladder but at least, Alan K. has started the evolutionary process.

4. Salt: Another (white) gold that Ghana is well endowed. The production level of Salt is currently at 150 tons/annum but we have the capacity to increase that to about 3 million tons. Salt is an industrial raw material with huge export potential for Africa intra-state trade, and for the international petrol-chemical industry. There are some challenges with various traditional authorities in the Salt mining communities but once elected, President Alan K. could easily negotiate from the all-new Flagstaff House.

There are more success stories about the re-structuring of hard-to-place State Owned Enterprises (SOE’s) that Alan is selling to NPP delegates and Ghanaian voters: (a) GIHOC Pwalugu Tomato Factory, where over 2,500 farmers are currently engaged in supplying raw tomatoes to the new agro-processing factory to add value, and (b) The Juapong Textiles Ltd. Where Vlisco International lay off 1,000 workers but within a short period of 6 months, Alan K. had a model in place and put a team of Chinese Experts together to revive the old plant. About 800 Ghanaians are on the job right now receiving pay checks and feeding their families. Alan may also be the main-man to put his Midas-touch on other dilapidated SOE’s that are moaning for help, for example GIHOC Aboso Glass Factory, Bonsa Tires, GIHOC Bolgatanga Meat Factory, GCD Akwatia Mines, GIHOC Komenda and Asutsuare Sugar Factories, Paga Motel, GIHOC Kumasi Shoe Factories and others. You can bet your last Ghana Cedi that folks from these distant communities across the country are anxiously waiting to vote massively for the candidature of the kash-man to turn their simple lives around. Money (kash) talks, I guess; or is it just name-tag recognition?

Alan K. has also been involved in other kash-matters that may be dear to the hearts of the affluent new-generation entrepreneurs. The government, upon good advice, has sourced financing for the new Venture Capital Fund (with initial $20 million funding), the $200 million Trade Sector Support Program (TSSP), the $115 million SME Development Fund, and many others. Again, Ghanaians have been placed at the centre of his Investment mobilization, export promotions, and his industrial and agricultural revolutionary-crusade in Ghana. No wonder, foreign talent-search agents recognized him in 1994 when he was much younger, as one of the future global leaders along with Bill Gates and the late John F. Kennedy, Jr.

In a humble manner, Alan wants NPP delegates to consider his modest attributes, including these factors: • He is the next-generation messenger with a new message of unity and progress. He is the leader among the younger Presidential aspirants or the quintessential School Prefect, and he wants the opportunity to unite his beloved party after the double-crossing primaries. He was leader of the powerful YEF pack since its formation in 1992, and he still maintains that level of respect among his well-placed cabinet colleagues to make a difference; • He is very marketable to all segments of the voting public, especially the critical 12% to 15% Floating Voters required to win one-touch Presidential elections against any formidable NDC candidate. The open secret is his family’s multi-ethnic advantage that cannot be easily ignored in key Regional areas. He is also blessed with natural charm and he is credible to the larger populace. The smart way he launched his ambitious campaign on Monday 24th September, 2007 is, perhaps, testimony to his own organizational capability; • He is a candidate with a high level of international exposure, an attribute that must come with the person into the job from day one. His exposure started way back as the Chief Executive of Enterprise Africa (a UNDP affiliate), and he is still fortunate to have live-contacts with powerful international leaders. This situation could truly benefit all Ghanaians with minimum protocol; • He is a candidate with the vision to deliver significant value to what the NPP government has achieved so far. Most Ghanaians feel strongly that there is still a substantial balance to deliver in the creation of quality/high-paying jobs (instead of the mass petty trading in dog chains and pure water) in the productive sectors of our economy. Again, Alan’s past records from Empretec, MDPI, and as a Cabinet Minister are indeed credible. He has a very clear understanding of the big picture ahead of us, and has the unique fortitude to move Ghana forward; and • He is also a candidate who has shown enormous commitment to the NPP as a Founding Member, as the Chairman of the YEF, and as a member of the Executive Council since 1992.

The heat is on for the delegates to decide in December but the final verdict will rest with the good people of Ghana. They all have to sift through the wheat from the chaff. The candidate who has been most sensitive to the needs of the youth, farmers, technicians, private sector players and civil society will win the final battle. While we are celebrating Ghana’s 50th anniversary in 2007, it is most appropriate to take stock of our current economic situation and project our growth path for the next 50 years. We should be mindful that Ghana was at the same economic level with South Korea 50 years ago but we are merely crawling at this time. Alan’s value proposition to the current political dispensation in Ghana is his unique modern management application and private sector organizational approach in the arena of political governance. Under his stewardship, for example, Ghana is producing about 85% of all exports (from qualified countries) to the U.S under the AGOA program. Again, we have a lot of catching up to do with the Asian Tigers, and Alan K. says he has the political and leadership qualities to deliver the chunk of the remaining balance to reflect in our pockets. This message is starting to sink in real fast just when many of the delegates are thinking about X’mas gifts for their loved ones. By the way, who fixed the Congress date? God bless mother Ghana.

By: Alex A. Adusei, Founding Member, NPP USA.

Views expressed by the author(s) do not necessarily reflect those of GhanaHomePage.