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Opinions of Wednesday, 28 December 2016

Columnist: Mensah, Opanin Kwabena

Creating jobs: legalize the “connection man”

Among other things one of the most efficient ways of creating jobs in Ghana is the legalization of the “CONNECTION MAN” (CON MAN) to take on the new title as an AGENT. In its most advanced form it becomes known as a LOBBYIST.

As a result of various reasons including but not limited to illiteracy, lack of knowledge/ignorance, cost of doing business, official dereliction/corruption, lack of planning culminating into “emergency”, need and greed - all sorts of people have taking the title of CON MAN and made money by selling known and unknown services to some unsuspecting Ghanaians in the performance of their duties.

The CON MAN is found performing services for individuals for a fee. He acts as a passport agent, a visa contractor; he looks for lands, houses, rooms/apartments for potential buyers/tenants; employment agents and more. Mention anything you want the CON MAN has a solution for it. He provides services for almost every known Ghanaian need and want. He is of much significance to the economy. He succeeds where the system has failed.

While he is noted to be useful to some people, it should also be recognized that he is the very person who causes the chaos and failures and thus the corruption in our institutions. This is because he thrives on such failures. He takes advantage of the perceived knowledge and relationship of the system and personnel to execute his business. He inflates prices in the process of doing business and a makes a “kill” to the disadvantage of both the “seller and purchaser” of his goods.

He is found everywhere. He has good ears and pays attention to details. He is a smooth talker and markets his goods and services eloquently and proficiently. He is very assertive and knowledgeable, efficient and ubiquitous – all traits of a good salesman.

Yet with all these attributes most of them never set a foot in a classroom or most invariably dropped out of school. They pry their trade on the most intelligent, highly educated, rich and poor, beautiful, young, and matured single/married women; politicians and big businessmen/women.

Comparatively, based on reported and unreported cases their success rate is relatively low yet people patronize them and thus their continued stay in business. Where they fail the cost to the victim(s) is very high. Refunding their client(s)’ money has always been the problem.

The police has always been the last resort for collection even though the institution is not legally known to be a Collection Agency. Where the courts have come in the best outcome has been based on a payment plan till the amount involved is paid off. This weakens the victim(s)’ capability to get the services for which the payment was intended.

It will be an exercise in futility to suggest the banning of such service providers. Their clients have always been adults who in most cases know what they are getting into. It is not the business of government to unresponsively interfere in the affairs of consenting adults. More so the transactions are done on the blind side of the law or government. It is because the negative outcome always become a burden on the society that is why the government should step in to provide the legal frame work to regulate the system and make it easy for individuals to register a business entity - set up, implement and operate for their existence.

The CONMAN should be able to register a business entity and set up an AGENCY responsible for acquiring passports for his clients at a fee and pay taxes. The AGENCY should have an office with a secretary, a phone number and a computer to document activities, track business from conception, inception to completion and collection. Clients will have receipts as evidence of written contract indicating fund collection, service provision and refund policy. As the AGENCY is able to deliver it will be able to attract its own clients. It will also be able to attract the needed funding for growth and expansion.

With the proper legal backing various agencies will spring up throughout the country to deal with real estate, nannies and maidservants, home health aides, adult care/companions; “wankyi wankyi”; “kayayo”; infant/child care, messenger services and a host of others. With proper guidance and supervision these agencies will set up their own facility to train and add value to their agents’ capabilities and negotiate appropriate wages for them.

Registration of such agencies and entities which should not take more than five business days would be in the districts not Accra to cut down cost and put money in the local economy. There should be a ONE STOP for all services’ centers in the districts. Every region and local government should have economic development agencies dedicated to assisting new and established businesses start and grow. The steps to rebuilding our economy means ensuring that small businesses owners have access to the information they need to support their businesses and position them for future growth and success.
To conclude it has to be noted that this write up started with its focus on the CON MAN but expanded to cover its real intent – that government regularizes the existence of trades of some of the very venerable citizens of the country to:
a. Upgrade their trades into levels that will attract reasonable incomes for those involved
b. Protect such people from unscrupulous persons who abuse them
c. Add value to their capabilities by providing them with the basic training in the field
d. Direct attention to some areas in the economy that can generate income for the government
e. Attract investors with the expertise to invest in those areas that may generate the required value for healthy return on their investment.

In effect building a healthy middle class should start with the legalization of the CONNECTION MAN


OPANIN KWABENA MENSAH