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Opinions of Wednesday, 5 September 2018

Columnist: Michael Sam

'Ghana Beyond Aid' - Kantanka Cars vs. Volkswagen (VW)

Political manifestos are the “praise and worship” songs sang on television and radio stations, print media, durbars and rallies during the season of election. The hunger for power can lead people to be extremely intelligent and at the same time sadly daft.

Irrespective of their thinking cups, I personally think we do not cease to be citizens. One of the messages preached by the NPP during the 2016 election that touched my heart was the “Ghana Beyond Aid” agenda. Since 1960, Ghana has heavily depended on aid from developed partners for her development.

The message the President Nana Addo Dankwa Akuffo-Addo had for Ghana, Africa and the world on January 7, 2017, is his desire to prudently manage the country’s natural resources in a manner that will allow the country’s development agenda to be financed without recourse to external assistance—an agenda the President refers to as building ‘Ghana beyond aid’. Even though there have been debates on whether we are ready for this big agenda, I personally believe now is the time.

In the need for speed to ensure that Ghana’s manufacturing develops to the point where we export our manufactured products to neighboring developing countries and rob trade shoulders with developed countries, Ghanaian born Apostle Dr. Ing. Kwadwo Safo Kantanka, the Founder and leader of Kantanka Automobile Company Limited started the journey to researching into manufacturing of automobile components, combination of parts and assembling of car parts. Brilliant initiative! This initiative have seen major developments which attracted investors from China to partner with Kantanka.

From 2001, Kantaka have clocked major successes like first African to manufacture engines, vehicles, aircrafts and heavy-duty machines (he did so manually) but now handled automatically. Today, Kantanka have manufactured over 20 models of cars. This news could have been identified by our leaders as a ground breaking opportunity to invest huge into Kantanka Automobile. But what do we see, neglect and disappointment from our leaders to buy into the vision of making Ghana, the Star of Africa and the World.

30th August, 2018, my president received great news from the German car manufacturer, VW, (During the visit of German Chancellor, Angela Merkel) to set up a vehicle assembly plant in Ghana. I quote exactly what my president said during the meeting - “There are so many areas that our bilateral relationship has offered us, but the key part of it for me is the emphasis on investment and Trade Corporation,”.

As clearly emphasized by my president- Investment. This news comes with its advantage and disadvantage to Kantanka and the Ghana. Many went on social media (LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, and WhatsApp) to share this news. We are forgetting our own – Kantanka. Let’s look at some advantages – Job creations, improved education for mechanical engineers, tax payment, etc. Among the many disadvantages I can share I want to consider Patronization.

3rd April, 2017, Parliament approves $22.5 million loan facility for MPs’ cars. 6th February, 2018, government announced it has acquired 100 Toyota Corolla vehicles in addition to 34 luxury cars worth $8.8 million for the Ghana Police Service and other purposes. The stated figures give me a total of $31, 300, 000 million = Ghc150, 933,295.00. Could not have our leaders agree to invest the money into Kantanka by giving him the contract of manufacturing the cars and delivering it to the needed sectors?

If our leaders do not believe in citizens, how then would citizens believe in themselves? The Minister of Finance, Ken Ofori-Atta, Multiple award-winning actor Akwasi Boadi 'Akrobeto' and the other Ghanaians who patronized in Made-In-Ghana cars, your actions would forever be recognized by the average Ghanaian.

We continually accepts gifts thinking it’s the best but long term it’s so NOT. Volkswagen (VW) founded on 28 May 1937 according to statistics was the largest automaker by worldwide sales in 2016. It was simple – Germans bought into the idea, owners invested, government supported, journalists and media groups did all level publicities.

With the unquenching taste for foreign goods from leaders to the average Ghanaian, we would promote VW cars to make it No.1 and leave our Kantanka to rot. I would not be surprise if our political leaders exempt VW from tax payment because they would get “free” vehicles and continue to ask Kantaka to pay about GHc20,000 tax on every car produced. Ah well, let’s see what happens.

No one is against the “goodwill” from our developed countries. The rate at which the foreign companies are running to us for trade should inform us and our able leaders of the potentials identified in this country. We traded our gold for mirror, we are about trading our bauxite for schools, hospitals and roads we can build with the tax payers money (If and only if the tax payers’ money is managed well). It’s now crystal clear that our leaders are not done destroying the country, they now want to kill the local industry.

Leaders, please use your experienced negotiation skills, partner with our own and promote our own. We should not hide behind the agenda “Ghana Beyond Aid”, accepting gifts, grants and loans and do the dirty work for foreign companies to rule over us in the market.