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Opinions of Sunday, 12 February 2006

Columnist: Akuoko, Kofi

Ghana Must Implement Innovative Quality Programs ...

...To Become Competitive In The Global Market
Quality is the Driving Force for the 21st Century Economy

Quality has become a very powerful strategic weapon in achieving competitive advantage in the global market. No nation can achieve sustainable economy development, let alone compete globally, without broad application of quality programs in all sectors of the nation?s economy.

The driving force for the 21st century economy is quality. Quality of product and service is the key to achieving competitiveness in the international marketplace. To promote economic growth in Ghana, the government has tried different development strategies, most notably the structural adjustment programs. The primary focus of economic development strategies has been on macroeconomic policy intervention. However, issues of waste, poor quality, workers and management performance gaps at all developmental levels have not been seriously addressed. Regardless of any economic assistance package (loans, loan forgiveness, economic aids, etc.) from foreign donors, this country can not successfully compete in the international market unless strategic quality initiatives are used to reduce waste and improve product and service quality.

Long-term Strategic Quality Initiatives

The government, businesses, and organizations must seriously start to think in the long-term by developing long-term strategic quality initiatives. Japan?s quality and reliability success today did not start overnight. After the Second World War, Japanese products were scorned all over the world for their poor quality. Since 1954, Japan began a new era to develop quality strategies. Now, Japan is associated with product quality and reliability. Today, Japan?s quality initiatives such as Lean Manufacturing, Total Quality Management and Just-In-Time inventory systems are being emulated by most nations. Ghana?s low ranking on the global competitiveness scale continued to be a great national concern. In the current competitive struggle for larger global market share, the government as a matter of urgency must start to play prominent role in strategic quality improvement campaigns. The starting point for the government must be developing national quality awards programs; promoting public awareness of the critical role of quality to achieve sustainable economic development; and encouraging and supporting the establishment of professional quality organizations. In addition, tertiary institutions must develop and teach quality courses and programs to bolster economic development. Organizations and business must hire quality experts and graduates with quality background to develop and use breakthrough quality tools, principles and concepts to continuously improve process, product and service quality.

Continuous Quality Improvement

Quality involves continuously searching for better ways to do things; it involves learning, cultural adjustment and integration. Most importantly, quality requires input and participation from all workers to perfect the old ineffective ways things are done. Ghanaians must be educated to understand the relation between quality, productivity and the national economy. Workers must be taught to use basic quality problem solving tools, they must understand that the quality of their life is influenced by their productivity which also affects the national economy. Thus, if quality of products and services are not achieved, their productivity decline and their quality of life decline as well.

The government must harness each of the distinctive Ghana cultural challenges and attributes to improve the quality of made in Ghana goods and services. Japan exploited its challenges, such as the production of poor quality products in the 1950s, limited availability of land and natural resources, and developed quality strategies such as company-wide quality control programs and just-in-time inventory systems to deal with such challenges.

Much as the writer recognizes that Ghana can learn a lot from advanced nations, I do not advocate for blind importation of foreign quality strategies and initiatives to solve Ghana?s quality problems. To a very large extend, quality engineering and management techniques can be modified to meet Ghana technological, cultural and environmental needs. But, the challenge is to figure out how to modified existing breakthrough quality technologies to solve Ghana?s unique problems.

Join Ghana Quality Organization (GQO) initiatives to stimulate innovation and breakthrough improvement in Ghana?s economy. www.ghanaquality.org

By Kofi Akuoko
Ann Arbor, MI. USA


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