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Opinions of Friday, 16 April 2010

Columnist: Anekunabe, Emmanuel K

Ghana Needs Restructuring, NOT Rebranding!

I’m compelled to write this article in view of the recent socio political, economic and civil shenanigans and of The Brand Ghana Office set up by the Government. Rebranding Ghana in its generic sense is a means to enhance our national image and identity, instilling pride in every Ghanaian and restoring international confidence in the country among investors, development partners and tourists.

However, it’s not sufficient to evoke sentiments in a bid to sell a flawed project. Rebranding a country merely on catchy phrases and slogans could hardly change a country’s image and prospects physically without “overhauling” the conditions that necessitated the negative image and perception in the first place. Thus, Ghana needs restructuring, not rebranding as observed in Twi proverb “a quality product sells”. A sincere attempt at rebranding Ghana can only commence first with socio political, economic and structural restructuring of the country. The government has to take bold economic and socio political reforms aimed at improving the country’s investment and liveability climate. We need proper long term planning, integration and execution of national policies that suits Ghana’s multi ethnic composition. We need to create a stable regulatory and legal environment to attract investors. We need corrective policies of fiscal adjustment, more flexible exchange rate and financial sector strengthening mechanisms. Foreign investors will be willing to invest in a more coherent and consistent long-term economic and investment policy framework. More so, the socio political and economic problems that give rise to the negative image and perception both internationally and nationally, such as the spate of armed robberies, tribal conflicts amounts to lawlessness, the level of corruption and bribery, cyber crimes, bureaucratic and administrative inefficiencies must be addressed through the various Government departments and agencies. The Government, the judiciary, law enforcement agencies, traditional rulers, politicians and the intelligentsia of the affected communities have to work together to address tribal and chieftaincy disputes for a lasting peace. Politically, the Government and the Opposition have to stop the political bickering and pettiness and work together for the betterment of Ghana. The Opposition have to question the Government of the day and hold them accountable for the electorates. As an alternative Government, it should be responsible for challenging the policies of the Government and produce different policies where appropriate and practicable. Opposition is not just about opposing the Government. We should not allow our democracy to crumble under the burden of ethnic divisiveness and conspiracies.

Economically, with the hope of Ghana’s anticipated oil revenue, we could only look forward to the Government investing in a more stable power supply, functional health system, a diversified economy with much emphasis on agro-based industries, a more practical educational system to meet the challenges of 21st century technological-based labour market, pipe-borne water supply, sanitation and greener environment, development of transportation services and our tourism industry. These will go along way to provide jobs, help alleviate poverty and cut down on many social vices.

Socio-culturally, we Ghanaians need behavioural and attitudinal change as citizens. We need to stop dancing to the drum-beats of tribal politics, mindlessly provocative rhetoric and help preserve and respect the sanctity of the principles of rule of law in Ghana. Our diversity should be our source of strength. The world know Ghanaians as very hospitable, honest, and intelligent, committed, warm, hard working, decent and resilient people. We need to be proud of our rich cultural ethics which have influenced our lifestyles positively. We need to instil patriotism, discipline and social order in the youth to reflect in the civil and political maturity of our democracy. Today, how many school children can sing the Ghana National Anthem? Our culture is our identity and we have a duty to preserve and promote it.

Finally, rebranding Ghana as an imitation of what Nigeria and other African countries are doing right now with radio jingles, newspaper adverts, TV slots and flag waving antics though helpful, does not necessarily convinced foreigners of the perception they hold of a country without complete restructuring to address critical issues to transform and reform Ghana into a “complete package” desired by foreign investors and visitors. Any attempt to “Brand” Ghana without any attempt to restructure is only going to waste our billions in a typical Ghanaian fashion. The money will end in the private pockets of media and marketing consultants and our politicians.

Emmanuel. K. Anekunabe.