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Opinions of Sunday, 22 March 2009

Columnist: Kumi-Addo, Kofi

Ghana needs to invite its diapora people back to develop.

There is no way that Ghana will develop if it does not welcome its citizen in the Diaspora back to come and help and build the country. That attitude of them and us should be stop. I think the first thing that needs to be done is the ridicules' law that if you hold the passport of another countries you cannot enter parliament to be a minister of state. Where in the world will you find such regressive law. But if these people come and establish business they are allowed to but can help to shape laws and policy that will help bring the country into the 21 century.

If you look at the article below it is the diasporas or Indian and China that has gone back help to build it their counties to what they are toady. The have become the envy of the world. That is also true for Israel and Singapore. It is high time that the government create the enable environment so that Ghanaians abroad can come and bring their expertise, knowledge, money and sense of urgency to do things.

The more the merrier

Mar 12th 2009

From The Economist print edition

India and China are creating millions of entrepreneurs

GURCHARAN DAS, an Indian venture capitalist, consultant and author, tells a story about stopping at a roadside café in southern India and chatting to a 14-year-old boy who was waiting at tables. The boy said that he needed the money to pay for computer lessons. His ultimate ambition was to run a computer company just like his hero, Bilgay, the richest man in the world. He may have got the name slightly wrong, but the sentiment was spot on.

Over the past couple of decades India has been transformed from a licence Raj into a land of uncaged entrepreneurs. Everybody knows about companies like Infosys, but there is more to Indian entrepreneurialism than software. Bollywood produces 1,000 films a year that are watched by 3.6 billion people (the figures for Hollywood are 700 and 2.6 billion). The Narayana Hrudayalaya hospital, founded by Devi Shetty on the outskirts of Bangalore, is turning heart surgery into a Wal-Mart-like business. Kingfisher beer is popular wherever spicy curries are eaten. The global slowdown will no doubt pose serious problems for India. But the country's mood has changed fundamentally since the government began opening up the economy in 1991: fatalism has been replaced by can-do optimism.

India has drawn heavily on its expatriate population, particularly the 1m who live in America, to kickstart its entrepreneurial economy. Rajat Gupta, a former head of McKinsey, did as much as anybody to create the Indian Business School in Hyderabad. Gururaj Deshpande, who sold his company, Cascade Communications, to Ascend for $3.7 billion, is a ubiquitous cheerleader for entrepreneurialism. Draper International, which in 1995 became the first foreign venture-capital fund to invest in India, relied on money from Silicon Valley's Indian community.

India has now begun to reverse the brain drain, summoning its prodigal children back home. In 2003-05 some 5,000 tech-savvy Indians with more than five years' experience of working in America returned to India. Such people have helped to fill some of the skills gaps created by the country's recent boom. They have also reinforced India's already numerous links with high-tech America.

India's other advantage is its higher-education system, the top end of which is very good at discovering and developing first-class brains. The British introduced the ideal of meritocracy to India; Jawaharlal Nehru gave it a technocratic twist by launching the Indian Institutes of Technology; and India's natural love of argument did the rest. These institutes, so oversubscribed that only one in 75 applicants gets in, are now as bent on producing entrepreneurs as they were once determined to produce Fabian technicians.

From knock-off to innovation

Communist China's conversion to entrepreneurialism is even more surprising than Fabian India's. When Wu Yi, the country's then vice-premier, visited America in 2006, she took more than 200 entrepreneurs with her. About 60 Chinese companies are now traded on NASDAQ. The Central Party school even offers special courses for entrepreneurs, known as red capitalists. In some ways China has had a more difficult task than India. The Cultural Revolution destroyed the country's intellectual and managerial capital. Few Chinese speak good English. The state is more interested in grand projects-from state-owned companies to giant infrastructure schemes-than in letting a hundred flowers bloom. But China shares one important advantage with India: the army of overseas Chinese who have made their home in America, particularly Silicon Valley. China has used them well.

The Chinese authorities are fully aware of the part that the overseas Chinese played in Taiwan's economic take-off. Since the late 1990s they have been doing everything they could to tempt expats back, upgrading their universities, often working with foreign institutions, setting up science parks and welcoming foreign companies. So many Chinese expats have returned in the past few years that Valley-slang has given them a special name, B2C (back to China).

Many of China's most successful entrepreneurs have done little more than produce knock-offs of American companies, mostly those they studied when they first went to America. Baidu is a Chinese Google; Dangdang is a Chinese Amazon; Taobao is a Chinese eBay; Oak Pacific Interactive is a mishmash of MySpace, YouTube, Facebook and Craigslist; Chinacars is a Chinese American Automobile Association. But even producing knock-offs takes skill, particularly when the original companies are determined to colonise the Chinese market. And imitative Chinese entrepreneurs can bring innovative management methods to China. Baidu's founder, Robin Li, raised funds from American venture capitalists and offered stock options to his earliest employees.

China is also producing some genuinely innovative entrepreneurs. Jack Ma uses a website, Alibaba, to sell goods from China's thousands of corner shops to other businesses. Mr Ma has also created a college for entrepreneurs. Jeff Chen has developed an internet browser which has attracted venture capital from Denmark and is available in 20 languages.

Some of the most innovative entrepreneurs are working with mobile telephony, which is even more important in China than it is in the West. Liu Yingkui is selling insurance, mutual funds and bank services over the mobile internet. Charles Wang is trying to get subscribers addicted to his free text-messaging service, PingCo, so that he can start signing them up for premium services such as backing up address books, selling astrological charts and providing weather updates.

Both India and China have a long way to go. The Indian government is a lumbering elephant riddled with favouritism, the country's legal processes move at glacial speed, much of the infrastructure is a mess and over a third of the people are illiterate.

As for China, Yasheng Huang, of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, has shown how Chinese capitalism is being distorted by the influence of politics. Some 40% of entrepreneurs are members of the Communist Party. State-backed businesses receive a disproportionate share of capital. Even sound businesses are frequently opaque: the Chinese reportedly maintain three sets of books, one for their bankers, one for their accountants and one for the government. Businessmen often neglect their firms because they spend so much time cultivating political connections. But both countries have already come a long way. HBS's Tarun Khanna points out that the entrepreneurial spirit is beginning to breathe new life into India's public sector. Bangalore has replaced its dilapidated airport with a splendid new one, with the help of some private money. As for China's red capitalists, however much they are being held back by the party, they in turn are forcing the party to change. The opening up of China and India is releasing millions of new entrepreneurs onto the world market. Many of them have already shown themselves able not just to translate Western ideas into their local idioms but also to drive technological advance of their own. The world has only just begun to feel the effects