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Opinions of Sunday, 30 March 2008

Columnist: Ayisi, Gabriel A.

Joblessness, Poverty & development .....

JOBLESSNESS, POVERTY AND DEVELOPMENT- WE ARE OUR OWN ENEMIES.

Sub topic: Why 12 million dollars to repatriate only 50 people?

This is not the first time the author of this article has indicated that unless we diversify our economic base, our economy will continue to be weak and the country will always remain poor. This means we will always junket around the world begging for alms continue to depend on the west to support our national budget. However, diversification is not enough if it does not include a vertical integration mode of production and add value to our raw material resources through extensive manufacturing paradigm.

Why do we continue to export our jobs overseas while our youth languish in joblessness and poverty? One thing that is clear, we export Ghana’s jobs abroad to America and the Europe every time we export our raw materials. By continuing to do this, we inadvertently and effectively create jobs in America and Europe which pushes their economies to almost full employment, while our unemployment figures hover around an unhealthy 20%. This is what is happening to our economy every time we ship raw materials such as cocoa, pineapples, gold, diamonds, timber, etc. in their raw form. For how much longer will we continue to be the producers of raw materials to feed factories in the West. It is only the fool who continues to do things the same way and expect different results.

On American Television there is a program called “How things are made”. On the program, different production processes are detailed based on video footage that shows how things are made, on site, from the beginning of the production process to the finished product. Here, you see employment at display: employment that should have taken place in Ghana. The last time I watched the program was how sand paper is made. I am convinced that Ghana imports all of the sandpapers used in the country and so do all African and other developing countries. Apart from the heavy machineries, the main ingredients (raw materials) are alumina and bauxite which are found in abundance in Ghana. In this regard, why haven’t we set up a sandpaper manufacturing factory in the country to provide jobs for the youth and to earn the country more foreign reserves? This is only but one example.

Instead, the NPP government is chartering a plane at a whopping price of 12 million dollars to bring home 50 Ghanaians stranded in Barbados (Ghanaweb, March 27, 2008):

“Accra, March 27, GNA- Government has committed over 12 million dollars to charter a plane to fly home about 50 stranded Ghanaians who traveled to Barbados last month in search of greener pastures.

Dr Charles Brempong-Yeboah, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, Regional Co-operation and NEPAD, who disclosed this to the Ghana News Agency in Accra on Thursday, said ironically the Ghanaians had paid between 4,000 Ghana cedis and 10,000 Ghana cedis each to travelling agents to get to Barbados for a two-week stay”. Why, NPP government Why? Why can’t we buy each of them first class tickets for their return trip home? Even if a first class ticket costs 10 thousand dollars (a number quite exaggerated), the total cost of the repatriation exercise will be a mere 500,000 thousand dollars, saving the country 11.5 million dollars. This savings could then be used to acquire all the necessary machinery to set up a sandpaper manufacturing company in the country, utilizing our alumina and bauxite and also create jobs for some of our unemployed youth. In fact, in our manufacturing endeavor, we must concentrate on the international market, meaning we will have to set up more than one sandpaper factory. In the same vein we should establish about four oil refining companies in the country once our oil starts flowing and target the West African sub-regional market. Please let us put our resources to good use. Alternatively, the 12 million dollar repatriation budget could be used as a down payment for a new airplane for Ghana International Airlines – our “National Airline.”

Dr. Gabriel Ayisi New York City



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