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Opinions of Thursday, 18 April 2019

Columnist: Kofi Thompson

Must the privatisation of the Ghana Airports Company be done only through an IPO on the Ghana Stock Exchange?

Sometimes, it is pretty hard, to fathom what exactly drives some of our nation's leaders. Take the issue of resolving positively, the desperate situation, faced by the debt-laden energy sector state-owned enterprises (SOEs), for example.

Ditto the absurd-furtive-manoeuvring, over planned private-sector participation, in the running of the Ghana Airports Company. Why the coyness about its privatisation? Is some powerful cabal going to increase its members net worth to stratospheric heights - as a result of a "strategic investor" fronting for it? Eeiiii.

Naturally, one assumes that most of the president's cabinet ministers, buy into his vision of creating an economic environment, which offers opportunities for as many ordinary Ghanaians as is possible, to successfully accumulate wealth.

Furthermore, does it not make perfect sense, for the Ghana beyond aid that we all seek - and want to see come into being as soon as is practicable - to be a share-owning democracy, too? Hmmmm, Oman Ghana - eyeasem o: asem kesie ebeba debi ankasa. Yooooooo.

The question then is: Why is it that so many of the geniuses who govern our nation, seldom think of the benefits of offloading some of the government's stakes, in the most potentially profitable state-owned enterprises (SOEs)? Ebeeii.

If we are serious about getting to that new Ghana beyond aid, then henceforth, the privatisation of our nation's SOEs, ought always to automatically mean going down the IPO route, by floating government's SOE shares on the Ghana Stock Exchange (GSE). Case closed. Full stop.

At least those Ghanaians buying shares in such SOE IPOs will acquire stakes in companies run transparently, not opaque entities run by clever crooks-in-designer suits, who promise the earth, but only deliver endless misery for unwary and gullible investors.

The government should simply do an international search, for suitable candidates to appoint as CEOs for the Ghana Airports Company, Ghana Gas Company, the Volta River Authority (VRA), Bui Power Authority (BPA), and the Tema Oil Refinery (TOR).

The government's transaction advisors should then work with them to ready all those current-financial-basket-cases (which ought to be profitable entities if well-run and free of political interference), for IPOs on the GSE, as soon as practicable.

No question of burdening future generations, with yet more debt, there. Definitely not. After all, we have the shining example of the transformation of the oil-sector downstream marketing company, the Ghana Oil Company (GOIL), to inspire us, do we not? Haaba. If it intends to do so, the government should privatise the Ghana Airports Company only through an IPO on the GES. Period.