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Opinions of Wednesday, 27 July 2005

Columnist: Adu-Gyamfi, Kwaku

New Year?s Resolution is abound: A Nation full of Dreamers.

Want to hear stories? Ask a Ghanaian whether his/her new year?s resolution was fulfilled. Almost every person in Ghana has tales of fabulous new year?s resolution he set ,but couldn?t fellow: ?Jack, two years ago I wanted to stop drinking, but I?ll do that this year?. ?This year I?ll quit smoking before Christmas?. ?I?ll work on my marriage this year?.

Every year, as individuals we are expected to start the new year with some dreams and aspirations(or should I have said inspirations?).Nevertheless ,as a nation we expect our leaders to start every year?including 2005?with attainable goals. Because our nation has a lot of issues and challenges?socially and economically?which can not wait any longer.

By goal, I?m talking about a clear collective destination and a sense of how it should be achieved .We need to know where we?re going, and how we should get there. I mean , a tangible , practical measurable goal?with supportive activities that can bear wealthy edible fruits. Remember, a Goal without a supportive well-defined agenda is just a WISH. As individuals, it?s okay to dream , but we can?t afford to have leaders with only DREAMS. Our leaders need to have ?VISIONS?, because we?re in hard times. Just as in the biblical times, Moses didn?t have a dream, he had a VISION to lead his people into the ?Promised Land?. A VISION , means the mind is alert and the eyes are wide opened?whilst in a dream the mind is asleep and eyes fully closed. A VISION , in the business world is called, a Mission Statement. In the military, it?s called a Battle plan, a survival Blue Print?that helps the troops to win real wars.

Well, I consider myself either a prophet or Pundit economic ,or a Political Scientist .I speak simply as a Practical person and a very concerned citizen, of this great and viable nation?Ghana .But, I can smear what?s coming.

Welcome to the 21st Century folks. The global economic landscape has changed?we?re in a new hyper competitive global economy, which is driven by breathtaking advances in technology. And ,I think no one can rightfully say that the Ghanaian government or any Party has effectively discharged its RESPONSIBILITIES and done its JOB until every employable (and willing ?to- work) citizen has a steady full-time employment, and until every Ghanaian family is well-fed, well-clothed, well-housed and able to live in comfort and without fear of ARMED ROBBERS.

At this critical stage of our time, there?s no room for complaints, alibis and defeatist Philosophies. What Ghana needs?and in ever-increasing number?are young energetic business people, with VISION. Yes, you heard it right. We need people who are dedicated and willing and able to assume the responsibilities of Progressive, Vigorous business , commercial and Political LEADERSHIP .

With that kind of Leadership , Ghana can drum-up investment by creating consumer and investment-friendly ecology and a highly skilled professional and dedicated workforce?which is committed to a KNOWLEDGE economy, driven by innovation ,entrepreneurship and technology . Hopefully, all of this will be supported by an efficient managed transportation system and dependable communication Network. Because in this age of GLOBALIZATION ,it?s no longer the BIG that eats the SMALL, rather it?s the FAST that eats the SLOW . That?s a fact.

Now ,thanks to LIVE- 8 , a lot is happening around the global economic front ,but it?s not important to register on our Leaders? Seismograph scale. According to a New York Times? article, the? I.B.M is cutting 13,000 jobs in United States and Europe ,but it?s creating 14,000 jobs in India?. The HP is also moving jobs to India and china. It goes on to predicts that from 2000-2015 ?an estimated of 3 million American jobs will be outsourced? to developing countries?specifically ,India and China. This threat is so real that American ?born Indians are making sure that their kids learn Hindi(an Indian language)?to prepare themselves in case they move back to India to grab the jobs which are being exported there. What does this has to do with Ghana? A lot. Both countries? political history and educational system are more or less interrelated. So if India can do it so should we.

With all that, my concern is this: We can wait and keep pan-handling for loans from every corner of the globe .Or commit a goal and take advantage of this global trend. We don?t have to reinvent the wheels in order to fill the gap within the world?s mainstream businesses. Instead of creating a brand-new Printer, we can establish a Boot Camp Refurbishing Depot?for used printers, fax machines, copiers, monitors and cell phones?for companies around the world. There are plenty of ?Computerholics ? and ?Netholics? in Ghana who can be trained for better and wealthy purposes.

What? .Now ,I can hear the knee-jerk reaction to these suggestions. But hold your fire. Before you start belly-aching about how impossible it?s for us to do that, take a look at how fast the Service Industries are moving away from developed countries. It?s a no brainier. With a skilled low- cost labor force, it can be done in Ghana easily.

On the other employment fronts, a Visionary Leadership won?t overlook the potential employment opportunities the TOURISM offers: From food preparation people, security personnel, travel agents, cleaners and tour guards to drivers, language interpreters, electricians, carpenters ,masons and other services the hotels in Ghana will provide to the tourists.

While we?re at it, we can tap into another area which we?re very endowed with. I?m talking about the natural and organic food departments. Yes, you heard me right. Nope, I?m not crazy ! The point is, we all know how much the natural and organic food are becoming a ?religion? , in the Western world. The chemically saturated foods have been the sources of their diseases and obesity. And, we have a competitive advantage in this area. We?re lucky enough to be dropped on fertile land, with great climate which is free from chemical contamination. So we can concentrate on our resources and create an niche in this area. In fact, there ?s a huge market for our natural snails, mushrooms, fruits , edible leaves and plants. Folks, every country makes its income from the ?exports? , of goods and services. No country gets rich by sitting on its natural resources .Yet I?m amazed at how we focus only on gold ,timber and cocoa, as our main sources of income.

Speaking of exports, since our skilled professionals(who were trained with Ghana?s money) have been forced to be economic- exiles, in the western world, why don?t we supply the western countries with our skilled soccer players? I?m not talking about the few individuals playing for the foreign teams.. I?m more or less talking about the government aggressively setting up a Soccer Boot Camp, to train our youth?then help them sign contracts with the foreign teams. I believe once that goal is achieved not only the individuals players involved will get a sizeable income, but the nation will reap a huge benefit from the ?investments? the players will eventually make ,back home in Ghana. ?Yeah, Yeah,?. I can feel the negative impulses going haywire .But ,Calm down ! Wouldn?t you like to see our hapless and hopeless youth engaging in something like that than them selling two dog-chains on the road side of Accra? Voila ! Are you there?

Another revenue generating source the government is neglecting is the REMITTANCES from the Ghanaians abroad. I called it the ?CASH COW?. Well, by now it?s no longer news that the remittances from the Ghanaian migrants to Ghana is in the neighborhood of 4 billion dollars a year?according to the government?s own estimates and account. So it means this sector alone accounts for more than all the exports and loans the government gets from the donors. In fact, if this was a natural resource like timber or gold ,the government would have done everything to protect its longevity and steady flow of income. But, no comprehensive plan (program) is in place to protect this sector .

Oh, no,! I?m not even talking about protecting us from the vengeance of the Armed Robbers, or the emotional frustration we experience when we visit home. I?m not even worried about those things anymore. Because for most of us, to show love to your fellow Ghanaians (who have been burnt by misplacing their trust) back home ,is often to risk your own life or certainly your name and reputation. Trusting your own family members is? how to put this nicely??a very risky enterprise in Ghana these days. So my main concern is: how best the government can ease the headaches we go through in order to send some money home to our loved ones we left behind. Case in point: It costs an average of 4-10 percent to send money home?depending on the company you use and the amount of money you send. This means?according to my middle school arithmetic?if we sent 4 billion dollars a year we have already paid between 4-10 percent of this amount to the Western Unions, Money Grams and the Vigos. Let?s factor this into our Goal setting equation. I wonder?just wonder, if Ghana can make use of some of these transaction fees. And, it?s not a small thing to sneeze at. With the internet, a home cultivated ,reliable and cheaper system can be created to help us and the government to reap the benefit of the money transfer business. But who wants to be bothered with the ?migrants? problems??

Hear this: right now our former MPs are busy hijacking the government?s bungalows, while the government is paying 65 dollars a day each to house the newly ?minted MPs. in hotels. Yep , you heard it right?65 dollars a day for all the MPs. Talk about stupidity. I?m not trying to be cynical .or anything, but really isn?t integrity or credibility an important part of the Ghanaian Leadership? A visionary Leadership won?t do that. Amazingly, with vision we can see that gigantic strikes are being made almost daily, by science and technology?which have provided the means whereby good education can be obtained virtually from any part of the globe. In fact, the INTERNET is the capitalist?s charity to the developing world?everything on it is being given away free or sold at a lost. And, it has also turned into a stunning important archives of documents and information. Yet, I never cease to be astounded by the inferior mis-education and under-education our youth are getting..

Way up on the list of the national goal should be a college design to train our chiefs, kings, community leaders and assembly men and women?in money and business management, entrepreneurship, conflict management, mentoring, town management and leadership skills. This school or college will speed up the rural developments and prepare our local leaders for any national leadership position. But, I wonder if anyone is listening .

Now, come with me. Our next stop is the healthcare sector. Yes, I know that all our doctors and nurses are gone . So I?m not here to propose any radical medical delivery system. But, I?m sure we can train some middle -level medical personnel within some few years, to deliver primary healthcare to our students and people in the villages. I can?t wait to see the day when each school can get its own nurse to treat common cold and fever or small cuts. Or a visiting nurse in churches every Sunday to check the members? blood pressure and blood sugar levels will be a step in a right direction. But, I can bet with my last cedi that some people will see this as something coming from a man with a few bolts loose. Nevertheless, people with vision and goals will see it differently..

With VISION ,we can learn a thing or two from the TSUNAMI DISASTER. We can either wait until it happens to us in Ghana or build a Emergency Response Management Team(ERMT).The experts believe that thousands of deaths might have avoided if a WARNING SYSTEM had been in placed. At present, Ghana is saturated with an FM radio stations and Cell phones Networks. So what the government can do is to team-up with these companies and use their text messaging systems and the airwaves to alert people when natural disaster strikes or in an Emergency situations to save lives.

Another area which needs a VISIONARY LEADERSHIP is the Ghana Police Service. I read somewhere on the Ghana Web that the Parliament has approved the purchase of an aircraft, from South Africa, for the Police Service. But, please don?t ask me whose idea was it. On that note, I have quietly hatched a plan to offer a Pro Bono advice to the Police Service. First of all, there are more important basic things the aircraft money can do for the Police. So, I ?d like to start from the basics: a)the uniforms need to be changed, to reflect on the climate conditions and the environment our men and women work under. A ?T?-shirt with a pair of short and sneakers on hot days will definitely help the officers to perform their duties very well with some amount of comfort.

b) Some of the money should be used to equip every Police Station with a simple low cost two-way radios .

c) There should be a regular In-Service training for every officer to hone his skills and to keep abreast with time and the new Crime Fighting technologies.

We live in the age of electronic (cell phones and internet).Therefore ,Ghana Police Service should keep tempo with time .Otherwise, it will be a casualty of time and technology?to say the least. The need to create SPECIAL UNITS is imperative now than ever, given the wholesale dispense of our hospitality to our neighbors. On that, I ?d like to suggest the creation of the following units, within the Police Service:

1. A Gang Buster Unit, to penetrate into the crime- infected towns in Ghana .

2. A Special Sexual Assault Unit to investigate and fight sex related crimes on children and women.

3. DNA Lab Unit, to solve suspicious homicides, robbery and burglaries?using hair samples and drops of sweat or saliva.

4. Fraud and White-Collar Crime Unit, to fight the newly ?imported crimes coming from our neighbors and greedy head of our institutions.

5. The last and certainly the most important unit of all is the Computer Related and Electronic Crime Unit. Given the raise of cyber scams, network hacking, Personal identification theft ,internet stalking and even murder, we need to have ways and means to get into the Hard Drives of Criminals? computers. This unit will also be responsible for any criminal activities made on cell phones. It should be able to track any cell phone calls for an investigation purposes.

For all this to work, there is a need to POLICE the police service. And, that can be done by creating a separate body ,under the ATTORNEY GENERAL?S OFFICE. The membership of this unit will be Investigators who are not part of the Police force.

Do I have answers to all our problems? Nope !. I?m merely trying to show that there are always OPPORTUNITIES, through which countries like ours can profit handsomely ,if we will organize and seize them?and disregard the pessimistic auguries of SELF-APPOINTED PROPHETS OF DOOM?who refuse to allow us to focus on our GOALS.

Kwaku Adu-Gyamfi,
New Jersey,USA

Adu ?Gyamfi is the President of The People Foundation: People: Providing, Education, Opportunities. Prosperity, and Life Empowerment Tools.

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