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Opinions of Friday, 21 October 2011

Columnist: Adu-Otu, Yaw Asare

Nkrumaism, Oil Revenue and Economic Development of Ghana

By Yaw Asare Adu-Otu,

Woodbridge, VA; October 20, 2011

Opponents and detractors of the work by Kwame Nkrumah and the Convention Peoples’ Party, CPP, focused so excessively on political matters that they ignored paying attention to proposals and moves he made to extricate Ghana from the harmful effects of residual colonial economic model at independence. Essentially, the colonial economic model was one in which world capitalist forces exploited resources from the colonial territories.

Failure or refusal of opponents to the Gold Coast revolution to pay attention to economic needs of the colonial territory left Nkrumah alone to devise the political and social means to save resources of the land for the citizens. Kwame Nkrumah remained resolute and undaunted with the struggle to liberate the Gold Coast as a viable independent sovereign nation in a region of the world whose people lived under conditions controlled and directed by alien powers. Even after Nkrumah and the CPP had won successive political victories in the struggles with opposing forces of the Gold Coast, the detractors and opponents took advantage of political socialization to pass down their negative ideas to younger generations of the society thereby frustrating the progressive development program of the Nkrumah regime. This short essay is a provocative attempt to discuss what an nkrumaist administration could look like in Ghana at a period when the country could be beneficiary of relatively higher revenue from commercial oil drilling. Although Kwame Nkrumah did not live long enough to take Ghana to economic height he expected, he showed the way towards economic justice of society. From the residue of work Kwame Nkrumah accomplished in his lifetime, Ghanaians now have the chance still to stand on his legacy to move the nation up the economic ladder. The historical evidence indicates that an nkrumaist administration now can build Ghana with a flourishing economy for the benefit of the people. Short of autarky, an nkrumaist government would strive to secure and protect the economy of Ghana against the exploitative tentacles of world capitalism. With the knowledge that Ghana lags behind a good portion of the world in industrial production using modern technology, an nkrumaist administration would seek to engage in partnerships with those industrial entrepreneurs willing to share their know how in enterprise building with Ghanaian workers. As Prime Minister, Kwame Nkrumah proposed in the Gold Coast Legislature his willingness to accept and encourage participation of foreign capital in the country’s economy under conditions beneficial for advancing development needs of the country. In that regard, Nkrumah revealed intent of the CPP government to produce electricity to feed industrial production by damming the Volta River and constructing an aluminum smelter. Nkrumah stressed, “Economy of the country needed expansion into other areas especially with regard to industrial development.” By expanded industrial development, Nkrumah had in mind establishment of new enterprises with assistance from sources with expertise in managing and implementing industrial projects. Therefore, “we welcome foreign enterprise.” Nkrumah surmised. Always the forward thinker, Nkrumah noted, “It was only to be expected that foreign investors would require assurance about the conditions which would apply to their investments.” In exchange for that assurance to investors, Nkrumah’s government required that foreign enterprise operations included provision for training of local workers for eventual employment in senior appointments. Thus, while Nkrumah encouraged entry of foreign capital into the country, he had an eye on preparing the groundwork for training of citizens to qualify them for industrial production responsibility. In that instance, it seems the Japanese and Chinese borrowed some ideas from the vision of Kwame Nkrumah regarding how citizens could learn from what existed in industrial production processes in other countries. Using that approach, the Japanese and Chinese developed independent local knowledge, content and technology for industrial manufacturing; without re-inventing the wheel, so to speak. Nkrumah hinted on his preparedness to make reserve funds of the Gold Coast available for investment in large enterprises. In addition, he indicated that where approached, the Gold Coast government would be willing to participate in those foreign enterprises“which could be shown to be economically sound.” Nkrumah considered that if participation of government in a large enterprise proved to serve the national interest, the government must reserve the right to insist on a partnership arrangement. After all that sounded like a blanket invitation for foreign investors to participate in the Gold Coast economy, Nkrumah issued a caveat preventing direct investment of foreign capital in public utilities. Meanwhile, Nkrumah instructed relevant ministries to assist foreign investors in acquiring suitable sites for factory buildings and staff accommodation. Now, fast forward to the early 21st century when Ghana had entered into a period of commercial oil drilling. In the consideration of producing electricity to support industrial productive capacities of Ghana, an nkrumaist administration would seek to acquire and apply the best available means to generate electricity from the natural gas by-product from the oil drilling industry. In that instance, an nkrumaist administration would seek to localize electricity production by locating natural gas-fueled generators at close proximity to municipalities, townships and aggregate communities throughout the country. At that juncture, government would direct Ghana’s hydro-electricity supply for dedicated use by small and large industries only, while exporting surplus power to neighboring countries. An nkrumaist administration would then set up facilities for turning natural gas to liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) and propane for domestic use. Thus, Ghanaians would move away from cooking with wood fire and charcoal, to cooking with gas. In that regard, an nkrumaist government must consider making LPG/propane cylinders and cooking appliances available at affordable prices to families and individuals. Over time, cooking with gas would become mandatory in Ghana as a way to save the country’s forest from depletion.

An nkrumaist administration would take advantage of availability of LPG/propane to intensify enforcement of existing laws against human encroachment on the forest cover protecting water basins of rivers and streams in Ghana. The government would assist enhancement of conditions for rural industrialization through capacity building programs that support local ideas and innovations. Government would motivate graduates from Ghana’s technical schools and polytechnic institutions to ply their technical skills in rural areas of the country.

At the time of writing, the oil drilling business in Ghana had served as a magnet already for attracting some foreign investors. An nkrumaist administration would review activities and operations of these new foreign investors regularly to ensure their contribution to the economic interest of the country. Nevertheless, the nkrumaist government would insist that certain enterprises such as alluvial gold and diamond mining as well as retail trading stay reserved for only Ghanaian participation. In addition, the government would require foreign investors to provide conditions for training their Ghanaian workers in the technical aspects of their business operations with a view to promoting them (the workers) to take on higher responsibilities and positions and thus develop local capacity for sustainable development. In an nkrumaist administration, government would not hesitate to enter into partnership with large foreign enterprises. The government would also support private Ghanaian owned businesses with funds and through legislation to enter into partnerships with foreign enterprises that have potential to contribute to economic interest of the country. In the final analysis, laying the groundwork for Ghanaians to be able to produce (and reproduce) the conditions necessary for their daily existence would be the rational basis for economic development of Ghana. Therefore, after securing the economic performance of Ghana in the hands of Ghanaians with supervision of the state, the nkrumaist government would take steps to ensure that benefits from oil revenue have far-reaching effect on every citizen according to the needs of the individual. Towards satisfying the needs of every citizen of Ghana, an nkrumaist government would execute serious public policies that ensure provision of adequate social services such as delivery of public health, public education and public transportation. At the initial stage, an nkrumaist government would provide free basic education and chances for rudimentary skill training. The nkrumaist government would lay the foundation for Ghana to sustain provision of free basic education for a period of 25 years. All qualified students would receive public assistance to obtain second cycle education. In addition, government would support all deserving students for higher education based on the needs of the country. In short, in an nkrumaist regime, there would be no reason for any qualified school-age citizen to stay away from the appropriate level of education. With an nkrumaist government, Ghana would be the subject for advance public healthcare services at par with the highest standards possible. Every Ghanaian would be the beneficiary of medical services at the highest standards. In addition, to healthcare delivery, Ghana would become a great center for the training of medical professionals at all levels. With revenue from oil drilling on hand, an nkrumaist government would create a national public building construction corporate body tasked to build affordable houses from local materials for ownership at affordable mortgage rates for Ghanaian workers. The government would encourage private sector participation in the provision of public housing through partnership arrangement with the state as job creation mechanism.

An nkrumaist government would lift the woes associated with the existing state of transportation in Ghana off the heads of citizens. In that regard, government would develop road transportation in Ghana to be the envy of the world comprising highways, a network of first class roads and an expanded railway system. The nkrumaist government would solve problems of urban transportation gridlock with provision of rapid transit systems such as the monorail and dedicated bus routes. Government would equip the Ghana Air Force to provide air transportation to the civilian sector in critical and emergency situations. There would be regional airports to accommodate private and public air transportation services.

In an nkrumaist administration, food security would be the basis for upgrading and modernizing agricultural production with a view of curbing rural to urban migration. Thus, agricultural development would be in tandem with rural development in reality.