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Opinions of Thursday, 2 February 2006

Columnist: Acheampong, Stephen

Promoting And Sponsoring Inventions/Discoveries ....

= BEST APPROACH TO DEVELOPMENT - CASE STUDY, APPOSTLE KWADWO SARFO

CHALLENGE - JUST DEVELOP ONE GENUS LIKE APOSTLE SARFO TO BE GHANA?S HENERY FORD, MR. TOYOTA OR BILL GATES. GHANA WOULD BE ONE OF THE RICHEST COUNTRIES IN THE WORLD.

?An urgent appeal has been made to Governments of developing countries to focus their attention on assisting local entrepreneurs who come out with inventions to enable them to improve upon their ventures, rather than depending solely on foreign technology for development?-By Mr. Opoku Aggyeman Prempeh at www.newsghana.com , Monday 21st Nov. 2005

?The voice of the people is the voice of God? I thank God for opening the eyes of many Ghanaians to see the vision he has given me. I have been writing a lot of articles about this issue (reference Ghana web Feature Articles-Stephen Acheampong) Let us pray that the Almighty God reveals the power of creativity/inventions/discoveries to our leaders. Mr. Prempeh God will bless you. ?Those who can answer tomorrow?s questions today will be in business tomorrow?. Leaders who can promote CREATIVITY/INVENTIONS/will be the best for Ghana. According WW Rostow, every society passes through 5 stages of development namely, primitive, traditional; take off, industrial, and stage of high mass consumption. Ghana is still at the traditional stage where low productivity, unemployment, dependency and poverty dominate. The only way for Ghana to move to the industrial stage is to have a leader who has strategies that work to promote indigenous INVENTIONS/INNOVATIONS. Indeed, no amount of foreign technology or assistance can move Ghana to the industrial stage. USA, JAPAN, UK, GERMANY etc, had the vision so they started promoting inventions and discoveries, which brought about the industrial revolution in those societies. Critical thinking and scientific mentality that emerged in the Western societies gave birth to inventions. Thus inventions/innovations are necessary conditions for a country to take off. For a society to take off or to move, it needs to have an engine (Inventions/innovations) so Ghana can only take off when we have the capacity to create and innovate. In one of my MBA courses I studied in the USA, International Business, I learnt that Ghana and South Korea were supposed to be at the same level of development but the policies in Ghana did not support creativity/inventions/innovations. E.g. in the 1970s KNUST made a car called Boafo but Ghanaians just ignored the makers of the vehicle to perish with their ingenuity. At that same time, South Korea started making the KIA and the TICO vehicles but the society promoted the makers and now they have reached the industrial stage.

Not long ago, I learnt that a 23-year-old Ghanaian made a car that uses electricity at the time when we were facing oil crisis. I later learnt that some smart investors from Barbados had the vision to come for that opportunity. As a nation we need to protect and promote our natural and human resources. People who are endowed with superior technologies are more valuable than gold, cocoa, diamond etc put together. Do you know how much wealth and employment that the makers of Ford, Toyota, Nissan, KIA, BMW, VW etc. have created for their countries? They were all indigenous people. Can you also imagine how much wealth and employment that BOAFO and KANTANKA cars + cars that use electricity would have created for Ghanaians?

Mr. Prempeh made a point that,

?The government would be doing a disservice to the nation if it failed to encourage local inventors like Apostle Sarfo to develop and expand their inventions?.

This is a challenge to all Ghanaians. As we expect the government to come out with INVETIONS/INNOVATION policies to promote the indigenous people, we all need to be more patriotic. We need to patronize the products of our local inventors. We need to encourage and support them. Let?s name streets schools etc after them as is done in the USA and other advanced nations. This will encourage a lot of people to come out with inventions. Do you know that there are over 100 different indigenous auto makers in China who are trying to be the next to Toyota? (: Detroit Free Press Sat. Dec.17, 2005 p.11A. /www.freep.com). The paper goes on to say that, ?Many Chinese car companies are BACKED FINANCIALLY BY LOCAL GOVERNMENT giving them a cheap source of money, said John Bonn ell, a partner of Automotive Resources Asia.

As a matter of urgency, with the assistance of the government, we need to build inventions/discoveries centers in every district to help identify and promote creativity. One important point many of us especially the academic gurus are missing is that, you don?t need to be highly educated in order to make inventions. Henry Ford who invented the car assembly plant and made the Ford vehicle went to school for just 6 years. Bill Gates of Microsoft and the richest man in our generation was a college drop out. Thomas Edison went to school for 3 months but they were able to make inventions. Many of us also think that Ghanaians or Africans cannot make inventions. Do you know the number of African Americans who made inventions because the LEADERSHIP created the necessary environment in terms of support and promotion?

Check these: THE FOLLOWING INVENTIONS WERE MADE BY AFRICAN AMERICANS.

NAME INVENTION

1. Alexander Mills ? Elevator

2. Richard Spikes ? automatic gear box

3. A Morgan ? traffic signal(traffic lights)

4. Charles Brooks ? street sweeper

5. John Love ? pencil sharpener

6. William Purveys ? fountain pen 7. Lee Barrage - type writing machine

8. W. A. Love ? advanced printing press

9. William Purveys ? hand stamp

10. Joseph Smith ? lawn sprinkler

11. John Burr ? Lawn mower

12. Frederick Jones ? air conditioner

13. ALICE PARKER ? HEATING FURNANCE

14. Lewis Latimer ? electric lamp

15. Michael Harvey - lantern

16. T. Woods ? automatic cut off switch

17. Thomas W. Steward ? Mop

18. P. Ray ? the dust pan

19. Jan E. Matzelinger ? shoe lasting machine

20. Walter Sammons - the comb

21. Sarah Boone ? ironing board

22. George T.Samon ? the clothes dryer

23. John Standard ? the refrigerator.

Source:http//us.f811.mail.yahoo.com/ym/ShowLetter?box=Inbox&Msgld=4876_1755714_14337_2896_1?

These are just the few of inventions made by people of African descent. This is a challenge to all of us. Why are we hungry, unemployed and poor? Most of these wonderful guys had little education but with a good system put in place by the society they were able to harness their potentials. The US government has set part of taxes aside as grants to promote inventions and discoveries. Companies and individuals also sponsor people who come out with something good. God will continue to bless America because they have good plans.

The article on Ghana web about Apostle Sarfo said, ?Many of the machinery and equipment HE manufactured were manufactured after a careful study of imported ones, but with HIS SCANTY EDUCATION, he has to use vernacular and not English [...]?

Most of the youth we see selling on the streets are potential inventors but the society has not created the conducive environment for them to enable them utilize their creative abilities. Most of the people who do great businesses started as humble beginners. Check the history of Kwabena Darko, Addai Cutlass and Just go to Kumasi Magazine and see some wonderful developments that the mechanics are doing.

The government?s policy to restructure education should integrate the works of some Ghanaian inventors like Apostle Sarfo. For instance, we can attach him to School of Engineering so that students will start designing cars, engines etc. Apostle is a genius and a blessing to Ghanaians but we have ignored him for long. He is now 54 years. He has brought a practical way of learning that we need to incorporate into our educational system. He said ?Sometimes I buy equipment and dismantle it and then assemble it. Based on the model imported, we are able to build better ones right here in Ghana, USING LOCAL MATERIALS?. This teaches us that we can also buy toys; machines etc for our students to dismantle, put them together and make sure they work. Thus, buying machines or electronic equipment for our science students to dismantle and put them together again should be the new way of testing their practical knowledge. Sometimes when I go to technology show in the USA, and see the wonderful developments that young kids are coming out with, I begin to question myself ?why can?t Ghanaians do the same?? Students around the world have a contest called world ROBOFEST and the purpose is to show what you can create with your classroom knowledge. Here too I questioned myself, ?what can the Ghanaian student create with his/her knowledge? If Ghanaians are capable of sponsoring games and beauty contests why can?t we sponsor our students to participate in the ROBOTFEST? Ah! Perhaps this is not part of our development plans. Without a change there can be no breakthrough and without a breakthrough there can be no future. We need to grow our own seed so that we can reap the fruits in the rest of our lives. My mentor made a very powerful statement which I want to share. He is an American and he said, ?SET A GOOD MOUSE TRAP AND THE REST OF THE WORLD WILL FOLLOW TO YOUR DOORSTEPS? Let the people in Ghana start doing great things by themselves and see how many foreign investors will come and invest in the country. Why do most companies want to invest in USA, UK, China and Japan? The answer is simple. They started by developing their indigenous technology which gave birth to concentration of industries in their respective countries. The establishment of a car manufacturing company will promote the development of several industries to cater for some needs.

THE IMPACT OF APOSTLE SARFO?S DEVELOPMENTS ON THE GHANAIAN ECONOMY Apostle like most great men in the USA including Henry Ford and Bill Gates is making a lot of positive impact on our socio economic development. Indeed he is a man of the Century 1. He is fulfilling his mission and covenant with God by using his creative abilities to create wonderful things to help people (Deut. 8:18) 2. He has set the pace for industrial revolution in Ghana. 3. He has challenged the educational system in the country which focuses on just one aspect. Thus, MENTAL and pays little attention to EMOTIONAL and HANDS-ON education. For MENTAL education you can only read, write, criticize, blame, argue, seek for jobs but you cannot do anything by yourself. EMOTIONAL education is ones ability to respond to outward conditions to create opportunities and without it most well educated people in Ghana tend to be empty and can do nothing. It is more about creativity, motivation, positive thinking, self reliance, can do it attitude etc. For more information read STUDY THE RICH AND BE RICH by Stephen Acheampong (Achie Series). HANDS-ON education has more to do with, ?go out there, and practice what you know, make mistakes and learn from those mistakes. Apostle has a high emotional IQ and with hands-on education, he could be like most people who made inventions. 4. Apostle has made a wonderful history in Africa. 5. He is creating wealth from the scratch and this is a challenge to Ghanaians that the human mind is the greatest capital we need to develop. The mind is the most terrible resource to let go wasted. Unless we develop the emotional IQs together with the mental IQs of Ghanaians, there would be no break through. 6. Apostle is promoting CHARITY in Ghana and this is the secret why USA is so much developed. ?It is more blessed to give than to receive?.

The introduction of IDUSTRIAL TECHNOLOGY FAIR by the NDC government was a great step and that noble idea might have moved Ghana to the industrial age if people like Apostle were sponsored. Also the goal of the NPP government to develop human resource (2006 budget statement) is a wonderful vision. My concern is how can we make this work? ?No longer can you look upward and blame the idiots to the top of the company for what is wrong, you are now one of them?. ?I had to think about planning strategies for 5 years from now.? ?Each participant is required to bring with him/her a real project that had the potential to dramatically affect PepsiCo?s revenue, quality, costs, or customer satisfaction? Roger Enrico, CEO of PepsiCo. USA. This realization has turned PepsiCo around and it is now overtaking Coca Cola Co.

SUGGESTIONS: If I were in the government, I would make sure a percentage of revenue from taxes is set aside as a grant to promote all Ghanaians like Apostle who come out with something. Government needs to be more proactive by creating a system that works to identify all the highly creative Ghanaians. In as much as we explore for natural resources like gold and diamond, we can also do the same for human ingenuity and this is smart.

Let government, companies and individuals buy some of these indigenous products and put them in a museum to attract tourism and raise funds for inventions. I was very impressed when I saw the first car by Henry Ford and the first Airplane by the Wright Brothers in a museum in USA. Yes, Americans are very smart people and we need to learn from them.

Companies and individuals should also see Apostle et al as ICONS for industrial and economic boom in Ghana so we need to double-click them. We need to sponsor and patronize products of indigenous Ghanaians. I am planning to purchase some of Apostle?s products e.g. a block molding machine (moulds 18 blocks per second -1st in history) and donate to a needy community or some group of unemployed Ghanaians. This will not only create a market for his products but will also create jobs for some good people of Ghana. Another way I feel I can help Apostle is to give him a business advice. Fortunately, I happened to do MBA in the World?s Motor City of Detroit USA where I learnt a lot about why some companies like Toyota, Sony, Toshiba and Nissan are making it. I need to prepare a strategic business plan to assist Apostle.

WHAT CAN YOU DO TO HELP PEOPLE LIKE APOSTLE AND MOVE GHANA FORWARD? Note that the major difference between a developed country like USA and a poor country like Ghana is that while developed countries develop their human capital and promote creativity, poor countries waste time on exploiting just the natural resources like gold and ignore human ingenuity. Countries like Korea, China, and Malaysia which have discovered the secret are moving up and leaving Ghana et al behind.

For our project I want to invite all wonderful people of Ghana to create a forum and think about the possible ways to promote inventions and discoveries by using Apostle as a point of focus. Bravo! University College of Education, Go ahead and document Apostle?s inventions/innovations.

God bless Ghana.

TO BE CONTINUED

BY STEPHEN ACHEAMPONG (AUTHOR OF ACHIE SERIES) USA

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