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Opinions of Friday, 18 September 2015

Columnist: Ayisi, Gabriel A.

Speech on Ghana’s 40-Year National Development Plan

Restructuring the National Development Planning Commission

- A Case Against Developing the Nation Solely Based on
Disjointed Political Party Manifestos.

Delivered at the Political Science Department, Legon on September 2, 2015
- By Dr. Gabriel Asare Ayisi -

Chairperson, Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen, fellow Ghanaians, please permit me to use this opportunity to welcome you all to this all-important function. I am indeed humbled by your presence at such a function dedicated to finding lasting solutions to the myriad economic development problems of our dear country - Mother Ghana. Your presence today, is an indication of the love you have for Ghana.
I am also very humbled and happy to contribute my share in a dialogue on Ghana’s upkeep. Ghana, as a country, is destined for greatness, but hitherto, its development leaves much to be desired. Ghana's underdevelopment has been the fault of our policy makers and the political leadership. The country's infancy in its democratic dispensation has given birth to politics of envy and contempt among our political parties, where exclusion is practiced through a policy of ‘winner takes all’. In the past, sitting governments have claimed sole ownership of economic policies and strategies, which, more often than not, results in successive governments wanting nothing to do with policies and projects started by previous governments. Cases in point in the history of the nation were what became of CPP's projects under Kwame Nkrumah. Most of them, including the construction of the Bui Dam, were halted or destroyed during the days of political upheavals and adventurisms of some young, restless, very hungry, and misguided military personnel. Another is when the NPP discarded “Vision 2020” because it saw it solely as an NDC program. The NPP also came out with its own development agenda of making Ghana a middle-income economy by 2015 which was subsequently discarded when the NDC administration returned to power in 2008 under the leadership of President Mills.
If I may ask, developmentally, how well are we maintaining or managing our resources? Let us take a look at our road and railway networks. We have a situation, where we have even failed to maintain the road and rail systems we inherited from our colonial masters, much less, construct new ones, despite the fact that the number of cars in the country has increased tremendously. At present, there must be super-highways (by-passing minor towns and utilizing tributaries to access them.) linking all major towns and cities in the country. This will not only spur economic activity but also reduce the high incidence of automobile accidents (about 10,000 Ghanaians lose their lives on our roads annually). If one is driving from Accra to Sunyani, with no business in Kumasi, the person does not need to drive through Kumasi. Ghanaians need to develop the culture of maintenance for sustainability. New and first class highways must be constructed from the north to the south: one in the western corridor, another in the central corridor and a third in the eastern corridor each of which could be accessed from the other at various strategic points. In much the same way, there must be superhighways linking the east to the west at various points: one along the coastal belt, two in the mid-section of the country and one in the uppermost section of the country. All the north-south highways must be accessible at strategically selected points by the east-west routes. Why haven’t we been able to extend our railway system to the North through Sunyani after 58 years of independence? Ghana’s development efforts must be coherent and sustainable.
Take any other sector of the economy, and you see much of the same. Our economic base has been mainly extractive and agrarian, limited to the production of raw materials with very little or no value added. Why can’t we incorporate some form of vertical integration into our mode of production and venture into adding value to what we produce? Why do we have to export raw gold and diamonds cheaply for them to be made into very expensive jewelry in the west to be sold back to us at very high prices? We need to reduce the percentage contribution of agriculture to GDP by increasing the percentage contribution of industry/manufacturing, thus creating more employment opportunities and increasing our gross domestic productivity. If Ghana wants to be competitive in the Global village, we need to broaden the country’s economic base.

Let’s take a look at conditions in the rural areas. The government’s poverty reduction measures have not trickled down to these areas. It appears nobody cares about living conditions in these areas. Most places are not even fit for human habitation. Instead of gradual improvements in some of these areas, there has been massive retrogression instead. If we want the rural areas to be attractive to investments, living conditions in these areas must be quantitatively and qualitatively upgraded. For example, hospitals must be planned and cited in these areas supported by clinics. Our farmers, as for now, play the most important role in Ghana’s economy, yet, they are far removed from adequate health facilities, with the majority of them relying on traditional and untested treatments and, in some cases, on quack doctors. Rural industries must be cited in these areas as well to encourage the youth to stay. Some form of economic activity (investment), apart from agriculture, need to be infused in these areas. This will, in addition call for the provision of good roads, electricity, water, etc. This, will, surely, reduce rural-urban migration and significantly re duce the springing up of shanty towns, like Sodom and Gomora, in the urban centers.

Our hospitals are badly resourced and maintained and have been few with no new major ones being built despite the quantum increases in the country’s population. Take Accra for instance, its population has increased tremendously because of rural to urban migration, yet Accra can only boast of Korlebu, SSNIT, Ridge, the 37 Military Hospital, Police Hospital, and lately the FOCOS hospital, Swedish-Ghana Medical Center, and Lister Hospital. Most of these hospitals were built when Accra’s population was 50% less than what it is today. The same thing applies to Kumasi. The only major hospitals the city has known for years, despite galloping increase in its population, have been KATH and KNUST hospitals. Unfortunately, all these are being allowed to skew disadvantageously, despite increases in the population of the youth and a sizeable increase in the population of the elderly and retired.

What about sanitation? Why can’t we rid Accra, Kumasi, and other major cities of filth? We have not been able to do this because policy makers and our political leadership have not made it a priority. In this modern day and time, every house in Accra and all other cities and towns must be required to construct water closets employing the use of septic tanks until we develop an elaborate and efficient sewage system. However, we need water to flush the waste. This is something our government must be concerned with. The government, however, has to make sure there is provision of adequate and constant running water. Nonetheless, this can be implemented, though, if we encourage the development and use of boreholes in all parts of the country. A recent newspaper article reported that well water around Suhum area might cause cancer because of fertilizers seeping into the underground water. However, until we are able to treat the underground water for human consumption, we can, at least, use it to flush our waste, thus improving sanitation across the country. In Accra for example, it will stop the Coastal people from using our beaches to ease themselves. That done, we can turn all our beaches into revenue generating enterprises. The government should use its eminent domain powers and buy the coastal lands and develop them into world-class tourist sites as is being done in Dubai and other upcoming tourist destinations around the world.

The dust and flooding situation in Accra, Kumasi and other cities can be improved only if policy makers and the political leadership of the country make it a priority. What is the sense of having open gutters in Accra while the surrounding areas are not asphalted, cemented, or planted? We should do away with all open gutters. We need to stop building flat streets. Our streets should be gently/gradually convexed and asphalted with the edges raised to form curbs (replacing the unsightly gutters) resulting in a natural drainage system on both sides of the street, which empty into underground tunnels, and drainage system. This is what pertains in the western world. When it rains in the cities like New York City, the water running into the curbs and underground drainage systems are as clear as tap water with no sediments to block the drains. On the other hand, what happens when it rains in Accra? All the silt is washed into the gutters and refills the gutters causing them to overflow and block the drainage system resulting in severe flooding. The gutters are desilted and placed right on the edges of the gutters to be thrown back in again when the next rain comes. Nonetheless, when it is not raining we experience dessert storms like Iraq, and the whole place gets dusty. As a matter of fact, the whole country is one big dust bowl. Simple solution: asphalt, cement or grow grass and other vegetation in all open areas. The government can enact a law and enforce it for every landlord to do this around his/her property including the space between the property all the way to the curb. We need to improve the look and sanitation of all our regional capitals, just like in the west. In America for example, there is not much of a difference between New York, Chicago, Atlanta, Columbus, Miami, San Francisco, etc. The same pertains in Europe. Why can’t it happen in Ghana if we use the oil money judiciously?
The recent energy crises that have befallen Ghana smacks of governments that are only reactive instead of being proactive as well. It smacks of governments that fail to be forward thinking and governments without a sound shared vision. How can we declare Golden Age of Business without making sure, at least, that there will be adequate energy to power the various businesses, let alone entice Direct Foreign Investments? In an age of industrialization, and computerization, we cannot afford power outages. Should this happen, the whole country grinds to a virtual standstill? In 2006, September to be precise, when Kotoka International Airport experienced a blackout for more than two hours, some foreigners at the departure hall vowed not to visit Ghana again…this clearly is a dent to tourism efforts. It is exacerbating the unemployment situation within the country as more and more people are being laid off as a result. The current power outages have also caused many businesses to lose their equipment and machinery. The mining industry, in particular, has been hit very hard and there are reports that cat-scan equipment at our hospitals have also been damaged resulting in many untimely deaths. The negative ripple effects of these power outages are nothing to toy with and must be taken very seriously.

Interestingly, because Ghana, as a nation, has failed to develop its economy, our youth are forced to emigrate in search of greener pastures outside our shores. Literally, we have, in addition to exporting our raw materials, become exporters of labor including our intellectual capital for the development of other countries to the detriment of our own.
A recent World Bank survey shows that African universities are exporting a large percentage of their graduating manpower to the United States and Europe. In a given year, the World Bank estimates that 70,000 skilled Africans emigrate to Europe and the United States. The Pro-Vice Chancellor of the University of Ghana recently declared that while these 70,000 skilled Africans are fleeing the continent in search of employment and decent wages in developed countries, Africa spends an estimated US4 billion annually to recruit about 100,000 skilled expatriates, who are paid wages higher than the prevailing rates in Europe.
The Prime Minister of Jamaica also observed that during the 1977-80 period, over 8,000 top professionals comprising about 50% of the country's most highly trained citizens left the country, primarily, for the United States. He estimated that it cost his country about $168.5 million or $20,000 per head to educate these people. During the same period, he observed that U.S. aid to Jamaica amounted to a total of $116.3 million…a net loss for Jamaica. The loss is even greater, if we compound the contribution of these professionals to the development of the United States as against that of Jamaica.
Each year, 6,000 Taiwanese come to the United States to study but only 20% return home. A few years ago, Zambia had 1,600 medical doctors. Today, Zambia has only 400 medical doctors. Kenya retains only 10% of the nurses and doctors trained there. This, inadvertently, is what is happening to Ghana’s economy and catalyzing our underdevelopment.
The burden of these losses is all heavier for the developing countries, since migrant doctors, engineers, teachers, and scientists tend to leave their countries during the most productive years of their lives. Highly trained manpower constitutes the very foundation for national development and sustained economic growth, therefore, training such people and losing them through brain drain, African countries suffer a double loss. The above is indicative that, merely increasing educational opportunities without corresponding increases in job opportunities to match the graduation rate makes nonsense of our education by fueling brain drain.
To accelerate our development and sustain it, Ghana needs to reverse the brain drain and turn it into a positive conduit for development. We need Ghanaians in the diaspora to assist in the development of Ghana with innovative ideas and resources. With their rigorous, connection in the respective host countries as well as the mother country, the diaspora can contribute in two ways for brain gain to take hold: preferably, they can physically relocate back to the Ghana and help with its development and invest in the home country and play direct active part in the development of the economy. On the other hand, many skilled diaspora, wherever they may be located, have the potential to contribute to the development of Ghana without necessarily relocating physically back home. Information and distributed computing technologies provide a new way to enable distance cooperation. In an effort to change this trend of brain drain, UNESCO and Hewlett Packard joined forces in 2003 to develop several projects, using innovative technology to create a “brain gain” for regions that are particularly impacted by the exodus of academics and scientists.
The benefits of brain gain can be surmised and measured as remittances, direct investments, availing the country of the expertise of the diaspora in their various fields of competence, social networking that links the diaspora with their country of origin etc. Furthermore, through success and visibility in host societies, the diaspora can influence economic and political benefits for their home countries. This type of brain gain becomes an element of soft power for the source country in the long term. Ghanaian Diaspora in the United States and other parts of the world can be positive agents of change and development of economic and political issues to counter the ill-effects of emigration and brain drain.
The expected oil windfall is an opportunity for the government to take pragmatic and concrete steps to reverse the brain drain permanently. The country will need the entire Ghanaian technocrats in all fields in the diasporas to come home and offer their specialized knowledge and services to support the local ones in the harnessing of our capabilities towards the quantum take off of the Ghanaian economy: technocrats in the oil industry, the banking sector, the technology and communications sectors, the management sector, the transportation (roads, ports and harbors), the civil engineering sector, the health sector, academia, environmental specialists, must all be enticed to come home and lend a helping hand as has happened with India and Singapore. We must take advantage of this technology transfer which is readily available at our disposal now and start to train new and additional personnel and technicians in all these fields with immediate urgency.
Fellow Ghanaians, for an improvement in the quality of life of the ordinary Ghanaian, we need to monitor and match the country's natural growth by concurrently increasing infrastructure and job opportunities to keep pace with our population growth: we need to build more schools and hospitals as our population grows; we need to build more and better roads as the number of automobiles in the country increases. Ghana’s economic growth cannot and must not stagnate. The Government must set the stage for an accelerated and sustained development by making sure that all our developmental infrastructures are in place, of top quality and futuristic in nature. Gone should be the days when we built shoddy or substandard roads, weak/insufficient energy structures, despicable health facilities, redundant education, unreliable, sporadic, and inferior communication networks, corrupt judicial and weak political structures, just to mention a few. We need to build a complex network of first class roads and inter-regional highways. It is time to link the north of the country to the south by rail, develop a first class water transportation system along the length and breadth of the Volta Lake, all to facilitate the movement of goods and people and open up the country for massive industrialization and development. Power outages must be a thing of the past. Ghana needs to embark on proactive development rather than reactive development. We must also ensure constant and adequate supply of water by managing our water resources in an efficient manner for consumption and industrial purposes. Our ICT systems must be upgraded to match the best around the world if we are to join the communication and the cyber age and compete effectively in the global village. Our development efforts will also need the support of a robust banking system. Our health sector must be improved across the board to benefit the citizenry. A successful economy will depend, to a large extent, on the excellent health of its people. Our homeland security system must also be top-notch to absorb all internal and external shocks. Our judiciary must be completely devoid of corruption and government influence. Our education system must be reformed and retooled to make it developmentally appropriate to support the civil service and private industry, as is being done at the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, where new academic programs are being developed to support Ghana’s budding oil industry. Our ports and harbors need to be revamped with the 22nd century in mind and expanded to handle not only Ghana's needs, but also, those of our neighboring land-locked countries – earning more foreign exchange for the country. When all these are in place, it is only natural that the private sector, both local and foreign, will have the confidence and invest heavily in Ghana’s economy, creating jobs in abundance to absorb the youth, thereby, effectively nipping brain drain in the bud, and even reversing it. All these will lead to improvements in job creation, increased employment, higher gross national productivity, higher personal incomes, savings, and consumption which will eventually lead to poverty alleviation and improved standards of living for all Ghanaians. We need to develop a natural way of earning foreign exchange through massive exports of value added goods rather than the injection of loans to support the economy. The economy will become private sector led and relieve the government of a suicidal economic situation where 70% of government revenue is spent on paying the wages and salaries of only 600,000 civil servants out of a population of 25 million citizens.
With the above infrastructure and institutions in place the resultant massive investment by the private sector (both local and foreign), all that the government would need to do is to make sure that it has sound regulatory policies in place to monitor the activities of businesses to ensure compliance and the promotion of business social responsibility. The government should streamline its tax structure with appropriate policies that promote investment, job creation by the private sector within the confines of a prudent tax revenue collection system for the maximization of corporate tax revenue.
To develop evenly and affect every Ghanaian community, Ghana needs to take decentralization very seriously. The national government must be prepared to shed some of its powers by delegating some of its economic and political powers to the regions bordering some form of quasi-federation. The regional ministers must be empowered to source their own investments to supplement those initiated by the national government for the regions. The regional administrations must be empowered to initiate bold and futuristic development projects and processes with support from the national government and our development partners to uplift the economic, social, and political conditions in their respective regions. They should be free to negotiate the terms of their developmental agreements and contracts that are congruent with their regional planning objectives and goals. Thus, the government should push control out of Accra and delegate full responsibility and accountability to the regional capitals regarding regional development. I am of the view that the Northern region is too expansive or humongous to be managed effectively from Tamale and needs to be broken up into two manageable regions: North-west region and North-East region. For equitable development, I suggest that, for a period of time, the distribution of development funding must be skewed in favor of the “four” northern regions to accelerate their development to par that of the south. There must be representation of all government agencies and regional offices for all government ministries in all regional capitals with parasital offices at the district levels from passport issuing processes to the health ministry.
For manageability and equitable development, the regional governments must also work in tandem with the district governments by encouraging them to initiate their economic development activities in line with regional and national objectives and goals. Working from the district levels, the district administrators must also liaise with each town and village within their districts and effect, at least, one development project/goal/agenda in each town or village every year...it could be the building of a school, the building of a community center, a clinic, provision of portable water, electrification, construction of a feeder road, a market, the construction of a rural or agro-based industry, etc. Lastly, healthy competition among the regions in terms of development must be encouraged to accelerate their development.
As part of government policy of improving national productivity in line with job creation and poverty reduction, extractive industries – oil and other mining companies - must be required to agree to refine a percentage of their mineral and oil extractions into finished products or some level of refinement in the country before being granted concessions, instead of the unequivocal wholesale EXPORT of their extractions in their raw forms to create jobs in other countries. Industrial sandpaper is made from alumina and bauxite, both of which are mined in abundance in Ghana, but Ghana does not produce a single sand paper. We have the capacity to supply the whole world with industrial sand paper, but have we done so? I have been advocating this innovative economic development policy/idea in most of my write-ups and finally, it appears the President of Ghana has heard my clarion call: On January 22, 2013, President John Mahama announced at the World Economic Forum session on Responsible Mineral Development Initiative in Davos, Switzerland, plans to seek international cooperation to move Ghana from being a primary producer of mineral resources to adding value to its minerals. We need to add value to our resources and produce more, targeting the export market to generate the needed foreign reserves for onward development. It is not only Ghana that is suffering. All the African economies which depend on crops, oil, and precious metals are suffering because of depressing commodity prices world-wide.
The following was culled from a recent article titled “Monetary Mess” which appeared on www.ghanaweb.com on August 11, 2015:
“Africa is battling the global currency markets with one hand tied behind its back. With foreign-exchange reserves equal to less than a 10th of the emerging-market average, nations from Ghana to Zambia are finding they’re powerless to stop their currencies from tumbling amid a rout in commodities and the prospect of higher interest rates in the U.S.”
The following, also quoted from the “Monetary Mess” article, is why we should rely less and less on trading in commodities and more and more on value added commodities or manufactured items:
“I don’t see a reason to go diving into these places at the moment,” said Phillip Blackwood, a London-based managing partner at EM Quest Capital LLP, which advises Denmark’s Sydbank A/S on $3.5 billion of emerging-market debt investments.”

He said his client recently sold Nigerian, Ghanaian and Kenyan local-currency securities and is now “very light” on African assets.

“While a weaker exchange rate makes exports more competitive, the benefits are being wiped out by the plunge in the value of the oil, crops and precious metals the nations rely on for foreign earnings.” - source: mgafrica.com.

Osagyefo Dr. Kwame Nkrumah had the vision of transforming the whole of Africa with Ghana's resources, which inadvertently, was a mistake. Nevertheless, this time around, Ghana needs to concentrate its resources solely on the development of the country into a middle income economy in the short-term and thence into a first world economy in the long-term. I firmly believe that Ghana can become the Japan, the Singapore, the Malaysia, United Arab Emirates (Dubai), all rolled into one, of Africa. Once we reach this pinnacle, Ghana will become the Beacon of Hope for the rest of Africa to follow and begin the renaissance or rebirth of Africa's giant economy. How do we achieve this? This can be achieved through selfless and visionary leadership dedicated to the development and transformation of Ghana's economy, coupled with prudent planning, as well as, through the demonstrated patriotism of its citizenry barring apathy and corruption
This is the time to draw up bold and ambitious plans for concrete, accelerated, progressive, and sustained development. I am very pleased that the National Development Planning Commission (NDPC) has drawn up a 40-year National Development plan to guide the various political parties as they ascend to the reign of government. We cannot develop the nation with the disjointed manifestos of the various political parties as they are not seamless and not compatible with each other. They do not complement each other and more often than not, projects and developments by previous governments are often discarded by subsequent governments. There is a complete break in the process of our development every time government changes hands. This is the reason we need the 40-year Development Plan as a standard guide, a developmental blueprint, a framework, which will be flexible enough for the various political parties to align their manifestos with. For the 40-Year Development Plan to be successfully executed, parliament must enact a law to make it binding on successive governments. The 40-year development plan can further be broken into four Ten-year medium term plans, end of each of which will be regarded as a benchmark and an evaluation point. It is time to put on paper what we intend to achieve with all our resources, both human and other natural resources including oil within a certain time frame and pursue these bold development plans religiously for all to see, at the end of which time frame, all Ghanaians will be witnesses to whatever projects we have executed based on these economic development projections. This will bring about transparency, accountability, responsibility and fiscal discipline in our development processes. Such development must impact every part of the country and lead to some uplifting in the life of the ordinary Ghanaian.
Our leaders have to employ a shared vision approach to development for all to buy into. This must be done through cooperative development and the employment of politics of inclusion as against that of divisiveness, hatred, envy, and exclusion. Ghanaians must put Ghana first and ask what we should and can do for the country rather than what our country should do for us. Ghanaians must invest themselves in the economy for it to grow. This done, the consequent quantum development will lead to higher productivity, increased incomes, and improved standard of living for all. To borrow a line from President Barack Obama of the United States of America, we must do away with all tribal sentiments: There is no Ashanti Ghana, no Ewe Ghana, no Brong Ghana, no Mamprusi Ghana, no NDC Ghana, no NPP Ghana, and no CPP Ghana. There is only one Ghana: The United Regions of Ghana. We are all Ghanaians first and everything else is subordinate. Ghana is a UNITED NATION.
In order not to rely solely on the oil revenue and be able to employ the youth, produce more for export, and naturally earn the needed foreign exchange for continued development, the country needs to broad-base its economy by aggressively diversifying and encouraging entrepreneurship, venturing into manufacturing through the private sector to create massive job opportunities across all regions. Days when the government, through the civil service, was the largest employer in the economy must be a thing of the past. We need to embark on a massive industrialization of the economy and target both the domestic and export markets, especially, the developing economies. Days when the economy depended on a handful of commodities must be a thing of the past. However, diversification is not enough if it does not include a vertical integration mode of production where value is added to our raw material resources into semi-finished or finished goods through an extensive manufacturing paradigm. One thing is clear, every time we export our raw materials abroad to the Americas, Europe, China, etc. it is jobs that could be created in Ghana that are being exported. By continuing to do this, we inadvertently and effectively create jobs in America, Europe, and China 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, timber, gold, diamonds, bauxite, oil, etc. in their raw forms. This is the fundamental cause of our economic woes and the prevalence of “Street Children” and unemployed graduates. Professor Kwesi Yankah, President of the Central University College, has predicted that the number of unemployed graduates would likely surge to 271,000 this year up from the existing figure of 200,000. For how much longer will we continue to be the producers of raw materials to feed factories in the West and around the world except in our own country? This is also the reason why our cedi keeps depreciating. We need these pragmatic economic fundamentals in addition to the fiscal and monetary policies of the Bank of Ghana to keep our economic house in order to hold up the value of the cedi and keep the economy strong.

Globalization is making the formulation of a country's development policies more and more complex. Formulating national economic policies means facing a never-ending procession of hard choices among conflicting objectives. Economic policy involves much more than finding the best path to a clear objective. Some of the many important objectives of policy may be full employment, stable prices, increase in national productivity, greater equity in distribution of income and stabilization of the cedi. These diverse and equally important objectives are related to one another by a complicated system of trade-offs, in that, the advancement of one may lead to the sacrificing progress towards others. We must learn how to generate and sustain creative tension in our lives. We must never be satisfied with the status quo in our lives. It breeds complacency, laziness, and mediocrity. Creative tension is the gap between current reality (the present situation) and vision (a desired futuristic situation).
For a coherent development of the economy, we need a new economic development planning paradigm based on “Systems Thinking Synchronization” to be researched and used to restructure the National Development Planning Commission (NDPC). The new approach must comprise think-tank drawn from government (including reaching across the political divide), private industry, and Higher Education. “Systems Thinking” is a framework for seeing interrelationships rather than things, for seeing patterns of change rather than static snapshots… it is also a set of specific tools and techniques originating in two threads: in “feedback” concepts of cybernetics and in “servo-mechanism” engineering theory. Given the complexity of economic policy formulation, and to ensure the efficient use of our material and human resources thus developed through the increased provision of tertiary education in the country, a systems thinking approach which leads to a shared vision approach to economic development must be initiated by the government. This approach will call for ongoing formal dialogue among the three constituencies (government, higher education, and private industry). It is only through such formal process of dialoguing that the constituencies will be able to complement each other's efforts. Dialogue is a way of helping people see “the representative and participatory nature of thought”. In dialogue, a group accesses a larger pool of common good. In this regard, government, private industry and higher education should meet at the policy-formulation level as well as the operational level and encourage more fixed dialogue rather than ad hoc good-will sessions. Officials who participate in dialogue must be trained in dialogue procedures for it to be effective. They should be encouraged to make their thinking explicit to be explored by each other through reciprocal enquiry, without personally attacking each other. The participants must view each other as colleagues. They must also avoid “leaps of abstraction”, which occur when people jump to hasty conclusions and generalizations without effective analysis.
The 21st century will undoubtedly call for greater collaboration among government, private industry, and higher education for complex research and development projects in the fields of technology, agriculture, health, the sciences and engineering. This collaboration, however, must begin with formal networking among individuals in the universities/polytechnics, private industry, and the government, which may eventually create the necessary basis for cooperation between the industrial and academic worlds on specific projects and lead to formal, broader, and continuing collaboration once they are established. These formal initiatives, however, may require an environment, which encourages relations between the three sectors as well as high levels of institutional flexibility and openness to allow the pursuit of different approaches and modes of cooperation.

It is of mutual self-interest for Government, Business, and Labor to cooperate jointly with Higher Education to help promote economic development because government formulates policy on higher education and the economy and utilizes the products of Higher Education, while Private industry, the substantive locus of engine of growth, also utilizes the products of higher education, and, in turn, it is Higher Education which ultimately produces the technical, scientific, and managerial manpower the country needs for development.

By including higher education and private industry in the formulation and implementation of economic development policies, the nation will be able to forge a focused “Shared Vision” approach to economic development, sustained growth, and economic stability. An ongoing bilateral and reciprocal collaboration between government and higher education, between government and private industry, between higher education and private industry to find lasting solutions to Ghana's economic development and growth problems would enable the three constituencies to develop a common front/shared vision approach in tackling national development objectives. The Universities/polytechnics must also take a more direct initiative through research and other means, to identify and anticipate national needs, and bring their influence to bear on government in setting goals and objectives. Through continued dialogue between the three constituents, higher education will be in a better position to respond to economic and market trends through timely changes in enrollment by field and discipline as well as adapt its curricula to current and projected business and national manpower needs. Most African countries lack the necessary national machineries to ensure that educational objectives, such as manpower training and development, as well as research, are adequately assessed and effectively coordinated and harmonized with overall national economic development objectives. This thinking together (systems thinking) may be the beginning of a formal recognition of higher education and private industry as partners in economic development planning.
The government should, therefore, use the opportunity thus provided and restructure the National Development Planning Commission (NDPC) with a Permanent Tripartite National Development Planning Commission (PTNDPC) made up of think-tank representatives from government, private industry, and higher education to advise the government on economic development policies and their implementation. Members from private industry and Higher education may serve a term of, say, ten years minimum, after which they may be replaced from their respective departments. I firmly believe that the shared vision approach will foster commitment to the objectives of national development goals and eventually lead to sustained economic growth. The collaborative approach will ensure continuity of economic development policies and ongoing development projects regardless of changes in the country's political leadership: when a change in government occurs (through the ballot box), only the incumbent government representatives will be withdrawn and replaced by members of the incoming administration. The new members will thus get a briefing as to the state of affairs from the permanent members. This approach to policy formulation will thus lead to multilateral acceptance of policies, hence commitment by successive governments to continue uncompleted prior economic development projects.
This is the opportune time to set bold, challenging, but doable benchmarks, barring Sub-standard parameters, by planning religiously within laid down time lines against which we will compare our development progress to make sure we are being effective in our development objectives. But being merely effective may not be enough. We must make sure that that our development progress is also efficient, in that, we use the least resources as possible in achieving our objectives without cutting corners. This means we must eschew waste, apathy, corruption, lack of foresight, indiscipline, and lack of accountability.

Successive governments must maintain development projects started by the previous governments and not discard them, while at the same time being proactive, creative and forward thinking regardless. This is what I term “sustained concrete incremental development”. Governments, upon leaving office, must be able to show to Ghanaians what they have added to our development instead of just being rhetorical and maintaining just the status quo. We need creativity and innovation in our political dispensation. We need new and bold ideas from our political leadership that will move the country forward. Just look at what is happening in The United Arab Emirates. Why can’t we learn from the best and be competitive? The best can also come from Africa. We should plan beyond when Ghana’s oil reserve runs out.
Fellow Ghanaians, let’s not ask what our country can do for us, but instead, what we can do for our country. Let us all get on board the development train irrespective of our global location, and take active part in the development of Ghana, directly or indirectly. Let's all help to make Ghana an OASIS OF DEVELOPMENT IN A DESERT OF UNDERDEVELOPMENT by replacing selfishness with selflessness in our attitudes and governance, by replacing apathy with patriotism, by replacing complacency with a can-do and willing attitude and by replacing a cycle of poverty with a cycle of investments, job creation, individual and national prosperity. Let's keep the peace and stability to further our onward development. Let's work hard to make Ghana the industrial hub of Africa. Thank You.

By Dr. Gabriel A. Ayisi, New York City: Honorary chairman, Business Advisory Council for National Economic Stimulus USA; 2006 USA Businessman of the Year Award; 2007 USA Congressional Order of Merit Award.
drayisi@hotmail.com.