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Opinions of Friday, 20 September 2002

Columnist: Amekor, Yao

The Investor Attraction Drive - Which Strategy?

We look forward to them with passion because because we need them badly. The governmet calls them our development partners and it is really a prudent phrase in reference to them. But truely, they are business men in a capitalist world and are only going global. Our development partners cannot in anyway be seen as non profit seeking partners. In fact Ghana's aspirations to see itself develop at a radical pace as a means to the end of better quality of life for the citizenry requires a collective consciencious effort from me and you whether home or abroard.

We have a vision today to get to where the developed world is. It has taken them years to get there. But the truth is that when they started our part of the world was also on earth. In fact our part of the world actually propelled significantly their development. But why cry over a spilt milt? We are left now to see how we can do it. Ghanaians everywhere hail with two hands a passionate action to bring foreign investors the same way they get enthused about conscious action to empower them to be more productive. To cajole foreign investors to really flood our country with all kinds of projects requires a different marketing concept. The truth is that Ghana is today not pursuing the investor attraction drive with the real facts in mind.

To this end, I will like to state that all serious minded foreign investors irrespective of the country they come from are really serious with country and political risk analysis and resources risk analysis are flowing like water everywhere. For our leaders to bring investors into the country, it will take more than just talking about political stability, political will, democracy, cheap labor, and the few scanty points we have. We need to really come up with specific programs, institions and policies among others in order to be a little bit confident in ourselves about being able to attract investors into our country from this perfectly compettitive market.

Countries like Thailand and South Easten Asian emerging economies are embarking on radical Tax Cuts for corporate entities as a means to just getting the investors into their country. Thailand today has redused by half the corporate tax rate of 30% to 15%. Against this kind of competition, how rational can we expect weekly foreign visits by our president to move investors into Ghana. The South East Asian hub has since sometime now been the largest attractor of American investors because they have worked systematically and consciously towards that goal. Today they have well trained youngmen and women who have been enbled to contineously explore and place themselves at meeting places of all prospective investors to reveal not only opportunities in their country but but specific favourable business conditions created to aid their business. Ironically, we rely on summits, conferences and presidensial visits to mar! ket our country to investors. I am afraid, most the campaigns at these places are just ceremonial and we need to watch it if we want to attract any serious investor. Else, I can guarantee that we are more likely to get pocket investors than real investors.

Consider the fact that 40% of world's population has never made phone calls before. That should immediately send shivers down your spines if you want to know about what the equivalent statistics for our country will be. I bet it will staggering to hear. Surely to talk of our telecommunication base, it is not encouraging. Come to think of the type and condition of our roads, it is a headache. The quality of the very youthful population we have in terms of education and training, should surely be marked as not purely on the average. You might want to cool the political tension in the country inspite of its nearly 21 years of stablity. These certainly are some of our dark spots likely to deter investors from coming over.

Consider for a moment the facts that 40years ago, only 30 countries were democratic, but about 119 countries makeing 62% of the world boast true democracy today. That 300million people were taken out of poverty during the last 20 years in India and China. That Korea which had the world highest illiteracy rate of about 30% forty years ago has virtually gotten that mantra eradicated. With this in mind there is no question about the fact that Ghana can also do it. We only need to stay focused, get all hands on deck and plan towards our goals as a country. May God help us.


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