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Opinions of Tuesday, 6 May 2014

Columnist: Kuunifaa, Cletus D

What Mr P.V. Obeng said, resonates with change!

Mr. Paul Victor Obeng, Chairman of the National Planning Commission, has stated that Ghana is experiencing crisis of transition from a lower-income country to a middle-income status and indicated that as a result of this, certain grants and financial privileges accorded the country would not be forthcoming (see Business News of Tuesday, 29 April 2014). He made these remarks at a symposium organized by the Tema District Council of Labour of Trades Union Congress (TUC) recently on the theme: ‘Ghana’s Economy: Concern for all,’ and called for support and patience as government engaged Ghanaians to manage the transition which he said had raised hopes and expectations (http://www.ghanaweb.com/GhanaHomePage/NewsArchive/artikel.php?ID=307683).

In the context of his remarks, consider that Ghana were human and at 57 years old: would have reached a turning point in life, and at such a milestone, would begin to take stock of life. How have the vicissitudes of life treated Ghana? How have these vicissitudes endured over the past years informed the call for change and improvement? Normally, one will conduct an introspection of one’s past timeline achievements or lack thereof and activities to recalibrate for the journey of life ahead. Most humans at this age would have been working hard and preparing toward retirement. What is it that one has put in place in time of old age and retirement? How are one’s children doing?

As this picture hits home, we, children of this great nation will play out this scenario in a single question: How can each and every one of us pitch in to help father or mother Ghana succeed at this age? Fortunately, the children of Ghana are well endowed with the competencies and qualifications to help Ghana out of the doldrums at this point in time.

Let’s take the Singapore experience and put Ghana into perspective. Not that Singapore is blessed with natural resources, nor is it that Singapore has a huge landmass. Ghana is larger, richer and older than Singapore in terms of land mass, natural resources and political independence. What both countries however share in common is their colonization by Britain at one time in their history. So, what accounts for Singapore breakthrough?

The answer lies in a leader with a vision who introduced change. This leader was Lee Kuan Yew often recognized and credited as the founding father of modern Singapore. Like many countries, Singapore had her own measure of socio-politico-economic problems at the time but with poise and focus coupled with good policies initiated and taken by the then first Prime Minister, Lee Kuan Yew, they were able to pull through the trail of poverty to prosperity.

This comparison is relevant for Ghana and must urge President JD Mahama to remain focused and resolute. The President’s vision must usher Ghana into the middle income level country which we, the children of Ghana long for. In the case of Singapore, change was the answer they embraced to transition from a lower-income country to a middle-income status and have now become a force to reckon with in terms of technology. At this point in their history, Singapore is simply just putting Knowledge Management into practical application thanks to the effective utilization of ICT that they embarked upon.

So folks, let’s roll our sleeves and dig in, get to work! The President has served notice he is willing to work with ideas irrespective of which political ideology they emanate from. Let us support him. Change does not come about that easy and it is absolutely imperative in our situation now. As a onetime US President John F. Kennedy said “Change is the law of life and those who look only to the past or present are certain to miss the future” (Address by JFK, June 26, 1963).
Intoning from this, what change is Ghana experiencing now, when Malaysia learnt oil palm growth and production in Ghana in the seventies and now even using it ( not for food) but as fuel for vehicles to advance their economy? And how fast is Botswana moving in terms of a knowledge based economy that Ghana cannot even catch up with? What about the booming economy of the Equatorial Guinea to the amazement of everyone?

What Ghana needs now as a matter of urgency is to usher in a new style of management in the public sector to drive the needed change. It is clear that the status quo needs improvement. There is the need to reform the current old and obsolete work ethics within the Ghanaian public and private institutions, by way of training and capacity building, using creative and innovative developmental concepts that have been tried and tested in many countries and corporations globally.

I say this because a positive transformation of the work ethics and unnecessary bureaucracies will improve efficiency of service delivery and increase productivity. That is why I find very interesting and being hopeful about the draft new economic model, touted by Mr. P.V. Obeng which will seek to break the vicious economic cycle which Ghana has endured over the years. According to him, the new economic model is the product of our experience, vision, desires and aspiration as a people who want to reconstruct the very foundation of our economy.
We are charting a new economic planning path where the activist role of the State would be paramount” (http://www.ghanaweb.com/GhanaHomePage/NewsArchive/artikel.php?ID=307683
He said all manner of persons would be invited to scrutinize the model to make it more transformational, diversified and devoid of the inequality factor.

Let us deliberate this economic model with the notion of change as a point of departure. Let us engage in debate and discourse to determine what idea is most convincing and work at it and as he puts it succinctly, that the final product would have been a multi-party political dividend.


Cletus D Kuunifaa
Transformation Management Consultancy (TMC) Group
Can be contacted at dipnibe@yahoo.com or Follow him on twitter @ckuunifaa