Business News of 2014-01-01

Comment: Embracing Apostle Safo’s crusade for self-reliance

Ghana is at present battling with graduate unemployment. And if graduates of our tertiary institutions cannot find jobs, then those who are unable to go beyond second cycle may be jobless for life or they have to find certain menial jobs to earn a living.

The crux of the matter is that our economy is not growing to absorb the teeming youth who are graduating from tertiary educational institutions every year.

The education landscape has expanded from the three public universities a few years ago to more than 10 now and about 50 private universities, 10 polytechnics, and a number of nursing training colleges and colleges of education.

The human resource base is expanding fast while the job market is shrinking due to the many operational challenges facing business and industry, so we need to step back in order to fashion new strategies to deal with the dwindling fortunes of the country.

The statistics as presented this year by the Minister of Finance, Mr Seth Terkper, does not depict a gloomy economic picture but an economy that is on the move. However, the reality on the ground is that living conditions are deteriorating and this demands that action be taken quickly to stem the tide.

Sometimes we pause and ask whether Ghanaians are pretending when they say that we are in difficult times. Traders and shoppers alike keep saying that times are rough, yet during this festive season, Accra and other marketing centres have been under siege by Christmas shoppers. Are they window-shopping?

Maybe that is not the case but at Xmas parents must try to provide food and clothing for their children to enjoy the celebrations.

We ought to know by now that our economy will continue to be weak, if we rely on foreigners for our needs, including very common items such as toothpicks , matches, peanuts, fruits, vegetables and some food crops.

The Daily Graphic thinks that Ghana has the capacity to feed its people and export the surplus for foreign exchange. We have done it before and that was the period of the glorious Operation Feed Yourself (OFY) programme during the Acheampong regime when Ghana was able to export maize and rice.

Ghana used to boast a number of industrial plants in Accra and the regional capitals that produced for the local market and export. The North Industrial Area at Kaneshie in Accra used to be the hub of industrial activities in the country but today, the facilities serve as worship centres and warehouses for imported items such as rice and sugar.

These factories provided employment for many skilled and unskilled workers, to the extent that these employees could provide basic amenities for themselves, their families and relatives. And at Xmas, these workers were the toast of their families. The boom in local industrial plants helped to boost the local economy.

One person who has been advocating the need for Ghanaians to partronise locally produced goods is Apostle Dr Kwadwo Safo, founder and leader of the Kristo Asafo Mission of Ghana (KOSA).

Speaking at this year’s technology exhibition day on the theme: “Religion, Science and Technology Tools for Economic Transformation,” he called on Africans to embrace locally manufactured products.

It is unfortunate that this crusade to get our people to “grow what we eat and eat what we grow” appears to have fallen on deaf ears. We do not seem to care that our taste for foreign goods only stimulates the economy of others and creates stagnation in our own backyards, resulting in graduate unemployment and economic hardship.

On the eve of the New Year 2014, the Daily Graphic appeals to the government to take a bold step by providing the enabling environment for local businesses to thrive so that they can create wealth and jobs for the people.

The government should introduce initiatives that would promote entrepreneurs and businesses by guaranteeing credit for hard-working Ghanaians to contribute more positively towards our economic emancipation.

The Daily Graphic commends Apostle Safo for his commitment to the use of science and technology as a catalyst for national development.

By: Enoch Frimpong