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Opinions Sun, 15 Jan 2017

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A corporate strategy perspective to the President’s ministerial appointments

I have been listening to the commentary in the media about the President’s ministerial nominees with keen interest and I have decided to explain these appointments from a corporate strategy perspective.

In developing a corporate strategy, the key factor that shapes the strategy is the vision of the organisation. This vision is then broken into specific measurable goals and then strategies are developed to help the organisation achieve these goals. The type of strategies developed then shape the sets of activities that are required to execute the strategy and achieve the corporate goals in line with the corporate vision.

For example, if a company’s vision is to be an international player, the company will set goals that hinge on when, where and key targets after all the macro and micro environmental analysis have been conducted. The strategic options will hover around how the company intends to go international, what products/services to deploy and whether to use standardization (same products across markets) or adaptation (modify products for specific international markets). All of these strategic decisions will be shaped by the environmental analysis as explained.

Another strategic issue to consider will be the mode of entry; whether to enter the new international market through a greenfield approach (set up from scratch), acquisition (buy an established local company), export through a local agent, export through the company’s own agency and many other strategic factors. All of these factors will be determined by the objectives, speed of entry required, degree of control, financial resources, size of the company, international marketing experience, psychological and physical proximity of the new market, type of opportunity (sizzling or latent) and many more. For example, if a company wants to take advantage of a sizzling but fleeting opportunity it’s most likely to adopt the fastest entry mode which also gives it the quickest and easiest exit route after the opportunity has faded out.

In corporate strategy, the organisational structure is also driven by the vision, goals and strategy. If an organisation considers a particular market area as critical, they divide the market into key strategic segments and employ human resources to pay critical attention to these market segments.

The Akufo-Addo-led government won the mandate of tGhanaians on the back of various promises as captured in their manifesto and so well articulated by President Akufo-Addo and other senior members of his party.There is, therefore, that expectation to deliver with speed and precision by a the populace.

The NPP’s vision is the “development of an optimistic, self-confident and prosperous nation through the creative exploitation of Ghana’s human and natural resources, operating within a democratic, open and fair society in which mutual trust and economic opportunities exist for all”.

The key economic goal is to build the most business-friendly and people-friendly economy in Africa, which will create jobs and prosperity for all Ghanaians.

A few of the notable campaign highlights included the following:

• one district, one factory

• One village, one dam

• Creation of new Regions to ensure equitable distribution of resources and development

• Ensuring the election of DCE’s

• Development of a Zongo Development Fund to pay critical attention to the needs of the Zongo Community

• Abolish “nuisance taxes”

• Tackle corruption head on

How do these Ministerial appointments feed into this vision and goals?

For the purpose of this article, I will focus on only the seemingly contentious ministerial nominees.

Minister for Railways: As a young boy in the early 90s, I remember travelling from Takoradi to Awaso with my mum in a comfortable train called the “Sleeper”; where you could practically have a cabin to lf. If you wanted to sleep, all you had to do was pull a bed above the seat and sleep. Over the years, the Railway system has totally collapsed and transportation of goods and raw materials from strategic areas have to be done by road with its attendant negative effects.

The quantum of work required to set a fully functional Railway system within the confines of time has been grossly underrated by commentators. Railway is highly strategic with massive economic implications and as such it requires critical attention at the highest level of government and it should not be subsumed under the Transportation Ministry especially at this phase of our national development when it is practically non-existent. For Ghana to accelerate its pace of growth and have a fully functional and world class Railway system, such critical attention is fundamental. This cannot be “job for the boys”!!!

Minister for Regional Re-organization: the creation of a new Region is an extremely laborious process with all the legal processes, detailed stakeholder consultation and commitment required. This therefore requires the needed attention at the highest level to ensure the management of stakeholder expectations. The creation in itself can be counter-productive due to the wrangling that can occur as a result of boundaries and choice of the respective capitals. This very tedious activity therefore deserves to be driven with tenacity and a specialist focus since it’s also an integral development issue.

Minister for Zongos and Inner City Development: This role is also another seemingly contentious one but in my opinion, it is as important as that of Gender, Children and Social Protection. It’s no secret that the Zongos are very disadvantaged with peculiar needs and this is an indication that the government attaches critical attention to the enhancement of the Zongo community to ensure some level of equity in national development as captured in the vision of creating prosperity for all.

Minister for Business Development: The most important focus of the government’s vision is the creation of jobs. One of the key approaches is the development of one factory in every district using the private sector as an enabler. The role of Trade & Industry is to be the “lead policy advisor to government on trader, industrial and private sector development with the formulation and implementation of policies for the growth and development of domestic and international trade and industry”. The Ministry thus oversees a large ambit of key stakeholder groups aimed at facilitating both local and international trade. However, the Business Development role is a specialist function aimed at ensuring the fluid development of businesses and will therefore be a key facilitator in ensuring the actualization of the government’s job agenda through business development.

Minister for Evaluation & Monitoring: For me, this is one of the most critical portfolios created. One of our bane as a country is our inability to critically monitor and evaluate key deliverables. This specialist role will ensure the effective execution of key deliverables as captured in the manifesto. By this singular appointment, the President has indicated his intention to “personally” monitor and track the key manifesto promises. Governments are quick to forget their social contract and enter into a comfort zone but these evaluation officers at the ministries can only monitor and track projects at a tactical level because do not have the needed authority to exert influence at the highest level.

This role is therefore aimed at the effective integration of all key issues, monitoring them and ensuring the relentless pursuit of strategic national initiatives critical to the achievement of the vision.

Before I end, let me use a simple issue to illustrate the concept of value. If an advert in medium X costs Ghc100,000 but it reaches 1,000,000 of your target audience but an advert in medium Y costs Ghc10,000 but it reaches only 5,000 of your target audience, which medium delivers more value?

As President Kuffour rightly said: "We should not be a nation that knows the cost of everything but the value of nothing. Therefore the overarching argument should focus on value as opposed to cost and it must also be within the framework of the vision, strategic objectives, key deliverables/manifesto highlights, stage of economic development, time constraints and expected outcomes. Some of the arguments so far have been overly simplistic and pedestrian without recourse to these key issues.

The government cannot achieve superior results by doing business as usual.

What is required is a focused but radical approach to tackle fundamental issues within the confines of time with speed and precision by isolating critical issues that are central to the achievement of the vision. This is what the President seeks to do as per the social contract that has been signed with the citizens.

Time for everyone to rally behind the government and push them towards the vision of creating a prosperous and equitable nation for all Ghanaians.

Nana Yaw Kesse writes on Marketing & Corporate Strategy using illustrations from Ghana’s corporate and socio-political environment.

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Website: nanayawkesse.com

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Columnist: Nana Yaw Kesse

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