West African Renaissance ?
ECOWAS and Ghanaian citizens must thank Mr Ralph Atkin and his team of executives for saving the Ghanaian national airline. Yes the name may have changed from Ghana Airways to Ghana International Airline, and in any major business, investors/businessmen tend to seek returns for their initial investments first and foremost than mere national sentiments. However looking at the airline industry as a whole, the turbulence and the fold up of major airlines is now part and parcel of the whole restructuring of the industry. This process started well before the 9/11 tragedies. Thus saving a major regional airline from liquidation should help boost investment for the sub-region.
In the sub-region once major giants like Nigeria Airways and others have all gone under. All should appreciate for having men like Ralph Atkin who are still prepared to invest in an African carrier irrespective of the chaotic investment climate that prevail on the continent, thus keeping the Black Star afloat. West Africans are very patriotic and therefore despite the 2004 summer crisis, in which the daughter of this writer and her friend were caught up in and got stranded in Accra for almost a month, thus missing the beginning of the fall semester, citizens of ECOWAS would once again fly the Ghanaian national carrier (The only airline remaining in the sub-region).
It does make business since to disentangled politics and nostalgic feelings from running an airline business. Ghana ?Airways? International Airline is the only national airline remaining in the sub-region, however without the drastic measures taken by President Kufuor the national airline would have gone the same way as the rest. The demise of the national enterprises in the sub-region mirrors the chaotic state of the region as a whole where lawlessness and sheer brutality reigns. The events in neighbouring Togo and the Ivory Coast (where civil society has totally broken down) shows that whatever effort outsiders will make to turn our societies into fledging democracies will fail. The make up of the West African sub-region is such that any instability that occurs in one country affects all the other countries. Tribes and different ethnic groups overlaps, thus the whole region is like one big family. Migration within the sub-region started well before the arrival of the colonial powers and is still going on unabated. Yes there have been expulsions, but as always the prosperous attracts migrants from the poorer ones?????. Thus in the 1960s most migration were from the northern countries to southern countries of West Africa. In the 1980s when Nigeria came to the fore she attracted a whole generation of migrants from the rest of the sub-region. Now Ghana has once again become the destination of migrants due to her vibrant economy and respect of human rights. Crises have also contributed and fuel this migration. Investors and friends of Africa like Ralph, having faith, investing in an African airline means all is not lost. The only nagging issue that remains is lack of respect for rule of law and corruption on massive scale. The installation of Eyadema?s son to the Togolese presidency, the instability in Ivory Coast, where the country is basically been divided into two with bandits ruling one half of the country, makes mockery of our democracies in the sub-region. Without the help of the British in installing peace in Sierra Leone and forcing peace in Liberia, the whole region would have been in flames????? to a point that before the lawful democratic elections in Ghana and Nigeria some senseless people were advocating ?Liberia Way? if the elections did not go their way?. Thus it is incumbent on Presidents Obasanjo and Kufuor to ensure that peace reign in Togo and Ivory Coast so that the sub-region can continue to entice investors like Ralf Atkin to come and invest in the region. The integration of the economies of the sub-region is the only way that can help uplift our people from poverty. Free movement of people, goods and services should be implemented to the letter of the ECOWAS protocol. The total economic integration of ECOWAS and respect for rule of law are some of tenets of that would reassure friends of West Africa to continue to invest in our homeland. And in this respect the success of Ghana ?Airways? International Airline is paramount not only to Ghana but the whole sub-region.
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