Finally, the NPP's agenda is revealed: Industrialization

Sun, 12 Jun 2016 Source: Bokor, Michael J. K.

By Dr. Michael J.K. Bokor

Friday, June 10, 2016

Folks, we have already placed everything about the NPP in its proper context. What is left to do now is to turn attention to its agenda for national development, at least, as given us by its flagbearer and his running mate.

From them, we know that the two main props are industrialization and agriculture. And the objective? To create jobs and “stabilize” the country’s economy. We will say upfront that we dismiss these electioneering campaign props as uninspiring because they are tired. No serious-minded politician will go that way, given the country’s experiences and why it has been difficult to base national development on industrialization and agriculture.

We have heard too much about such props before and are wary of their being rehashed at this time of cataclysmic economic clashes worldwide as the abracadabra for Ghana’s economic challenges. As the NPP’s solution to what Akufo-Addo and Bawumia have led the gang to condemn President Mahama over, these props are worse than ridiculous. Ghana has already tried them and failed, which explains why they can’t win hearts for an Akufo-Addo victory at Election 2016.

Just a flashback here. The Great Nkrumah tried it when he embarked on his Africanization policy only to be destroyed by these very people in the United Party (our latter-day NPP) camp. Nkrumah identified favourable grounds and turned them into industrial hubs. Talk about Accra-Tema, Nsawam, Komenda, Asutsuare, and Takoradi in the south; Kibi, Kumasi, and others in the middle belt; and Pwalugu, etc. in the northern sector, where he established industries! What happened after his overthrow?

When Busia tried his Rural Development Programme, he was hailed, forgetting its root as an Nkrumahist baby that couldn’t mature. No wonder that their own Acheampong brushed them aside to introduce his “Operation-Feed-Yourself” that ended as soon as “Kalabule” led everyone on a garden path of buying-and selling to make quick money. That trend has persisted to date. There is a lot to consider, though, especiall9y when we weigh the contributions of private entrepreneurs such as B.K. Mensah’s International Tobacco and Kowus Motors, and many others. But what did Ghana gain, even if those enterprises ended up being confiscated by Rawlings for corrupt practices?

Rawlings’ emphasis on small-scale industrialization, empowering all manner of people with industry-based opportunities to function yielded limited results but collapsed when he left office. The Board of Small Scale Enterprises and all that INDUTECH represented at the time now belong to history. The fact is that the Ghanaian “industrialist” isn’t committed to industrialization as a means for national development. It will take more than the political rhetoric of Akufo-Addo and the NPP to turn the situation around.

All that has happened over the years leaves us with no pointer but the one that proves how lost such a cause is. When Nkrumah introduced agro-industry as the most potent force with which to confront the challenges of Ghana’s underdevelopment, his opponents were out on the roof, doing all they could to destroy him. Not only that. They viciously attacked his industrialization programme as well. If you don’t see it that way, look at all the factories that Nkrumah established but which ended up being destroyed by his enemies and taken over by those claiming to be his adherents (Here, consider the Nsawam Cannery that Nana Konadu Agyemang-Rawlings now owns even after the Agbodo-led Divestiture Implementation Committee had declared those State-Owned Enterprises as non-viable).

From Rawlings to Kufuor, all that represented industrialization in Ghana got destroyed, which weighed down heavily on the economy and rendered many unemployed. After all, our experiences under colonization had created the impression that we could be viable only if employed in the public sector by the very system that oversaw our formal education to veer away from fieldwork. Independence filled us with high hopes that fizzled out because the forces of retrogression won’t allow those in power to implement their ideas. To date, we haven’t demonstrated that we have the capacity for it all.

I deride Akufo-Addo and his emphasis on industrialization as a means to redeem Ghana’s economy. The dynamics of our world have changed and moved away from industrialization of the sort that he envisages as his party’s solution to Ghana’s under-development and unemployment. Even in the advanced world, the word “industrialization” remains accursed in this 21st century. The dynamics have changed, which explains why outsourcing is a huge attraction regardless of its drawbacks. Let Akufo-Addo and his team of liars do more homework to discover what will lead them in a different direction.

Tell me, somebody, what Ghana will industrialize in and for. Match factory? Car production? Where is the basis for it, except Apostle Kwadwo Sarfo’s bold attempt that itself is heavily dependent on imports? What exactly will Ghana industrialize (in) to gain any comparative advantage over other systems? And what will be the motivation for it?

Can Ghana be moved forward by other means as is happening in other countries? There is one simple area: tourism that can be promoted with all the resources available so the country can reap benefits without sacrificing so much as industrialization and all that gas will have us do only to end up regretting.

And why is industrialization the NPP’s focus, its having been missing in all that it has been parading as its agenda for Ghana’s development since its emergence to contest Election 1992, which it lost because it had nothing to attract voters to its cause as it still does under Akufo-Addo?

Under the NPP’s industrialization programme, who will establish and own the industries? Private individuals or the state? A long shot from reality. The era of state-owned enterprises ended long ago; and getting private individuals to establish industries will not be easily done because the factors aren’t favourable. What Akufo-Addo has told us is part of his day-dream. It is only an impulsive pronouncement for political capital. It is a pipe-dream to be feared.

Industrialization in Ghana is a doomed political message and effort. There is no foundation for it, even if the current administration has put in place measures to revive some industries such as the Komenda Sugar Factory. It is just one drop of salvation in an immense bold move in an ocean of helplessness. Of course, the Mahama-led administration has invested much in reviving some of the lost hopes in industry such as the Kumasi Fiber Industry (for the production of footwear) and others. But such industries can’t be said to be prime movers to get our economy where it can compete with others.

In any case, they are only aimed at meeting internal demands, that is, even if patronized. Pushing them beyond the national confines to earn foreign exchange for the country demands more than our existing economic reality suggests. I don’t think that the parameters will suddenly change to support the kind of grandiose agenda that the NPP’s political gimmicks are being used for. My pessimism, your apprehensions, folks.

Any political manouevre aimed at gaining from the message of industrialization is a lost cause. Today’s world is more dependent on the SERVICE sector than an industrialized one, which explains the shoddiness of the Akufo-Addo camp’s efforts at voter outreach in this guise. In any case, if industrialization were a panacea to Ghana’s problems, why didn’t Kufuor go that way?

The basis for massive industrialization in Ghana doesn’t exist. Why should anybody think of developing Ghana thereby, then? Duplicity at its best. Of course, there may be a faint hope that dead industries can be revived. But the cost of reviving them makes nonsense of even the thought of doing so. Can Akufo-Addo and his team of day-dreamers think more deeply to see what all of us have seen so far to conclude that industrialization isn’t a solution to Ghana’s problem of under-development to give the citizens the hope that they need to move on in life?

The overarching worry here is: If the NPP is so much interested in industrialization as a means of resuscitating Ghana’s economy and giving hope to the citizens that they have a huge stake in the development of the world, why are they so negative in their reaction the reactivation of the Komenda Sugar Factory, among others, by the Mahama-led administration? Why can’t they see this noble effort as a paradigm-shifting one to embrace? What has Komenda that others envisaged by the NPP don’t?

So much for this industrialization phantom, which clearly portrays the NPP and its Akufo-Addo as out-of-touch with modern trends. The history behind the failure of industrialization in Ghana is as old as Akufo-Addo is. No more attractive!!

I shall return…

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Columnist: Bokor, Michael J. K.