Ghana, Africa without aid versus the reality

Akuffo Disgraces Macron Today, my President, Nana Akufo Addo is the hero of the African continent

Sat, 23 Dec 2017 Source: Isaac Kyei Andoh

Today, my President, Nana Akufo Addo is the hero of the African continent after his much publicized and lauded speech delivered during the visitation of the French President, Emmanuel Macron.

As one who has for a long-time held the view that Africa has enough by way of resources and capacity to be a global super power if we outgrow the dependency syndrome and unite towards making life better for the people, I was inspired by the speech of our President and the authority with which he spoke.

As a matter of fact, if any ‘imperialist’ needed to hear this speech, Nana couldn’t have chosen a better person than the President of France. France’s grip of their colonies on the continent is one major reason why ECO, the proposed, ongoing, never arriving single currency for the sub-region remains a mirage. France is a major reason why Africa cannot unite because it is still technically an extended colonial master of most of their colonies.

The truth though is, the West will not be deterred by such passionate speeches because they see such calls as the usual barking of African leaders aimed at getting cheers from the citizenry with little practical steps and political will to walk the talk.

The question we need to answer though is: s our problem the result of aid?

Just about three months ago, it was all over in the news that India government had gifted Ghana a million dollar to work on the Flagstaff House.

About two months prior to this: we signed an agreement with World Bank a 5.5 Million Dollars Grant for natural resources management.

Every month sees us benefit from the one form of Aid or the other. How bad have these supports been for Ghana?

Historically, Aid is the West’s conscious effort to lift the third world and develop Africa and Asia in particular because they believe that the poverty of the third world is partly the result of their exploitation and so as a way to bridge the gap in development and somehow pacify the underdeveloped: the concept of Aid was develop.

Years down the line, they have remained committed to this cause.

A white man brings many from his country, travels to a village in the Upper East Region to help the needy. A Ghanaian uses the name of the poor, goes for money from the white man, buys himself a car and organise conferences at 5 Star Hotels.

In the 21st Century, we can no longer blame the West and imperialism for our underdevelopment. When African leaders steal from their people and invest abroad, we cannot blame the Aid or the West for it. When government contracts are priced 5 times the cost of the regular market value: the West is not to blame.

Since independence, the worst thing that has happened to us is our own people. We see poor people enter politics, get rich within a twinkle of an eye.

Today at Shiashie, there’s a 7.4 Million Euro footbridge. When a supposedly poor country can budget Eighty Thousaud Cedis for a website and Ten Million Cedis for 20 official vehicles: aid or the West can never be blamed for our suffering.

How can Africa blame the West or Aid when a Nigerian Senator, after 10 years in office uses the back door to make more money than the average US President?

Ghana as a country should be thankful for the benevolence of our development partners and rather take advantage of the privileges we enjoy because their contribution to the development of this country has been immense.

The impact of Aid on Ghana is so glaring that there is no need to list the number of schools, the number of poverty alleviation initiatives and the general contribution of aid to Ghana’s development.

One of the major credit the erstwhile government under President Kufour takes is signing up for HIPC and the benefit that came with it: that is AID right there and there is nothing evil about it.

China didn’t shut the door to aid before developing, they didn’t have to win a verbal war to develop. They only ensured that every support accepted conformed to their Grand National agenda. Unfortunately, because we don’t have a national agenda and only work with political agenda, every grants, loan finds itself here.

Our problem beyond corruption are the bad loans and one sided trade agreement we sign as a nation.

Government goes for loan with interest to construct a road and the conditions includes engaging a contractor from that country, says yes to it, pop Champaign and celebrate it as an achievement.

What it means is that the contractor will repatriate part of the money which is his profit for doing the job into his country’s economy in spite of the fact that we will pay the loan and the interest in full. This is not Aid: it is a loan we agreed to and signed without a gun on our head.

This is why a Burkinabe contractor will beat our local Contractors to major contracts in Ghana. This is because the bigger jobs travel outside and they are left to feed on the carcass.

If we can’t get good loans, we should look for it within and develop at our own pace regardless of how slow we develop.

We want fair trade, we want loans without one sided conditions.

We are not poor because of aid: no single country developed without aid in this era, we are poor because our door is opened to everything foreign. From loan to goods and services, everything that is not Ghanaian is accepted.

Sadly, I have not seen any effort to shift from the old ways of doing things by this government in terms of our dealing with the west despite the constant assurance that we will be moving from the position of aid seekers to proper mutually beneficial partnerships.

We cannot keep signing one sided trading agreement that opens our borders to foreign goods and kill our local industries as a result.

We can equally achieve nothing with mere sloganeering without a proper laid out plan.

As long as we speak the same language of old and act the same way, great speeches will be delivered, people will celebrate our President and feel that the messiah has arrived but the end result will be the same: nothing.

Africa without aid should be a call to a change a in the mind-set of the African and not a verbal attack on the west. If you go to a friend cup in hand for milk, you don’t have the right to accuse him for giving you a substandard milk.

Ghana beyond aid should not be a call to close the door to aid but a call for us to change our ‘I need aid’ mentality. That is the problem and not aid.

We need to rediscover our sense of patriotism as a people, outgrow selfishness and eschew justification for wrongs when it comes in our political party colours.

Last year, The St. Joseph Orthopaedic Hospital at Koforidua was exposed for charging money from patients to do surgeries fully paid for by donor agencies. This is not the white man cheating blacks: this is the Ghanaian exploiting his fellow countryman.

The interesting aspect is, most of the people who do these horrible things get away with it. The Chief Executive who was paid 4000 Cedis monthly barbering allowance walks around a free man, the one who sanction the procurement at wheelbarrows at unit cost of 7000 Ghana Cedis walks a free man

Such wicked mentality and insensitivity of most Africans is the result of our poverty.

In view of this, the best statement we can make to prove that we have arrived at the 21st Century party is to change our attitude towards our own, believe in ourselves, get a development plan distinctively African or in our case Ghanaian and pursue it with our blood.

We can’t develop as long as our official wear remains suite and our Ghanaian wear casual meant for Fridays. We can’t develop as long as Ghanaian dishes are treated as the preserve of the poor and foreign foods a status symbol.

As long as we have the mentality of poor people, as long as with the least opportunity people want to make enough money for themselves with little care of the suffering majority, with or without aid, we will continue to be poor

Every country that made the journey from third world to develop over the past 50 years eat, drink and wear from within.

The importation of food into Ghana alone is enough to depreciate the cedi.

We can’t blame aid for our problems when on our own volition previous government projects are ignored midway through because the new government want exclusivity to the praise for the job done and so opts to starts afresh.

Our problem is never aid, on the contrary, we are where we are partly because of aid. Aid is the reason why some families in the north can wake up daily with the hope of 2 square meal, aid is the reason why some villages in Ghana have schools and hospitals. Malaria drugs are given to us through aid, we get anti-retroviral drugs for HIV through aid. Take away the DANIDA, USAID and many lives would have perished.

Our problem is and has always been poor management of what we receive, corruptions and greed.

We always compare ourselves to Singapore and Malaysia but the truth is that they didn’t develop by shutting the door to aid, they develop by changing their mentality and developed a scalable strategic development plan.

They didn’t have to threaten the west that they’d wean themselves off aid, they just had a plan and worked with countries willing to deal with them according to their terms and not sway them from their plans.

Do we have plan and the ability to say no to partnerships that will not help us achieve those plans?

First of all, as a country, we don’t have a plan, governance has been about getting the

praise of the citizenry and not a decision to do the right thing for long-term benefit even if it will render leadership unpopular temporarily.

The time though has come for us to move from the rhetoric to acting on what we say if we want to make strides and grow as a continent.

For a country with an average monthly revenue less than 4 Billion Cedis, we lose an estimated 12 Billion Ghana to corruption annually.

These are the things and not aid that has kept us poor as a people.

Mr President, daddy, if you make major strides in the fight against corruptions in and out of government, if the procurement law is enforced, we will develop as a country.

Enough has been said about the Ghana without aid agenda, your eloquence makes it easy for everyone to resonate with it. The time is ripe for us to have a plan that a class 5 kid can relate to, one that binds future government.

We have come a long way, we have made enough references to our natural resources, the world is aware of the fertility of our lands.

They also know that we import tomatoes and in danger off importing water in the near future

We need the right aid and the right attitude to aid alongside a plan to develop as a nation.

Have I said we shouldn’t seek to develop to the point where we don’t need aid? No. I am simply saying that apart from the fact that we are wrongly demonising aid, we are doing very little to be totally self-dependent. Ghana beyond aid should be a message to Ghanaians and not just to prove a point to the West with mere words.

If we can reduce the talk and work silently like the countries we compare ourselves to: we will make major strides.

Attacking the West with our vision though might come back to haunt us.

Columnist: Isaac Kyei Andoh