... On American Travel Channel!Folks,
Just a short opinion on the travel Channel short Movie featuring Ghana and starring President Kufuor last night (Nov.8, 2005) in the US.
1. The presentation was great and the editing very well done with the audio soundtrack nicely blended in There is no way we could have paid for a better advertisement than a whole 45-50 minutes on Travel Channel.
2. President Kufuor came out as an articulate and savvy politician. As I have observed before many who underestimate the man may not realize he is a smart man who speaks to a mature audience. His audience is different from the youthful audience who may want ?fire and brimstone?, as a lady writer once described it in West Africa for former President Rawlings. His sense of humor was also shown in some of the statements to Forrest Sawyer.
3. I noticed that the man is in good condition and has taken the stress on the job well. Playing soccer with the boys in the beach sand was a breadth of fresh air for some to remember.
4. It was noted by an observer in the medical field here if something was wrong with his eyes, and I guesstimated that maybe his left eye had a defect in it.
5. SERIOUS QUESTION: How do we turn Tourism into money for Ghana and for the local population to lift them up from poverty? A few suggestions: - All such nice public parks should have an entry fee if they don?t already have it.
- There should be an electronic counter to check for all entries to match the receipts [as a means to monitor and account for the moneys]. Other means can be used for such auditing.
- Part of the money should be kept under the control of the District government who can hire competent managers for the game reserves, public parks, slave castles, and maintain them in neat conditions [except perhaps parts of the castle where we may want to preserve them for historical reasons] all year round. This centralization of moneys must stop, since that is the mistake of old the current government is still following.
- Public bathrooms [toilets /lavatories / wash rooms] should be built and maintained in first class condition to upgrade our image as a civilized people and out of respect for our tourists? Use part of the same money for this and hold the locals responsible!
- MAPS should be generated and sold at the Airports and tourist areas and stores to enhance existing brochures. That can generate revenue also. Private entrepreneurs can do this but the government has to release the site plans for this to be done.
- SPACE should be leased to the private sector to develop tourist mementos, arts and crafts, and restaurants at all tourist sites as a way to generate more revenue. An architect can design this and sell easily to private bidders if the Minister takes the initiative to request it
- The PEOPLE in the area should benefit from the proceeds in terms of schools, clinics, all from moneys generated locally, and their lives should be improved by sharing the revenue as suggested. This should be an open book which other areas and districts which want to clean up their areas or develop tourism can see to emulate.
- A CUSTOMER SERVICE form or card should be given to all visitors departing Accra or our airports to give us a feedback on what they thought and the Minister should receive the summary from an appointed staff every month!
6. Perhaps the most important aspect of all these are the discussions that is ongoing about what the investors are saying and what the Financial Times reporter pointed out a few days ago. First impressions are everything in a person?s mind! We have created good impressions from the airport to the 5-Star hotels, and in fact some look very good [except the maintenance of the airport air conditioning and toilets are still not consistent and reliable and up to par]. Some of the high rises in Accra made me proud Accra is coming of age. However I was in Ghana for 3 months in 2004 and 6 weeks this year 2005. Behind the initial image will soon come the unstable and unreliable electricity, the low pressure in the water lines, the interruption of the water completely depending on where one lives, the stinky open sewage in residential and business areas - gutters that breed mosquitoes, the phone lines that are unreliable, and too expensive and many not even having line phones and broadband service for use to cope with the speed of technology and globalization. Sooner or later the rubber hits the road and an investor needs to come down from the 5-Star hotels and find a place to live or small shops to rent. What are we going to tell them if they go to Adenta, or even East Legon, Osu, Dzoworlu, and the water is cut off one day or two or three?
Another question: Why should all shopping centers be I one place in central Accra? What happened to the cite plans that had space allocated for commercial sites and offices? Is the Lands department of Ghana still working?
Mr. President we believe that you hit a home run as we say in America here for baseball, or shall we say you scored a Goal for soccer?. However we need to continue the game, catch up, compare notes with those like Singapore who have trodden this path before us, and win the game and the match and the series. According to the World Bank reports dated January 6, 2005, Ghana was granted $103 Million for water project. The World Bank (2005, Jan.6). Press Release No.274. Ghana: World Bank Turns US$103 Million Ghana Urban Water Credit to Grant. Retrieved August 5, 2005 from Website: http://web.worldbank.org/WBSITE/EXTERNAL/NEWS/0,,contentMDK:20312299~menuPK:34466~pagePK:34370~piPK:34424~theSitePK:4607,00.html
Again, we are reported to have received $350 Million for a Power initiative for West African: The World Bank (2005, June 30). World Bank Approves US$350 Million Financing Facility for West African Power Pool Initiative. Retrieved August 5, 2005 from Website: http://web.worldbank.org/WBSITE/EXTERNAL/NEWS/0,,contentMDK:20567489~menuPK:34466~pagePK:34370~piPK:34424~theSitePK:4607,00.html
Other reports show we have received over $1 Billion towards the Poverty Reduction Strategy. PLEASE let us use the money wisely. Let us account for the money! Openly! Democracy demands open system of accountability. Please let us set some clearly defined goals so that we all know how we are progressing and can even show this in concrete terms to investors.
Good job to President Kufuor on this Public Relations Coup! Good showmanship job! The best is yet to come!