Promoting Small Medium Enterprises in Ghana: The Case of Afra Airlines Ltd

Sun, 10 Apr 2005 Source: Jeffrey, Peter Nee

The answer to the question that Charles Akigyina ask,? Is Ghana ever going to come out of Poverty ? Ghana Web 5th April 2005? is Yes, Ghana can and should come out of poverty by the year 2020?.How can this be done? Charles Akyigyina answered most of the questions that he posed by placing the emphasis on promotion of local goods and services. There are many Ghanaians and friends of Ghana who all hold the same views as many of us had argue that by actively encouraging and promoting made in Ghana goods and by helping our farmers to go commercial then can we afford to make the turn round that we all yearn.

In various articles that this writer has written on this subject, the emphasis has been always given to the encouragement of local produce goods. The government can put a high tariff on imported goods and use the resources that would be garnered from the tax into research and development. Akyigyina mentioned the role of our engineers and how they can contribute to the developmental process. In ?Four Polytechnics to Run Degree Programme? this writer touched on the role of our engineers in the developmental process. This writer argues that across the ?Magazines? (large metal works/engineering/fitting sites) doted in every major town in Ghana are people whose geniuses are quite phenomenal. These home grown engineers can virtually manufacture any machinery that one can find in the west. Most do not need patents to copy and majority can easily be replicated by these men and women whose skills can greatly benefit Ghana if only the government would be bold enough to hone their skills at our Polytechnics. The skills of this potential labour force are going waste because as Akigyina pointed out local businessmen do not have the incentives to go into local production due to cheap imported foreign goods. Ghana has got the businessmen, Both Ghanaians and non Ghanaians (those that I will classified as true friends of Ghana, not quite profit Indian/Lebanese men who takes their profits out of the country). Some of these men have put their faith in our economy and are willing to stake all to help our country. This writer highlighted one such investor as J Ralph Akin, Chief Executive Officer of Ghana Air International. Another is Luke Butler (pictured), Chief Executive of Afra Airlines Ltd.

Mr Butler and his Ghanaian born wife have made Ghana their home and have invested substantial amount in our economy to help with our industrialisation quest. They are first and foremost business people who know the work ethics of a successful enterprise and are willing to help trained people to make their dream come true, a dream that would benefit our beloved Ghana and should be supported. Like the tremendous complex negotiations that befell Mr Ralph Akin during his quest to save Ghana Airways, Mr and Mrs Butler are also facing the same hurdle.

This is what Akyigyina ask using the analogy of the farmers when stated, ?How can a country be rich when she keeps her farmers unemployed by developing the taste for exotic goods?? During the summer 2004 this writer chose Ghana Airways for his daughter and her friend to travel to Ghana and British Airways for his wife and two sons. The sharp contrast in services provided by the two airlines was marked. Yes, some might argue that British Airways is a major carrier and thus can not compare the two. But that is not the point. Businessmen like Mr Butler and Ralph Akin with long experience in the airline industry have proposed to match any major carrier with services that would make our nation proud. The dream of Dr Nkrumah and Dr Busia attracting very honest businessmen to come and operate in our country with full support can be seen in the genuine and sincere approach by these men. The essence is for the Ghanaian Government to recognise the importance of promoting home grown businesses that can bring into the country huge resources plus create employment for our people. Those countries that we want to emulate all promoted home grown companies into the MNCs that they are today.

In the airline industry the numbers of passengers carried by foreign airlines into Accra are huge. With the imminent commencement of business by Ghana Air we still need another home grown and well promoted carrier to compete. Ghanaians and West Africans in general are very patriotic people who would all patronise all the home grown airlines. Those who are familiar with the internet can look at the web site of Afra Airlines and the potential investment and commitment that the company has for Ghana. This writer is not here to promote any individual or company but to argue for support for our home grown SMCs. Despite the huge ideological differences between Dr Kwame Nkrumah and Dr Kofi Busia, their economic agenda for the motherland were the same. Those of us who were too young then but have had the opportunity to read about these two leaders have learnt the love that both have for the country.

Yes, Nkrumah chose the Import Substitution approach and Busia advocated for the Export Led approach (Hon J.H Mensah, Ghana?s foremost economist can shed light on Dr Busia?s policies) both have the same vision for the country. This writer is looking forward to the day that KOTOKA INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT will have two major carriers a their hub (Ghana Air International and Afra Airlines Ltd) flying airplanes every hour to destinations all across the globe. The two businessmen highlighted in this article, J Ralph Akin and Mr Luke Butler share the same dream for Ghana. These men are capable of carrying two thirds of all passengers and cargo coming to Accra. We should support their endeavours and encourage them to invest more in our country. The love they have shown for our country should be reciprocated by the sitting government.

Peter N Jeffrey London.

Views expressed by the author(s) do not necessarily reflect those of GhanaHomePage.

Columnist: Jeffrey, Peter Nee

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