Opinions Thu, 24 Aug 2017

We salute Dr. Anthony Kusi Boafo and all those in Ghana who are like him

I watched Dr. Thomas Kusi Boafo - the Public Sector Reforms CEO - being interviewed on UTV not too long ago. It was a pleasant surprise for me and gave me hope.

I was completely bowled over by his wisdom and the common touch he showed. He is truly a man of the people.

He came across as a deep-thinking politican who is principled, disciplined and - that rare thing amongst Ghana's ruling elites - an honest gentleman: who actually cares about the welfare of both present and future generations of our people. Marvelous.

He is definitely a safe pair of hands - and ordinary Ghanaians ought to count ourselves lucky to have a man of his calibre at the presidency. Thank goodness for small mercies. Hmm, Oman Ghana - eyeasem o.

The question is: How can a politician like that be convinced to step out of the shadow of conventional economic thinking - so that ordinary people's lives can be improved in sustainable fashion: through the use of creative policy ideas?

For the sake of our homeland Ghana and its long-suffering people, this blog will dare to be presumptuous for once - and venture to make a recommendation to Dr. Thomas Kusi Boafo.

For his information, he will unquestionably be even more effective in his role were he to read as many of the online publications of New Zealand's and the UK's Positive Money movements. Ditto those of the International Movement for Monetary Reform (IMMR).

He will find the keys that will enable the regime of which he is such a prominent member to unlock the full potential of this nation - and transform its hardworking and aspirational people's lives in dramatic fashion.

Furthermore, he must endeavour to have a conversation with the Indian conglomerate Tata's subsidiary, Jusco, so that they can transfer to Ghana's Council for Scientific and Industrial Research's (CSIR) Building and Road Research Institute (BRRI), the very simple technology of mixing melted plastic waste with bitumen, to build plastic roads in Ghana.

Plastic roads last three times the lifespan of conventional roads, remain pothole-free during that entire period, bear heavier loads, and, best of all (especially at a time of extreme weather resuting from global climate change), are never washed away by flash floods because plastic is impermeable to water.

Building plastic roads in Ghana does amount to climate-change-proofing all the new bitumen roads we will be building across Ghana, going foward into the future. That is uilding disaster resilience into our system through lateral thinking, is it not, one wonders?

And since the free high school initiative is being funded entirely from Ghana's oil revenues, the vertical integration of the Ghana National Petroleum Corporation (GNPC) is crucial - if we are to have a sustainable long-term funding source.

The key to that is to merge the Tema Oil Refinery (TOR), the Bulk Oil Storage and Transportation Company Limited (BOST) and the partially state-owned downstream oil marketing company, Ghana Oil Company Limited (GOIL). Naturally, government will have to buy back private shareholders' stakes in GOIL at a premium.

At this stage it is worth noting that not a single oil major that is vertically integrated has failed to pay dividends to shareholders since oil prices went south from the high of U.S.$140. That is instructive. Vertical integration of national oil companies is the best hedge there is against low oil prices for new oil producing emerging nations such as ours.

As a result of the tremendous goodwill across Africa that Ghana has (a legacy of Nkrumah's leadership), GOIL-branded petrol filling stations across the continent will be well-patronised and profitable. To ensure that corporate good governance principles underpin the entirety of its operations, the CEO of the vertically integrated GNPC must be selected from world-class and experienced applicants seeking that position - after the job is advertised globally.

Again, for the information of Dr. Thomas Kusi Boafo, Thailand made U.S.$72 billion from the 31 million visitors it hosted in 2016. There really is no reason why Ghana too should not earn significant amounts of foreign currency from tourism. And it can do so by becoming a major outbound tourism market for citizens of China and other Asian nations.

The question is: By preserving what is left of our nation's natural heritage - by halting illegal gold mining, illegal logging and illegal sand-winning - will we not be able to anchor a revitalised tourism industry on it and create wealth that stays in Ghana as well as jobs and micro-entrepreneurial opportunities galore across our homeland Ghana for our bright and talented younger generations?

And if we ban the export of unrefined gold from Ghana and empower the Precious Minerals Marketing Company Limited (PMMC) to produce credit-card-sized gold bars, gold coins with Adinkra symbols etched on them and traditional-style gold jewelry, could we not turn Ghana into a global centre for the purchase of same by tens of millions from China and the rest of Asia (ditto other parts of the world) and become a preferred destination and major outbound tourism market for Chinese and the nationals of the other Asian countries, I ask?

Is that not a more creative proposal (leading to a new economic paradigm in our relationship with China) that Vice President Dr. Bawumia ought to have taken along with him to China when he did - than that outrageous and abominable open invitation to environmentally irresponsible and destructive Chinese mining companies with terrible environmental records around the African continent to come and mine bauxite here? Ebeeii.

With respect, what is creatve about that foolish and unpardonable shortsightedness dressed up as a "new model" - especially when we are actually committed to the SDGs underscoring all our economic development and nation-building efforts, I ask? Haaba.

Dr. Thomas Kusi Boafo should encourage his colleagues running the country to commit to low-carbon sustainabiliy initiatives - as that will enable us to develop our nation without causing great harm to the natural environment.

It is madness giving Chinese mining companies carte blanche to come and mine bauxite here in exchange for a paltry U.S.$20 billion - foreign currency that a revitalised tourism sector can easily earn for Ghana without causing any harm to Mother Nature.

Finally, we salute Dr. Anthony Kusi Boateng - and all those in Ghana who are like him. Kudos to all of them for actually caring about our nation's future.

Columnist: Kofi Thompson