Ghana Beyond Aid: SOEs must be driving forces – Gabby Otchere-Darko
Private Legal Practitioner, Gabby Otchere-Darko, has extolled government’s Ghana Beyond Aid agenda in a fiery speech at the launch of the States and Governance Authority (SIGA).
Speaking on the topic – “Ghana Beyond Aid; The role of State-Owned Enterprises, Joint Venture Companies and Other State Enterprises “— Mr Otchere-Darko said the Ghana Beyond Aid agenda was about inculcating positive consciousness in the Ghanaian, a mindset kind of revolution and assumption of personal responsibilities in the bigger job of transforming Ghana.
According to him, “If aid could develop Ghana we would not be here today exploring ways to break ourselves free.” That notwithstanding, “to break free, we need to be able to manage our economy and its resources well to raise the money needed to invest.
“But, to raise money domestically we need a financial system that is fit for purpose. To break free from the aid dependency syndrome, we need to be able to build industries right here in Ghana and add far greater value to our economy than we have so far done. To move Ghana beyond aid, we need to get our SOEs working as usual businesses and not as business as usual,” he stated.
Mr Otchere-Darko continued that aid is essentially about depending on donor support to fund a nation’s development and that apart from Rwanda, where 70% of government expenditure is donor-funded, and “I cannot think of another African country that has been able to develop meaningfully on aid.”
By 2030 Ghana is predicted to have a population of 36.8 million; that of West Africa is expected to grow to more than half a billion people (approximately 516.3 million) and the population of integrated Africa at approximately 1.68 billion.
“This is the prize: being a strong and versatile utility player on this rich continental field of vast opportunities and resources, where there is free movement of people, cultures, ideas, goods and services.
“Africa’s future is as the largest economic bloc in the world. How do we ensure that in ten years’ time Ghana will be more than ready to take full advantage of this new continental dawn of, truly, an Africa Striving Beyond Aid? What role can SIGA and our SOEs play in pushing our economy at the forefront of this exciting dawn? Nkrumah said, in the 20th century, “in the last century Europeans discovered Africa. In the next century, Africans must discover Africa.” That century is now,” Mr Otchere-Darko said.
He said the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) comprises a single-market trading bloc covering the entire African continent with a total population of 1.2 billion and a combined GDP of almost $3 trillion and that it should be for nothing that Ghana was the first country to go all out for a united Africa and in Kigali, Ghana, again was the first country to symbolically sign up for AfCFTA.
He said it is estimated that annual intra-African trade will increase by 52% to $35 billion in just three years from now. “It should be nothing that Ghana has been chosen as the secretariat for AfCFTA. This positions our country to become the new commercial capital of Africa, a financial services centre, a regional trade hub and a gateway to the African continent as well as an attractive destination for foreign direct investments. We should make it an important instrument for developing our economy beyond aid. We should prepare our minds and physical spaces for this new era,” he stated.
According to Mr Otchere-Darko, “The launch of SIGA, therefore, marks a watershed moment in our country, as we take steps towards realizing the President’s vision of moving Ghana Beyond Aid.” He charged SIGA to take a keen interest in ensuring that at all times material, SOEs, JVCs and OSEs have properly-constituted and functional Board of Directors to provide strategic directions, goals and focus for the entities.
“It must also take it upon itself to ensure that every SOE has a corporate governance policy. Unfortunately, not many SOEs have such a policy. To make this work, I will propose that SIGA sets up a Corporate Governance Committee, which would be tasked to ensure that every SOE has a corporate governance policy based on a code of practice, designed to establish a solid basis for good corporate governance, which is necessary to support the SOE from achieving its core objectives.
“Once implemented the Committee should ensure that the rules of corporate governance are obeyed. Proper management of these processes will enhance the quality of strategic leadership required to enable SOEs, JVCs and OSEs to operate at their optimum,” he said.
He further appealed that SIGA studies closely what is happening in France where proceeds from ongoing divestment of state asset are earmarked for innovative start-up companies, or Germany, where the performance of SOEs are assessed every two years to determine whether they should still remain or be privatised.
“SOEs do not have to be endangered species,” he stated
SIGA is designed to provide a far better ownership and governance framework for SOEs, JVCs, OSEs than previously existed. This is to increase shareholder value and better return on investment; provide better coordination among state entities (commercial and non-commercial) and other stakeholders, enhance the capacity of heads and employees to deliver on their core mandate in the changing environment and to give customer and consumer satisfaction.