After six decades of political ‘Uhuru’, Ghana is still operating the unproductive economic structure, which has been accepted by experts in developmental economics as the Guggisberg Economy. This form of economic structure is mainly driven by raw materials exportation, and largely flooded with imported goods, which with seriousness and will power could be produced local. This economic architecture has come with considerable costs, such as huge unemployment, depreciation of the cedi, influx of fake goods, and aid dependency.
The exportation of raw materials without any value addition has been a bane to our economy. For instance, it is reported by many researchers that, the nearest cocoa tree to Switzerland, can be found in Ghana. However, Swiss chocolate industry is reported to have 4,500 employees, with an annual turnover of 1.8 billion Swiss francs – but it only accounts for 1% of the world’s cocoa harvest. Ghana (59%) and Ecuador (24%) are the two main suppliers of cocoa beans to Switzerland (dicconbewes.com-2018.03.31). The Swiss chocolate industry swallows the entire cocoa industry in Ghana, painful to add that, Ghana, through COCOBOD, always borrows millions of dollars to fund every cocoa season.
Ironically, countries like Germany and Belgium have chocolate museums, the Imhoff-Schokoladenmuseum (Cologne Chocolate Museum), located in Köln, right on the Rhine River, and the Choco-Story Chocolate Museum, located in Bruges, Belgium, respectively. These museums fetch millions in revenues to the economies of these countries. What is stopping the second largest cocoa producing country in the world from establishing a similar facility, in fact, the largest in the world?
I won’t talk much about Gold, because the state of Obuasi, Tarkwa, Bibiani, Bogoso, Iduapriem and Prestea, over the years of been the gold cash cows in Ghana, should tell us that it is not yet uhuru! When will the people of these towns realize their blessings? What is the state of their roads, water, schools, hospitals etc.? Is it uhuru for them? I suggest a serious national dialogue on how our resources must be managed. A simple comparison of Johannesburg with Obuasi, Prestea or Tarkwa, will inform our direction.
Is Ghana a shadow ‘resource curse’ economy? I don’t want to believe so. Until we move from raw materials exportation to the exportation of value added goods or products, our economic uhuru will never be attained. In fact, the propensity for a snow fall in Ghana, will be higher than attaining economic uhuru.
It is difficult to believe that we have been blessed with large oil deposits. How much revenue is realized by the Ghanaian people? Are we the real owners? Or the expatriates? Does the Tema Oil Refinery (TOR) have the capacity to refine all our crude oil? Do we have engineering schools graduating engineers, every year, but we can’t drill and harvest our crude oil? What is the missing link? We must find out, and solve the problems. If not, it will never be uhuru.
Who should champion this course? Leadership and the people can do this. The people must hold leadership to account. We the people must come to a realization that it is time for us to initiate the country into economic uhuru!
I sincerely believe that we shall not join the paradox of plenty (resource curse) queue, that is if we are not part already, because a generation is rising. I have a dream that that generation will offer good leadership. But when it will happen, I can’t tell. It’s good to dream.
HARUNA GADO YAKUBU, a Research Fellow at CEBSAR-Africa