Season’s Greetings Your Excellency,
It is most refreshing to have you in good health.
The “Year of Supersonic Speed” as labeled by President Akufo-Addo soon comes to an end, and although this annum has had its fair share of headlines, there is yet one more some of us would request of you.
Mr. Vice President, if this does reach you, please heed the voice of another citizen (and not mere spectator of happenings).
Are you a fan of movies Mr. Vice President? Do you have any time for TV with your dizzying schedules and mighty economic engagements? I suppose not. Perhaps the trendy 2nd Lady is best to address here given her awe for Bollywood (shared previously). Perhaps, despite a neat chunk of the National Budget dedicated to local movie infrastructure, your personal life and demands of zillion Ghanaians allow for little if no self-indulgence at all (understandably so).
Even before Khashoggi’s unfortunate murder, the world shared many mutual headlines on politics and transcending cultural significance this year. Among them was the release of the “Black Panther” movie. Don’t worry Your Excellency, I assure you; this write-up has no interests of quizzing your box-office knowledge. The year 2018 in retrospect is incomplete without this one though. You would be amazed at the number of mutual details the film shares with your current government’s visions (of a better Ghana). Yes it does. Amidst it’s highly fictitious background of an African setting rich in political sovereignty, envied technology and tapped sciences, Wakanda is a screaming depiction of the continent we all want tomorrow (…hinting in more ways than one the Nana Addo mantra of sustainable industrialization).
Unfortunately, reality that kicks us as we come out of the cinemas is not a kind one. Few systems are going paperless and even fewer successfully so. Our ways and means of living are still digitally growing at a minimal rate of comfort, that is, in relation to the fancy visions and expected standards we have pegged for ourselves. We have a dizzying range of Science Professors yet very few innovations of home-made applied sciences to show for it. Either we choose to admit or not Mr. Vice President, true sovereignty, global relevance and the ability to develop in the 21st Century are not mutually exclusive terms to Science and Technology.
The commitment of the Akufo-Addo-led administration to rapid industrialization is in the right place as expected of any serious developing country.
However, the steps taken at practical sciences and carving a niche in the competitive world of technology makes mockery of ambitions mentioned in the former. Technology in itself is a highly evolving medium Your Excellency, just like economic output, it takes visionary leadership, resilience and continued investment to reach desired conclusions. I write this, Mr. Vice President, because you are the decorated Guest of Honour at this Sunday’s 38th Annual Technology Exhibition Show of the Kristo Asafo Mission of Ghana.
I write this, because some of us Ghanaian youth have had it with the annual Speech-without-Prize performances of politicians carried out with marksmanship at this yearly occasion. If you are reading this Mr. Vice President, it is way past time for speeches, it is way past time for hours of oral confectionery summed up in two words—“Well Done”. After 38 years, Apostle Safo deserves more, much much more.
Right from the onset of Ghana’s Independence back in 1957, our first Head of State Osagyefo Dr. Kwame Nkrumah pursued Ghana’s most ambitious industrialization programme till date; over 300 set enterprises to operate in all sectors of National dispensation ranging from textile, petroleum, fisheries to agriculture.
It laid grounds and informal blueprints for this government’s One District, One Factory initiative. In December 2017, President Akufo-Addo spoke on Ghana’s glorious beginning commenting that he would not “repeat Nkrumah’s industralisation mistakes”.
His government would focus more on private-sector-led industrialization in contrast to Osagyefo’s state-owned module of industrialization.
This is not far-fetched from the NPP’s capitalist stance of operations. Let me add that this written work neither celebrates nor condemns such a stance. However, in the kindred spirit of democracy, it is about time that accountability as a virtue is pursued for its merits.
If the government’s strategy of economic prosperity is hinged on building an enabling environment for private businesses to thrive, this Sunday will be an amazing home-run for how exactly this has been achieved with Ghana’s KANTANKA Automobile industry.
Besides, 2018 has been the year of major investment decisions on the side of government. We know for a fact now that at least two foreign auto firms have been approved and welcomed by government to establish assembly plants in Ghana. We know that either directly or indirectly the state is in spending (relocation protocols involved) on a National Cathedral or fronting diaspora funding for it (if you prefer that euphemism) . What has prevented government from promoting KANTANKA Vehicles in country and galvanizing it to be at least a front runner on the continental scene? Would we have been as excited to have Volkswagen and others coming in if their national leaders had not sparked a conscious agenda first?
As the announcement itself came in August 2018, the news shots had two heads of state, our own President Nana Addo smiling in local African wear yet on the receiving end whiles a simple Chancellor Merkel looked to the cameras victorious. We aspire to be like the developed countries yet only emulate them in speech.
Barely three months after, the same Ghanaian Head of State was seen gushing at the Japanese PM saying he wants to emulate Japan’s example. The East Asian Tigers did not rise by accident, a fact which you surely know Mr. Vice President. Japan itself has one of the globes most prominent automotive industries.This came about through a conscious policy at orienting the vehicles for both domestic use and worldwide export in the 70s.
Thrillions of dollars have been spent by the US Government (Congress-Approved) on its flagship private-owned American vehicles such as Ford, Chrysler and General Motors. You would not pick a KANTANKA over a Mercedes Benz any day. That is because of the level of quality consciously invested by both policy-makers and automakers over the years. Would it have earned same world class status in our condition and policy environment of Ghana? Your answer lies in how KANTANKA Automobile has been treated over the years..
Had Apostle and his Kristo Asafo Mission not moved into production stage, the vehicles would have still remained as prototypes today because no government cares enough to either fund or tap the resources we have. We seem to prefer “cooked” industries from foreign zones to the prospects of making our own successstories. Mistaken entities request second chances Your Excellency. Apostle Safo has offered government thirty-seven so far. Even after setting up the assembly plant, the state is supposed to ensure its progress affords the company no tax waivers on accessories, parts and manufacturing. Thus, the common citizen in Ghana cannot still afford the vehicle that is proudly ours (or supposed to be so).
Forgive some of us then, Your Excellency, for being less whelmed when we hear your government’s evangelism of consuming what we produce. Your outfit seems to kill it before it is fit for the feed. Western-Owned Industralisation is in no way a Ghana Beyond Aid but a Ghana growing into it (covert aid). Come Sunday, Lip Service will not be enough on how exactly you can help with technological start-ups. Silicon Valley and many of the world’s leading tech giants did not begin that way. It took more. Let’s rise to the challenge.
Made-In-Ghana begins with Policied-in-Ghana. If Apostle Safo’s works do not reach desired specifications, do well to communicate this. It does much good than lengthy praises punctuated by inaction.
Allow me to remind you sadly that once upon a time, the former Vice President the Late Amissah Bekoe Arthur was in your shoes too and that he decidedly made his mark. Don’t be remembered as the leader who merely spoke when he could have done. If you ever wished for a Thomas Edison or Benjamin Franklin, you have one on your hands now. Future generations may thank or criticize us all based on how we react to this opportunity. Please choose carefully. Prometheus may bring fire from the gods but how well it is utilized and to what extent depends on the world.
I understand this path will be long and hurdled with challenges but the discerning people of this continent prefer realism of a long walk to freedom not long talk to it. This is no way a tarring agenda to your personality nor government, please understand, but after 61 years of statehood Your Excellency, something has got to give (beyond NPP and NDC stories).
I write as a citizen and believe as one that the right thing will be done….before it’s too late for us all.
—Piesie N. Safo