Many times when I have some weird dreams, I normally take time and ponder over them for a long time. I usually ask myself why this dream at this time and what God wants me to do with this. Yes I do dream like many normal humans but some of the dreams get me worried and the dream for this other night, the night of October 19 2016 (coincidentally the night of US final presidential debate) was just one of such weird nightmares.
I had a dream about the Ghanaian Osu Castle last night and I have never seen the former seat of the Ghanaian Presidency such busy. I was invited to the castle to join some team of experts in some governmental works. On reaching the gates I joined a very long queue just to sign in before gaining entrance to the Castle and after about 30 minutes I was ushered into a cubicle by a security man to come and scribe my personal information.
There were about ten different books and I was asked my reason and handed an invitation to them. I was given the appropriate book and entered the yard of the castle. I saw a lot of people going and some coming. On entering the Castle, I realized that the place was very busy as if it was the Wall Street of New York City or London Bridge on a Monday Morning. The place was very busy with well-dressed persons looking very smart and serious to execute one duty or the other for mother Ghana. I climbed some few stairs and finally got into the office I was going, being led by my host from the gates.
At the office I asked the host whether the president has moved back to the castle to which he answered in the negative. So why these huge numbers of staffs flooding the castle? I probed. He gently said, “all those people you saw there are private consultants and private contractors like you, who are here to perform one duty or the other to change the country”. Wow! I retorted.
The next thing I saw was to find myself in a small conference room with some smartly dressed men and women. There were 3 ladies, one of whom I recognized, and 3 other guys. So in all we were 7 people in the room. The host passed some files to each of us and started reading from a sheet of paper our responsibilities.
He went like “you guys are one of the selected teams by the president and you are responsible for making changes in this country. You are expected to be working here, as citizens of Ghana, from now till final results are achieved.
Your responsibilities are as follows:
1. To come out with a very comprehensive strategy that would ensure that Ghanaian qualified and determined entrepreneurs, both young and old, become managers of about 80% of all natural resources of the country.
2. To come out with a comprehensive strategic plan that will ensure that no single natural resource extracted from the country’s land or sea is exported in its raw state without any transformation.
3. Finally you are to come out with a a comprehensive strategic plan that would ensure that in 5 years’ time, Ghana becomes the richest country in Africa”.
Finally he said “all necessary documents you need are in the file in front of you, good luck to you gentlemen and ladies” and just walked out of the room. When we opened the files in front of us we realized there were very few sheets of papers with lots of website addresses and instructions. I turned to the lady beside me and asked her, but the companies he was talking about, do they want them to be owned by private businesses or by the state? The lady turned and smiled at me and that was the final seen of my dream before I woke up.
I kept thinking about this dream for days and weeks, especially the possibilities of the task given to us and how possible and realistic are those responsibilities.
I was wondering that even if we can come out with those comprehensive plans and make them available to the president, what are the possibilities of them being implemented to the fullest in accordance with the plans?
Now, as usual I started thinking about this dream because though it is weird to me I kept thinking and as I think I realized this could be a realizable dream and not weird after all. First of all let me itemized the three responsibilities from our host:
1. Getting 80% of all companies in the extraction, mining, offshore and onshore drillings of oil and gas, and agriculture sectors to be controlled by Ghanaians. (How the heck are we going to do that?)
2. Processing all minerals extracted in the country’s land, all oil and gas extracted from the country and all agricultural products produced in the country transformed into some usable form before those which are supposed to be exported to foreign countries, leaving the shores of the Ghana.
3. Making Ghana the richest country in the whole of Africa. (Extremely ambitious? How could this be possible amidst the giants like Nigeria, South Africa and Egypt?)
For days and weeks, I kept asking myself whether this is a phantom dream or something we can seriously work out. How on earth could the country wake up one morning and expropriate the natural resources from the numerous foreign companies and still maintain its international relationship with the donor partners? One of our touted and enviable credentials of the country is our hospitality to the foreigners in this country.
We pride ourselves for being friendly to the people from other countries that come here and I am not sure if Ghanaians would be ready to derail our relationship with the outside world with such decision to be in charge of our own resources.
But another question that hits me was whether it is a crime for any country to decide being in control of her own resources? Remember the instructor didn’t tell us to find means by which Ghanaians will take over the ownership of those companies in charge of the extraction of the natural resources. So how can that be achieved? Could there be any available arrangement that would eventually make Ghanaians in control of the management of our natural resources such as negotiated buy-outs or compulsory buy outs? I am sure the answers are found in the necessary research we were supposed to do from those websites handed over to us by our host at the castle in my dream. Though I knew within my heart that it would be very difficult to achieve the 80% target in this direction, even a 50% achievement will make a huge significant impacts on the country’s development.
On the second issue of getting all natural resources and products processed here in Ghana before export, I fully believe that is completely achievable so wasn’t bothered to think about it for so much. The country has every capacity, both labour and technical, to process every mineral extracted, oil & gas and any agricultural product produced here in Ghana into usable products before any part is exported to the international markets.
The most important ingredient needed to achieve this target is the availability of power for the various manufacturing plants to use in these processes and fortunately we have several sources of power generating opportunities.
With the concerted efforts by various governments in increasing the generation stocks of power in the country over the past years and the plans moving forward, I just know from my heart that this is very achievable. We have various engineering companies with very intelligent young and old engineers who can build industrial machineries to propel this strategy to see the light of day.
This single target will be the source of creating numerous jobs that we all so much talk about without thinking of how that could be done. Jobs will have to be created across the country as it would be very important to locate the processing centers close to the production centers of the raw products, at least for the basic processes for even those who needed to be processed further with sophisticate technologies located in the cities.
In order to achieve this target, there would be the needs for the building of schools equipped with international standard facilities to enable the young Ghanaians to be trained with the required skills to manage these companies. There is also the need for highly qualified technical and professional skills to aggressively propel in the processes of these transformations.
The same target would necessitate the establishment of large and well equipped hospitals to take good care of our working human capitals. I am very sure the green light is now getting clear as we have enough money changing hands in the country for many days before getting out of the country. It is a proven fact, both financially and economically, that the more the national income levels have longer changing hands in your country before crossing the borders, the higher the value of your currency.
In order to easily transport the goods from the hinterlands (mining centers, farmhouses and offshore and onshore production centers) to the processing centers and also the carting of the processed and half-baked products to the cities and Supper-Markets, airports and the harbours, there is the need for a sophisticated transportation system made up of rails, roads and ports, thus harbours and airports. We will therefore need to build good roads and very high class rail line systems and a good airline hub system.
Obviously, this second target has the potentials of changing the country and place it on the path of achieving the next and final target, even if not completely.
On the third issue of making the country the richest in a span of five years period, I said God be my helper. But don’t forget that there are other six members of this team who will also have their areas of expertise for this debate. Am sure they have good ideas of how this could be achievable. One of the standards of measures of the richest country is by the GDP per capita income of that country. Currently Ghana does not even make it in the top 10 list of Africa. The richest country in terms of GDP per capita as at 2016 by Africaranking.com is the Seychelles with a GDP per capita income of US$25,229, next is Equatorial Guinea with a GDP per capita income of US$23,370, the third is Gabon with a GDP per capita income of US$20,612, the fourth one is Botswana with a GDP per capita income of US$17,101.
The rest are Mauritius on the fifth position with a GDP per capita income of US$16,100, next on the sixth position is South Africa with a GDP per capita income of US$11,914. The seventh position is captured by Libya with a GDP per capita of US$11,497, Tunisia is in the eighth position with a GDP per capita income of US$9,900 and Namibia and Algeria are in the ninth and tenth positions respectively with a respective per capita income of US$8,200 and US$7,500. Ghana’s GDP per capita, when adjusted by purchasing power parity (PPP), as at the end of 2015 was just US$3,953 which is nowhere near that of even the least 10th country of the continent.
Alternatively, one can also rank the richness of the country just by its GDP. In terms of GDP ranking, Nigeria would rank as the richest country with a GDP of US$594.26 billion and followed by South Africa with US$341.22 billion. Egypt, Algeria and Morocco follows in the third, fourth and fifth positions with GDP of US$284.86 billion; US$227.80 billion and US$112.55 billion respectively.
The highest GDP ever attained by Ghana is US$48.70 billion and that was in the year 2013. In the year 2015 the country’s GDP was US$37.86 billion with the GDP per capita income of US$1,696.08 in the same year. In order to be at par with the continent richest, we need to increase the country’s GDP by 1,466% over the said five year period to about US$595 billion. On a lighter effort to become part of the top five players minimum, we will have to increase the country’s GDP by about 221% to reach about US$122 billion. If, on the other hand, we want to use the GDP per capita measure as the determinant factor, then we have to grow our GDP per capita by 1,388% in order to compete with the first position holder and about 873% in order to compete among the top five countries.
From the above statistics, it is clear that the team has a very herculean task to do in order to achieve the stated objective of becoming the richest country of Africa in 5 years. May be we can have a target of being among the top five in the next ten years? Even with the ten years reviewed objectives, it will mean to at least triple the country’s GDP within a period of ten years and that could never suit any description than super ambitious.
However, it is very clear to me that if we are able to achieve just about 50% control as against the 80% of the first objective and fully achieve the second objectives by the end of the fifth year of implementation, there is no doubt in my mind that the reviewed target of the third objectives are definitely achievable. It would not be an easy thing for the country to join the top five richest countries in Africa but with a total commitment by every single Ghanaian seeing the importance of these goals from apolitical and unbiased view point, we surely shall be there.
So now the next question is how could these serious ambitions be implemented? Or we would just leave them on paper and after many years, we will continue to remain where we are? It must be noted that from my dream, I said we were told our team is just one of the lots. This implied to me that there are other teams who we will be working in collaboration with. I believe the other teams would comprise of various expertise from diverse fields like oil and gas, energy, agriculture, technical and mechanical engineering, chemical engineering, architectural, accounting and auditing, banking and investment, branding, marketing and advertisement, international relations, human capital development and relations and many other areas that will make these holistically achievable objectives.
These various teams of experts, I believed are drawn from all over the country, irrespective of class, tribe, race and political background, should be expected to work tirelessly, closely and uncompromisingly with the various MDAs, MMDCEs and all other governmental institutions to design the proper practicable strategies for implementation. The processes of implementation must be seen by all players as very important role of the individuals towards the building of a strong Ghana for our children and the next generations. I can now say that my dream is not just a nightmare of phantoms but a workable revelation for which Ghana can be proud of and we will continue to be remembered by generations yet unborn. It is a revelation from God to the managers of the country’s resources regarding how the values of our rich resources could be maximized to benefit every Ghanaian now and in the foreseeable future.
In all the above discussion, one thing is clear that these three developmental targets are very ambitious but one cannot say they are unachievable. What is important for these dreams to come through will be the national commitment by the over 27 million Ghanaians and the will power of the politicians and various leaders of governmental and non-governmental institutions and CSOs to see the country move to a significantly high levels. There must be a vigorous effort to create the awareness in the minds of every Ghanaian to buy into the development agenda through television and radio programs and presentations. I know as you read this one will be asking that how can these huge investments be financed? Never forget that apart from the ancillary projects that come in terms of social projects like schools, majority of the components involved are of high self-financing capacities. The projects would go through very serious feasibilities and comprehensive business plans prepared to source fund from the international financial markets and individual investors with government assistance. We can also partner with some of the international conglomerates in various sectors to join hands in developing the projects in a win-win situation, having in minds our first objective. It is obvious that these dreams are achievable for a fast growing country like Ghana with one consented vision of “ALL HANDS ON DECK”.
By George E. Ekeha
Tel: +223 (0)249 529 947