"Finally We Have A Consensus On Free SHS" – Nana Akufo-Addo

Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, the 2012 Presidential candidate of the main opposition party the NPP has taken a swipe at the NDC and President John Dramani Mahama when he responded to a question on whether we can have a consensus as a country on a national development planning agenda.

At a symposium organised by the Royal African Society and the Centre of African Studies in London, Nana Akufo-Addo who was speaking on the theme ‘Ghana, 57 years after 1957: Recalibrating the Course of Progress‘ he said “at last we have a consensus on the free SHS policy.” Nana Addo was commenting on the dramatic U-turn made by the government in accepting that Free SHS was feasible and would roll it in to action in 2015.

Nana Akufo Addo in his speech traced Ghana’s chequered history from the formation of UGCC in 1947 which set the course and the road map for Ghana’s independence. He reiterated the efforts that have been made to develop Ghana and how those efforts have been rolled back by successive governments through bad leadership and wrong policies. He laid the blame squarely on the door of political leadership creating an environment for large numbers of youth unemployment in the country and tied that blame to “a failed educational system that does not provide them with the requisite skills and a structurally rigid economy that simply cannot generate the large pool of good jobs with good pay.”

He stressed on the need to redefine the structure of our economy by transforming it by widening the manufacturing base, adding value to our products rather than exporting them in the raw form. He said “Ghana deserves a leadership that thinks of the next generation and not the next election.”

In a comment to the high powered government delegation of ministers who came to London for the event, including the Finance Minister Mr. Seth Tekper, Nana Addo likened the free fall of Ghana’s cedi to the declining fortunes of David Moyes and Manchester United.

The seminar which was very well patronised by both Ghanaians and non-Ghanaians in London had as the main speakers Hon. Hanna Tetteh, Ghanaian Minister for Foreign Affairs; Nana Akufo Addo, 2012 Presidential Candidate, New Patriotic Party; Dr Michael Amoah, Research Associate, Centre of African Studies and Ms Manji Cheto, Analyst / Vice President, Teneo Intelligence Holdings.

In response to Nana Akufo-Addo’s challenge to the government to do more to let Ghanaians know that public leadership is a vehicle for the pursuit of the common good and not for self-enrichment, Hon Hannah Tetteh blamed the economic difficulties the government was facing to the high cost of public sector salary payments. She blamed the Single Spine Salary Structure, which according to her was wrongly calculated by the Advisory Board.

She also reiterated that the expectations of Ghanaians on the oil revenue were not realistic as Ghana produces a tiny amount of oil compared to Nigeria, Angola and Equatorial Guinea. She also blamed Ghana’s reliance on the West African Gas Pipeline for the fluctuating power supply in Ghana but was very hopeful of the Bui Dam’s ability to improve on the Ghana’s energy supply.

Dr. Michael Amoah, a Research Associate at The Centre of African Studies, who set the tone for the evening’s seminar, made a strong case against governments who have succeeded in destroying the manufacturing and economic base of Ghana’s development. He opined that the decision by governments to sell off the industries that were created at the inception of Ghana’s economy has been the cause of the economic downturn that the country is facing.

Painting a very gloomy picture of how Ghana is lagging behind in the industrial revolution in Africa he quoted that “of the first 500 businesses in Africa, the only businesses in Ghana that appear are VRA, PBC (Produce Buying Company) and SSNIT.”

Ms Manji Cheto, an expert in Global Politics and an experienced risk analyst on Africa who is currently the Vice President of Teneo Intelligence, a London-based risk and communications consultancy advising international companies on ways to manage their operations in Africa, playing an expert and objective role on the night advised the NDC government to pursue efficient management of its resources and projects in order to restore confidence in the troubled economy.

Painting an economic picture which, according to her would be a concern for any investor wanting to invest in Ghana, Ms Cheto referred to the economic indicators on Ghana and asserted that they were all pointing the wrong directions. With rising inflation, growing deficit and a rising national debt coupled with falling currency, she said it would be very difficult for any investor looking to invest in Ghana.

Ms Cheto, whose expertise is primarily focused on the political economy of West Africa countries, in particular Nigeria and Ghana and whose responsibilities include monitoring political and economic developments in Key West African markets and reporting to both colleagues and company clients, referred copiously to the 2013-14 budget statement by the Finance Minister and asked serious questions about the deficit financing as well as the dangers of not meeting economic growth and targets.

She also questioned the recent decision by the government to accept and introduce free SHS in the recent State of the Nation address. Quoting from the President’s own economic analysis in the address, Ms Cheto questioned where the government was going to find the funding for such an unplanned venture.