Osafo-Maafo visions "outside the traditional box"
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The concentration of efforts on traditional inputs to generate the needed output for a massive across-board economic growth has not been after all proactive. Hence the large scale of poverty in the face of abundance of natural resources. Ghana faces a huge task ahead if she were to be a real player in providing education, knowledge and jobs for the citizenry, creating wealth for business and people, providing health, housing and security for her people and more importantly generating the resources needed to match her growing and young population. It is obvious that the trend of today’s global development will cut societies that focus her energies on her traditional systems of development into pieces, and the consequences will surely be a disaster. Next year’s election will determine how we want to manage Ghana into the next phase of our development. Do we want to move the country through the status quo of traditional systems that have stifled our progress or we want to venture positively into new areas of innovations and thinking that have helped societies like the Asian Tigers to move their economies far above what the economists postulated some two decades ago? Our decisiveness on these approaches will determine how hopeful or otherwise Ghana will be. Thinking outside the box It is against this background that Osafo-Maafo’s vision for a new paradigm shift where the focus of Ghana ’s economic development is specifically geared towards harnessing new innovative resources for national development will constitute the major policy agenda forward. In reaching outside our confines to source for new wealth of resources for effective and sustainable development take-off and growth, Osafo-Maafo has identified certain key areas that can be categorised into human resource capitalisation, info-business and medical services outsourcing and agro-salt production capitalisation. These areas have been hooked on with necessary and must have key development targets including education and knowledge, energy, safety and security, rule of law, participatory governance and supported with innovative financial services. Human resource utilisation One area that the country has failed to capitalise on is the many Ghanaian professionals around the world. It is the vision of Osafo-Maafo to capitalise on the enormous human resource capacities abound to lead in his strategy for Ghana ’s development. He notes that Ghana is fortunate to have many of such professionals in and out of Ghana doing wonders. It is time we factored them into our development agenda by creating the necessary support condition relatively better to attract our own people first. He intends to strategise the economy to retain the best professionals for domestic production and growth as well as earning foreign exchange by placing excess human resources at the disposal of the sub-region. Two key areas identified are the universities or the education or the innovation and excellence centres and the medical services. For instance through his specialist centres- medical tourism vision, he hopes to consciously and significantly upgrade facilities in such departments like the Korle-Bu Cardio Centre to take a major lead in the provision of first class health services to attract foreigners within the sub-region who travel to Europe for such services. His ultimate aim is to generate enough resources that can be used to support the health needs of Ghanaians at a subsidised cost and at the same time be used to break the neck of the exodus of doctors abroad. Education At the basic level he aims to deepen the model educational system further down to the primary level to create an attractive and competitive educational system at the district levels. Alongside this system will be employment related vocational facilities resourced to absorb, train and equip school leavers who might not be able to move up the formal educational ladder for them to be employable at their various trading capacities. Central to Osafo-Maafo’s vision on education is the placing of technical and ICT education that focuses on the employment needs and trends of the economy. At the higher level of education he plans to secure the universities and the polytechnics through conscious and systematic facility expansion that will create excess opportunities for all Ghanaians especially the needy students and at the same time attract foreign students for purposes of revenue generation to support innovation, excellence and delivery. At the apex of his education strategy is linking business and employment needs with universities’ programmes and courses: supporting knowledge and excellence that bear the product of businesses in mind. As well, he was to provide education leadership that ventures into new areas of business and entrepreneurial development courses and programmes like petrol-chemical engineering courses to provide the knowledge and technique to support the country’s search for alternative energy sources. He wants to structure the education system at the highest level to create knowledge centres where the universities will generate businesses and industries to take advantage of their enormous intellectual resources. Agro-salt production: His focus here is to cut down the rural-urban migration that severely reduces rural productivity while putting strains on our cities, modernise our agricultural productivity from the current rudimentary inhuman and unattractive practices to one that is technologically led with scientific systems of production, distribution, storage and marketing of agro-products to ensure the country’s self sufficiency in food production. Osafo-Maafo intends to provide the political leadership that is founded with high level management skills that will make agro- businesses key provider of employment for the growing youth, generate much needed revenue for government development machinery and provide foreign exchange support for the country’s development agenda. His plan to gear fund agro-business development through a linkage with the industries will open up the rural communities to specific industries that make use of their resources and through that significant employment could be created. Salt production will be prioritised to benefit from the huge fortune surrounding the petrol-chemical industry within the ECOWAS sub-region. He wants to make salt the ‘white gold’ of Ghana by expediting efforts to place the salt industry at a strategic position in which Nigeria for instance will find it cheaper and technically dependable for their salt components of their oil development. Domestic wealth creation and venture capital funding: His determination to support professionals and innovators will be capped with the establishment of venture capital fund to provide adequate funding, drive domestic wealth creation and entrepreneurial development for effective private sector growth. This initiative will be strongly supported with effective and necessary tax incentives and local content law to drive joint venture initiatives and local businesses. Ultimately, the idea is to appreciate and support indigenous people to be at the driving seat in the development of Ghana “instead of assisting others to develop the country.” Energy: The issue of energy has been very problematic in recent times. The negative repercussions on both domestic and industrial usages have been very enormous. This calls into question whether our hydro system of energy is tenable or not. Osafo-Maafo believes the development and outsourcing of non-traditional energy sources will place Ghana on top of her development agenda. He hopes to lead the country into developing combined-cycle gas turbine. It is his vision also to create the environment for mining and energy intensive industries to be self-sufficient through sourcing their own energy or be dependent on own power generation plant. VISION RECAP: Pursue vigorous development and utilisation of the human resource capacity Develop combined- cycle gas turbine for the energy sector and create and support key energy intensive industries to be self-sufficient Establish venture capital fund to support local initiatives and professional development Gear fund agro-business development through linkage with the industries and develop the salt industry to take advantage of the booming oil business in the sub-region Resource universities to generate businesses and industries to take advantage of their enormous intellectual resources; and also to develop higher education to generate surplus avenues for international students To be continued…
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