Ghana is in need of bold and visionary leadership that will creatively transform the natural and human resources of the country to the same position currently being enjoyed by countries such as Botswana, Brazil and China.
A former executive of the World Bank, Dr Gobind Nankani, came to this conclusion when delivering the 2008 Alumni Lecture of the University of Ghana, Legon, on the topic, “Catching up with the ‘Giants’: A growth Strategy for Ghana”.
The lecture, described as “insightful” and “forthright” by the Vice-Chancellor of the University, Prof Clifford Nii Boye Tagoe, looked at the country’s current economic growth state and lessons from the growth of economic giants such as Brazil, Botswana, Malaysia, Singapore and South Korea.
Dr Nankani, a former Vice-President for Africa and currently President of Global Development Network, listed 13 countries that had grown at the rate of seven per cent or more for periods of 25 years or more that Ghana could learn from.
They are Botswana, Brazil, China, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Japan, South Korea, Malaysia, Malta, Oman, Singapore, Taiwan and Thailand.
From studies conducted on their growth, he said, four lessons were clear.
The first was that each country developed an economic growth approach that capitalised on its social, political and economic strengths and the second was that the countries exhibited macroeconomic stability, were open to global savings and had high savings and investments, while the discretionary role of the state was used judiciously with greater reliance on the markets.
He said the fourth lesson was that each of those countries had “visionary leaders who doggedly focused on growth”.
In their journey to growth, he said, the leaders constantly adapted to challenges and opportunities, were pragmatic and experimented with new approaches, replicating widely successful initiatives and quickly containing failures and mistakes.
In his new growth strategy for Ghana, Dr Nankani listed agriculture, mining and oil, as well as education, as the key elements for a making that great leap to a manufacturing and service-driven economy.
On agriculture, he proposed the acceleration of the land reform projects of the country and the massive injection of resources into rural infrastructure, as well as the overhaul of research and development institutions in the country, to take on the lead role in ensuring agricultural productivity.
On oil and mining, Dr Nankani called for the reform of a revenue regime for mining, saying the current regime was the result of the offer of attractive packages to draw investors into an area considered as high risk ventures.
“Such first generation terms make sense for both parties. But it is also important that both host countries and investors build scope for increasing the share of country revenues as risks decline over time,” he pointed out.
On education, Dr Nankani proposed a focus on quality education, adding that the experience of resource-based countries had been one unmistakable common factor, investments in education and human capital.
He said Ghana could convert its resource base into a blessing by “investing — big time — in raising the quantity and quality of education”.
DAILY GRAPHIC, MONDAY, NOVEMBER 17, 2008