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The Managing Director of Stanbic Bank Ghana, Mr Alhassan Andani, has called for the diversification of the country’s revenue sources through the development of the service sector instead of over relying on earnings from merchandise exports.

Mr Andani said the country could train more people in the vast array of services from where it could earn more revenue as a diversified source to the traditional merchandise export earnings.

He told the Daily Graphic that avenues in services abound in the hospitality industry, private health services, customs destination inspection, telecommunications, education and agri-business which could more than match revenues earned from merchandise exports, provided the right infrastructure was put in place and the right training offered to people to deliver on the job.

He said where necessary marketing boards, as strong as the COCOBOD, should be set up to drive action in an identified area to make it successful to create jobs as well as retain investments in Ghana. Many countries which have been overwhelmed by technology have dared to bridge the development gap by leveraging available technology to offer various services such as business process outsourcing, education, hospitality industry and information technology.

However, for far too long, Ghana, just like other developing countries, has mainly depended on three traditional exports, cocoa, gold and timber for its foreign exchange, which have the umpteenth time crushed under the slightest external shocks. Mr Andani said planners of the economy should also ensure that the country got the basic things right, like becoming self sufficient in food production, especially when the country has favourable conditions for food production.

He said the export-led strategy of the country should be augmented to adequately satisfy domestic demands, adding that support for agriculture was a surest way of retaining most of the investments in the country without fear of capital flight or funds repatriation. Doing so requires a number of measures as building the country’s infrastructure, such as roads and railways, strengthening the provision of public goods, with the government forging public-private partnerships (PPPs) to develop infrastructure and improve service delivery.

Although Africans,and Ghana for that matter,understand that an awful lot of investments are required in infrastructure financing, the funding has not solved the problem of limited funds. However, Mr Andani said Ghana and other African governments could finance infrastructure in two ways: through PPPs and organic financing of infrastructure that constitute a public good. “There is the part that is related to the provision of public goods such as roads, water, national security and pest control, among others, that the government must provide as they fall under public goods.

But there are self-liquidating infrastructure, which the government can team up with the private sector to provide,” he explained. The latter alternative included the provision of hotel facilities, private health care, housing, transportation and other specialised services that the private sector could step in, the Stanbic Bank managing director, pointed out. The authorities should also address the cost of credit through policy measures and implementing physical actions necessary for addressing risks to bring down interest rates to the advantage of industry.

Mr Andani said Stanbic Bank was ready to partner the public and private sectors to make meaningful contributions in Ghana and across Africa. The bank’s parent company, Standard Bank Group, has just adopted a new focus with a new tagline “Making the Right Connections” which illustrates its deepening closeness and partnerships with people and businesses across emerging markets.

After 150 years of operations in Africa, Standard Bank said it was ready to move forward with a renewed commitment to help Africa to connect with itself and with the rest of the world. “This is in line with refocusing the bank in a changing world. In the last 150 years, the bank has operated in different times with different challenges and we think it is now time to connect the rest of Africa to the rest of the world,” Mr Andani stated.

Standard Bank’s first integrated global and in-country advertising campaign to support the group’s growth in emerging markets was launched on July 17 with the tagline, ‘Moving Forward’. However, the Ghana campaign will go with the tagline “Making the Right Connections” since it has a peculiar challenge adopting the global slogan. The Stanbic Bank Ghana managing director said the change in focus which defined the Standard Bank DNA, was to reflect the reality that overtime and in a global recession customers’ circumstances had changed, saying “so we want to connect with them and help them to connect with the rest of the continent and the world.” He said the bank considered it ripe to start “making the right connections” in a global economic slowdown because it was a period during which the customers needed the bank most to take advantage of new opportunities. “This new era will be marked with a new three-dimensional (modern animated) commercials that will be unique to the group; customers will see teamwork and more deals using resources across the networks,” Mr Andani stated.

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