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“Support For Entrepreneurs Will Turnaround Economy, Reduce Unemployment” – Prez Akufo-Addo
 
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27-Mar-2017  
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The President of the Republic, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, has indicated that the fastest way to resolve the issues of an economy that does not meet the needs of the people and of an alarming rate of unemployment lie in entrepreneurship, business and technology.

According to President Akufo-Addo, the country has not come to terms with the image of the entrepreneur in our country, adding that “we seem unsure about the definition of what constitutes business.”

Nonetheless, the President has noted that “it is time to take entrepreneurship seriously”, explaining that “successful economies always depend on entrepreneurs running successful businesses.”

President Akufo-Addo made this known when he delivered a speech at the International Conference on Entrepreneurship, Business and Technology (ICEBUT), organized by the Methodist University College Ghana, on Monday, March 27, 2017.

The President noted that it is in the interest of all stakeholders that “those who set up ventures and take business risks are able to generate wealth”, adding that “this is the sector that must grow, for it is the sector that will provide the cure for our unemployment crisis.”

It is for this reason that the President has assured that impediments, largely found in the public sector, which include petty corruption and excessive regulation, which demoralize businesses will be removed to ensure that the businesses grow.

The ‘Asempa Budget’, the President added, “has shown that my government is serious about its part of the bargain and is committed to strengthening business and the private sector.”

On the role of educational institutions, President Akufo-Addo noted that “educational institutions would have to take a closer look at their curriculum content and the way they teach, and align it with present day realities”, as “the value of a university is measured by how easily its graduates find jobs.”

The President also urged businesses to employ the use of technology in the running of their businesses as it “formalizes their operations without much cost.

“It is time to utilize them to the full, instead of the one-upmanship gadgets they tend to be currently. A smart phone can enable a market woman decide when the best time is to make the planned trip to the orange farm for her purchases, because she can see the state of the oranges from her home or office 200 kilometers away. That same smart phone would hold all the records of her previous transactions and enable her conduct her banking. The possibilities are endless and we have the opportunity to make rapid progress, with the aid of technology to create wealth,” he said.

President Akufo-Addo also urged for the development of “partnerships between industry and universities to ensure that the next generation of business leaders are appropriately trained. Our educational institutions need to know, at first hand, what is happening in industry and train their students accordingly. This is a fundamental imperative if we are to achieve best practice and create jobs. We ignore the teachings of two of the most powerful economies of our era, the German and the Chinese, to our cost.”

To this end, President Akufo-Addo was glad to learn that the Methodist University College Ghana, through its Centre for Entrepreneurship Education, Research and Training (CEERT), has developed programmes aimed at developing skills for the business community, and creating entrepreneurial managers for corporate, as well as for individual businesses.

“It is equally good to learn that the entrepreneurship training the University College offered national service personnel in the Brong Ahafo Region in 2014, as part of the University’s social responsibility and extension services, is turning out to be a success.

I would want such a programme to be rolled out nationally to affect a greater number of service personnel. The new leadership of the National Service Scheme will be alerted to the potential of this programme,” he said.


SPEECH DELIVERED BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC, NANA ADDO DANKWA AKUFO-ADDO, AT THE INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE ON ENTREPRENEURSHIP, BUSINESS AND TECHNOLOGY (ICEBUT), 2017 ON MONDAY MARCH 27, 2017, AT THE MPLAZA HOTEL, ACCRA

 

I thank the Institute of Education & Entrepreneurship of the Methodist University College Ghana for the invitation to this conference.

I suspect it was an easy decision for the organizers to choose me as the person to do the formal opening. I can just hear the conversation at that meeting: let’s ask President Akufo-Addo, he will have no choice but to accept this invitation. He talks passionately about entrepreneurship; he has announced Ghana is open for business; and he has appointed a Minister for Business Development, as well as a high powered Technology Minister. Then someone would have added, not a day goes by without this President saying something about the importance of the private sector. This is a conference tailor-made for him.

Well, need I say that it was an equally easy decision for me to accept your invitation? The two subjects of the economy and jobs dominated our recent elections. Indeed, they still dominate our every conversation and all our lives in Ghana today. No prizes, therefore, for guessing why I would be interested in a conference on entrepreneurship, business and technology.

I believe that we are all agreed now that we cannot continue on the business as usual path and hope to grow our economy to create the jobs we need. We must change the way our economy works, and we must change our attitudes to be able to grow the prosperous Ghana we all want.  My team and I are of the firm belief that the fastest way to resolve these two interconnected problems of an economy that does not meet our needs and of an alarming rate of unemployment lies in the subject of your conference, that is entrepreneurship, business and technology.

Mr. Chairman, I do not preach any new gospel when I stress the importance of education, the importance of skills training, the importance of entrepreneurship, the importance of a credible legal framework within which businesses operate, and the importance of a change in attitude that enables our young people to take advantage of opportunities that arise within the economy.

I know I am in the midst of the already converted when it comes to emphasizing the need for education. The Methodist Church has a remarkable track record in the provision of education in our country. We have the Methodist Church to thank for some of the best second cycle institutions in Ghana, and I mention Mfantsipim School, Prempeh College, Wesley College and Wesley Girls High School as some of the more famous examples. I note that the Methodist University is already carving a distinctive niche within the ranks of tertiary institutions.

Mr Chairman, it is worth pointing out that, even though the primary focus of religion is the redemption of souls, the Christian churches have always emphasized the practical aspect of our lives as well, or at least they used to.

These days we are in danger of getting things out of balance and allowing our lives to be taken over completely by a narrow interpretation of religion. Hard work, cleanliness, respect for the law used to be important attributes of religiosity. Hard work, the preacher men used to tell us, paid dividends. We were urged to give unto Caesar, what was Caesar’s and to God, what was God’s. Miracles occurred, but they were not everyday occurrences. We were urged to work hard, and that was the basis of success.

Today, an increasing number of people seem to think that success in all fields of endeavor is dependent on miracles, and not hard work. We come to work and spend the first hour and more, not on the job we are paid to do, but on prayers; we go to all night prayers and come to work the next day tired and unfit for purpose. We take out a week for every funeral, and expect our businesses to thrive because we invoke the name of the Almighty.  

Distinguished ladies and gentlemen, I am eternally grateful to the Almighty for his grace and favour that led to our winning the elections of December 7, but it would be unfair to discount the amount of very hard work that was put in by many, many people up and down the country. Doubtless, the fervent prayers we all sent up to the Almighty helped to deliver the results we so desired, but vigilance and dedication on the part of many unsung heroes counted a lot and should not be discounted. I mention this simply to make the point that there is the need to keep a proper balance at all times. As it says in Holy Scripture, “A false balance is an abomination to the LORD, But a just weight is His delight”.

Let me refer again to the Good Book, where it says, there is a time and place for everything.  We cannot and should not continue to hide behind religiosity to indulge in the habits that have characterized our attitude to work. The churches and mosques have a critical role to play in the attitudinal change that I believe we need to build a new economy. This change starts at school, and with how our attitudes are tuned in the classroom towards the subjects we are taught, and the professions we are encouraged to pursue.

Mr Chairman, we have not come to terms about the image of the entrepreneur in our country. In much the same way, we seem unsure about the definition of what constitutes business.

It is not unusual to hear people say they are trying to do some business, whilst they look for a job. It is not unusual to hear some people say they are trying to do some farming, whilst they look for a job. Such a state of affairs and such a mindset cannot support a nation that wants to grow its economy and be prosperous.

The truth is that successful economies always depend on entrepreneurs running successful businesses. It is time to take entrepreneurship seriously, and there could not be a better forum to demonstrate this than at a conference such as this.

Mr Chairman, you have to ask and find answers to some difficult questions at this conference. How do we change the mindset of so many of us that have been conditioned only to look towards government as a source of employment? How do we change attitudes to accord the proper respect to farming and treat it as the business that it must be? How do we accord the respect that should be due the private sector and see it as the instrument of growth?

Something obviously went wrong when, within my lifetime, cocoa farmers went from being the rich and powerful people in our society, to being the poor and unappreciated. Something certainly went wrong when the most attractive job for our graduating classes from the universities is the customs. And it is a sign of how skewed our economy has become, when a customs official is able to build or purchase a house faster than a cocoa farmer. Indeed, while I am on that train of thought, why not bring the absurdity into much clearer focus? An official of COCOBOD is more likely to be richer and more respected than a cocoa farmer in this country, where cocoa still contributes the most significant part of our Gross Domestic Product.

Those, who take risks with their money and with their time and energies, have been neutered, and those, who opt for security of tenure now, have guaranteed riches as well. We have turned the economic orthodoxy upside down.

We, of course, need technocrats and public and government officials to run the bureaucracy. They should be well paid and the nation should be able to count on them to be honest and hardworking. We must have an efficient and competent civil service, public services as a whole, and the same would go for the legislature and the judiciary.

Those who work in these places should expect security of tenure. But they are not supposed to form the bulk of the workforce and that is not where the serious money is supposed to be made in this or any other country.

When the public service becomes attractive as a source of money making, then we must acknowledge to ourselves that we have things in the wrong order. It is in all our interests that those who set up ventures and take business risks are able to generate wealth. This is the sector that must grow, for it is the sector that will provide the cure for our unemployment crisis.

A business venture might employ three or twenty or four hundred people, but, if it flourishes, we can be sure that our aspirations for a prosperous Ghana are becoming a reality. Often, the public service has been an impediment, instead of a help to our would-be entrepreneurs. Petty corruption and excessive regulation weigh down and demoralize businesses. This administration is determined to remove such impediments and allow businesses to grow.

There is work to be done on all sides, if we are to achieve our goals; work by government, work by the educational institutions and work by the business community. I believe the recent budget has shown that my government is serious about its part of the bargain and is committed to strengthening business and the private sector.

The educational institutions would have to take a closer look at their curriculum content and the way they teach, and align it with present day realities. More and more these days across the globe, the value of a university is measured by how easily its graduates find jobs. This is a challenge that our own universities must face.

This is probably where technology comes in. There is no merit that I can see in persisting with old methods of doing things, when technology can ease the drudgery and tedium and allow time for innovation.

It also means that businesses can formalize their operations without much cost. The figures show that almost all adults in this country now have smart phones. It is time to utilize them to the full, instead of the one-upmanship gadgets they tend to be currently. A smart phone can enable a market woman decide when the best time is to make the planned trip to the orange farm for her purchases, because she can see the state of the oranges from her home or office 200 kilometers away. That same smart phone would hold all the records of her previous transactions and enable her conduct her banking. The possibilities are endless and we have the opportunity to make rapid progress, with the aid of technology to create wealth.              

 Mr. Chairman, it is also important to develop partnerships between industry and universities to ensure that the next generation of business leaders are appropriately trained. Our educational institutions need to know, at first hand, what is happening in industry and train their students accordingly. This is a fundamental imperative if we are to achieve best practice and create jobs. We ignore the teachings of two of the most powerful economies of our era, the German and the Chinese, to our cost.

I am glad to learn that the Methodist University College Ghana, through its Centre for Entrepreneurship Education, Research and Training (CEERT), has developed programmes aimed at developing skills for the business community, and creating entrepreneurial managers for corporate, as well as for individual businesses. It is equally good to learn that the entrepreneurship training the University College offered national service personnel in the Brong Ahafo Region in 2014, as part of the University’s social responsibility and extension services, is turning out to be a success. I would want such a programme to be rolled out nationally to affect a greater number of service personnel. The new leadership of the National Service Scheme will be alerted to the potential of this programme.

Mr. Chairman, I look forward to the outcome of this conference and the policy proposals that would emerge from it. They should drive the development of businesses and promote opportunities for young people to venture into entrepreneurial endeavour in many different fields. I know that entrepreneurial talents abound within the youth of our country. They just need an appropriate framework for their talents to shine.   

I thank you for your time and attention, and hope that your discussions will cover some of the issues I have raised. I look forward to receiving new ideas from this conference that will inspire government build an environment that is conducive for entrepreneurs, educational institutions and the business community.

I wish you fruitful deliberations and a successful conference.

It is now my pleasure to declare the first International Conference on Entrepreneurship, Business and Technology duly open.       

 
 
 
Source: Peacefmonline.com
 
 

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