Ghana has few business magnates because local businesses have been demonised and politicised, Sir Sam Jonah, Chancellor of the University of Cape Coast (UCC) has said.
He said the perception that entrepreneurs were crooks and that the government of the day undermined those it considered politically unfriendly, was not healthy for entrepreneurship and job creation.
“Ghanaian entrepreneurs are on tenterhooks and walk on egg shells at every election because depending on where you stand, your expectation is either patronage or retribution,” he added.
Speaking at the opening of the 69th Annual New Year School and Conference, in Accra yesterday at the University of Ghana, Legon, he said this had stifled the growth of Ghanaian businesses as compared to that of Nigeria.
The theme for this year’s school and conference is, ‘Job creation for accelerated national development: The role of the private sector.’It is being organised by College of Education of the School of Continuing and Distance Education.
Topics to be discussed include, ‘Creating an enabling environment for private sector development’ and ‘Development and supporting innovative entrepreneurship’.
Sir Jonah said the reversal of the unsatisfactory and unhealthy situation would require a complete mindset change at all levels of society and called for the conscious promotion of local businesses.
He said Malaysia, Singapore, South Africa, South Korea and Nigeria had done better than Ghana because they had created the environment for their citizens to play a major role in economic activity.
“We can and must learn from the empowerment experience of these countries. We must not repeat their mistakes. We must avoid creating seasonal local entrepreneurs through political patronage.
“Tribal and ethnocentric considerations, family affiliation and friendships must not be the only route to gain business opportunities. Crony capitalism comes with too high a price,” he said.
Sir Jonah said there was the need for government to institute measures “to ratchet up local investor confidence” while corruption must be eradicated as it also affected investor confidence.
He also called for the Local Content Bills to be fully operationalised to boost patronage of local content while efforts must also be made to tap into the Ghanaian diaspora in pool of talent and capital.
“To create jobs we need investment and to attract private investors we need to ensure that the environment is and remains competitively attractive. Given the opportunity, the Ghana entrepreneur can deliver growth with jobs that will lead to sustainable development,” he said.
On education, Sir Jonah expressed worry that there was a mismatch between industry demands and output from educational system.
He said over the last year enrollment into social science courses at the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology was higher than the combined enrollment of engineering and science students.
He said it was worrying that the Ghanaian polytechnics had been turned into universities and now offering social science courses when the German economy relied on the country’s skilled artisans and other technical professionals from polytechnics during the global downturn.
“We need to emphasise science and technology in our educational system. To enhance our competitiveness, we must produce more knowledge workers for agricultural, engineering, manufacturing, information technology and creative arts,” Sir Jonah said.
Source: The Ghanaian Times
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