• Saturday, May 25, 2024
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Rebranding Ghana!



Many commentators have already commented on the implications for Nigeria of President Barack Obamas choice of Ghana for his initial visit to sub-Saharan Africa. Much as palace intellectuals, court jesters and the wards of the establishment will like to downplay the significance of the choice, Obama himself has now made it clear that he did not go to Ghana because of Kofi Annan or the Elmina Castle! Just before departing for Ghana, Obama said that part of the reason we’re travelling to Ghana is because you’ve got, there, a functioning democracy, a president who’s serious about reducing corruption, and you’ve seen significant economic growth. He also indicated that by travelling to Ghana, we hope to highlight the effective governance that they have in place. A US government statement added that the purpose of the visit was strengthening the U.S. relationship with one of our most trusted partners in sub-Saharan Africa, and to highlight the critical role that sound governance and civil society play in promoting lasting development essentially offering Ghana as a model for the rest of us in black Africa.

Read Also: Ghana outpaces Nigeria in foreign direct investments first half of 2020

If all this was yet unclear, his speech in Ghana only barely failed to mention Nigeria by name! When Obama uttered the stinging words, No country is going to create wealth if its leaders exploit the economy to enrich themselves … or if police if police can be bought off by drug traffickers. No business wants to invest in a place where the government skims 20 percent off the top … or the head of the port authority is corrupt. No person wants to live in a society where the rule of law gives way to the rule of brutality and bribery. That is not democracy-that is tyranny, even if occasionally you sprinkle an election in there. And now is the time for that style of governance to end everyone across world capitals may have inserted our country as an appropriate illustration. When he spoke about tribalism, patronage and nepotism in Kenya, we were equally guilty. When he commended the people of Ghana for putting democracy on a firmer footing, with repeated peaceful transfers of power even in the wake of closely contested elections, the contrast was with many African nations with our country been one un-shining example! When he stressed that development depends on good governance, we stood indicted.
Ghana has been getting free re-branding in recent times, and not just from Barack Obama! The World Bank Doing Business Report 2009, which I featured on these pages a few weeks ago, declared Ghana the country in West Africa with the best ease of doing business, better than Nigeria. Ghana was ranked sixth in sub-Saharan Africa behind Mauritius, South Africa, Botswana, Namibia and Kenya; and eighty-seventh in the world. Comparatively, Nigeria was ranked twelfth in sub-Saharan Africa and 118th in the world. The recently released Failed States Index published by the US Fund for Peace and Foreign Policy Magazine ranks Ghana the best state in Africa, ranked 124 in the world and classified as a moderate state. The failed states index measures indicators of state vulnerability to collapse or conflict and defines a failed state as a condition of state collapse, i.e. a state that can no longer perform its basic security and development functions and that has no effective control over its territory.
Now can anyone ask Nigerians whether the Nigerian state performs its basic security and development functions? Does the Nigerian state have effective control over oil infrastructure in the Niger-Delta or even at Atlas Cove in Lagos? Well the index ranks Nigeria as the 15th most vulnerable to state collapse in the world, out of 177 nations covered by the report! Not surprisingly, we were in the company of other African nations-Somalia (1st), Zimbabwe (2nd), Sudan (3rd), Chad (4th), DR Congo (5th), CAR (8th), Guinea (9th), Ivory Coast (11th), Kenya (14th) and Nigeria (15th). Both the Doing Business Report and the Failed States Index deliver the same message about Ghana, it is becoming less and less like its African neighbours and developing institutions which enhance its chances of moving out of under-development and instability. The implications for businesses are clear-Ghana is the place to do business-in West and sub-Saharan Africa.
Now Ghana is getting this free re-branding without launching a Good People; Great Nation campaign. It has not appointed expensive brand consultants or started a Vision 2015 program. It did not commission a panel of its former Chief Justices to write a report on electoral reform. It does not talk about corruption on the roof tops. Ghana under good leadership beginning with Jerry Rawlings, and then John Kuffuor, simply discovered and did the right things! No one thinks Ghana’s leaders are saints. No one thinks there is absolutely no corruption in Ghana. I do not think that Ghana’s institutions are so developed as to be completely impossible to compromise. But their leaders have rejected impunity, irresponsibility, mindless corruption, blatant subversion of the will of the people and have chosen to act with decency and restraint.
Anyone who thinks these endorsements of Ghana are of no effect should talk to businesses, including some in Nigeria who in spite of recording larger sales in Nigeria prefer to situate their West African headquarters in Accra. The personal experiences of many Nigerians, including mine, also tally with the developing view that Ghana is a better investment destination than our dear country. Will we do anything about this?