Chairman of the Tropical Cable and Conductor in Ghana, Dr. Anthony Oteng-Gyasi has pinpointed the reward system for work as a crucial factor contributing to Ghana’s stagnant manufacturing sector.
In an alumni lecture titled “The Fault Dear Brutus,” delivered at the Great Hall in the University of Ghana on November 7, Dr. Oteng-Gyasi described the reward system as skewed, explaining how it favors traders and importers over local producers.
This, he stated, was the root cause for the problems Ghana faces in its manufacturing industry.
“The lack of a realistic manufacturing promotion policy, absence of value chains and easier ways of making money continues to be our bane as a nation. Many of our best and brightest find it easier to spend their energies on obtaining lucrative public contracts for imported goods and services rather than the hard work involved in setting up and growing manufacturing industry.”
“Of course, I don’t blame people or fault them for choosing the easier option. The reward system is skewed because, over the years, national policies at the micro and sector level does not support production. Instead, every policy, from insistent on exchange rate stability to benefit people, importing secondhand spare parts in the face of local inflation, to the many legislative exemptions from import duty, undermines local production efforts. Even local content rules are allowed exemptions under the law and in short order, the exemptions become the norm.”
Emphasizing the ramifications of this imbalance, he underscored a decline in manufacturing jobs and the concentration of wealth among a select group of elites, further stating that the consequence is a majority of Ghanaians trapped in low-skill, dead-end jobs which perpetuates a cycle of poverty.
“Our inability, and sometimes plain unwillingness to enforce local laws, give traders and importers a clear advantage over local production. It is no wonder that we have become a nation of traders. Unfortunately, in the process, we lose the quality and career-building manufacturing jobs on which middle-class families can be nurtured and grown.”
“We are rapidly becoming a society of a small, affluent minority benefiting from economic rent, public procurement, trading monopolies and a vast unemployed and underemployed majority stuck in low-scale, dead-end trading and service industry jobs. The solution to poverty is income generation from skilled and sustainable jobs. Manufacturing and production are the means to such jobs.”
Calling for a transformative policy shift, Dr. Oteng-Gyasi advocated for a reorientation toward value chains and prioritizing the manufacturing sector. He urged the government to incentivize local production and invest in fostering a conducive environment for manufacturing businesses.
Dr. Oteng-Gyasi also stressed the critical need for a more sustainable and inclusive growth model, highlighting the importance of prioritizing market access for locally produced goods, envisioning a revitalized economic landscape for Ghana.
“Fortunately, we have not reached the tipping point and there is still time and opportunity to take responsibility for ourselves. The first step is to identify the appropriate value chains. We must make manufacturing policy based on these chains and make our limited resources available to manufacturing within the chains. Market access for local production should be a priority. Every locally produced effort should be given priority over imports with a price advantage if required in the early stages.”
Story by: Nsoh Ezekiel | univers.ug.edu.gh