Riding a wave of optimism...........President must avoid populism whiles delivering hope and direction
At long last, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo has realised his dream of becoming President of the Republic of Ghana.
After a long, illustrious and sometimes turbulent career in frontline politics, Ghana’s new leader is President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo.
And based on the numbers and promises on which he swept to power, it is safe to say he rode on a wave of optimism reposed in him by millions of Ghanaians to deliver them the promised land of milk, honey and blessings.
But campaigning and running a government are two different things: comparable to a cat and dog living side by side.
Whilst he continues to ride on such optimism, business leaders, in wishing his government all the best, believe that Nana and his team are better of leveraging on this wave of optimism and letting Ghanaians know the true picture of the difficulty on the ground; map out a clear plan of how to tackle the situation; whiles avoiding populist moves to gain political capital.
With high interest rates, high cost of doing business, unstable power situation, fluctuating inflation and a weak currency, business leaders believe what President Akufo-Addo should present to the people is hope.
Kojo Addae Mensah, Managing Director of investment bank, Databank, told the B&FT in an interview that the new government should be very careful about playing to the gallery or pursuing populism.
“It is politics; doing things just to be popular rather than doing things to move the country forward are two separate things. You can do things that are popular but do not inure to the wellbeing of the citizens. They should be very careful not to be victims of such moves,” he said.
He added that once the government keeps fiscal discipline very tight, avoids excess expenditure, allows the Central Bank a free hand, and allows the market to operate freely, the economy will get back to fast growth.
“One of the biggest problems we have is where our expenditure exceeds our budget and when we borrow we should borrow for viable projects that generate jobs and income to improve our economy,” he added.
Mr. Mensah noted that with politicians making so many promises it is natural that investors will have very high expectations, but he will rather tone down on those expectations so he does not get any rude shocks along the way.
“With the IMF programme straddling an election year, I believe the institution will still be watching over us in 2017. I am not going to have very high expectations but rather decent level of expectations that the general economic environment will improve…investors will have more confidence in our economy and we will able to run things and bring some investments into the country through our capital market,” he added.
Rising a wave of optimism
Ken Thompson, Managing Director of Dalex Finance, believes that with the millions that voted for President Akufo-Addo, he is riding on a wave of optimism and should take advantage of that and tell the truth of the challenges ahead to Ghanaians.
“If he starts by not laying very clearly the truth and agenda for how he intends to make us prosperous, he will fail. What we need is not an immediate solution to the problems but we need hope and direction.
He must give us hope and show us what he is doing to deliver the prosperity we crave, lead by example and shy away from the shining cars and unnecessary travels. He should deliver hope and a clear plan of where we want to be,” he added.
To deliver on this promise, Mr. Thompson added, the new government should devalue the cedi, focus on transforming agriculture which will feed industries and help President Akufo-Addo deliver on his promise of ‘One District, One Factory’.
“Once you invest in agriculture and support the value chain it all feeds to us and that is where we should be investing our money. First and foremost he should devalue the currency gradually and boost agriculture and make the sector competitive,” he added.