The annual Aggrey-Fraser-Guisberg Memorial Lectures, which was instituted in 1957 to commemorate three distinguished personalities in the nation’s history, is a major event in the life of the University of Ghana and indeed the nation as a whole.
The theme for this year’s lecture was ‘Nkrumah and the Making of the Ghanaian Nation-State’ delivered by Professor Emmanuel K. Akyeampong, a Harvard lecturer whose delivery was thought-provoking and candid.
Professor Akyeampong warned that leapfrogging the manufacturing sector and concentrating too much on the services sector could spell danger for the country’s development agenda.
“We seem not only to have declined in our agriculture, but we have skipped manufacturing to go into services like telecommunications and the rest. No country has developed by skipping manufacturing,” Professor Akyeampong observed.
He believes the country’s industrialisation programme must be hinged on a solid agriculture base that produces enough food and raw materials for an industrial take-off. For a long time now, the country’s manufacturing sector has been in decline and is almost comatose.
In pursuing an agenda that intends to wean the country off development aid, the Nana Akufo-Addo administration has recognised that reviving the country’s manufacturing sector is crucial for creating a buoyant economy. Hence, it has put forward an ambitious industrialisation agenda that seeks to establish a factory in every district of the country to provide jobs for the unemployed.
The basis for the industrialisation programme is agriculture, since it is to provide the raw material for adding value for more competitive prices on the global market – and this is intended to fetch the economy foreign exchange to undertake our numerous developmental needs.
Currently, the country is so dependent on imports that we spend annually something in the region of US$2billion just to import food. This means we are not yet food self-sufficient – which is exactly what Professor Akyeampong is advocating, since 60 percent of all arable land in the world is located in Africa.
This is an indictment that needs to be worked on with all the seriousness it deserves. We need to change the structure of the economy, and we need to start with agriculture if we are to achieve the industrialisation agenda that we so seek.
Let’s take the Planting for Food and Jobs programme seriously, since it will be the foundation on which to build a more sustainable industrialised state.