Sir Sam Jonah, the Executive Chairman, Jonah Capital, has called for a deliberate policy to change the attitude of Ghanaians towards local products.
He said the inordinate taste for foreign goods in Ghana and many African countries was not conducive to developing indigenous capital.
“There is little faith in things made in Ghana. We have an inordinate taste for foreign goods whether food items, clothing, electronic, footwear, not to forget toothpick and toilet paper. This mindset issue manifests itself even at official levels,” Sir Jonah said on Monday in Accra, in a keynote address at the 69th Annual New Year School and Conference (ANYSC).
He cited the rehabilitated GIHOC Shoe Factory in Kumasi, which had cause to publicly complain about the continuous importation of boots for the security services to the neglect of their brand of boots.
“It is also not very necessary to reinvent the wheel in terms of policies aimed at building indigenous or national capital, especially where there are best modules that address our situation in Ghana,” he said.
He cited South Korea, which during the 1960s, the Government through the educational system succeeded in making people believe that consuming foreign goods at the expense of their local manufactured ones was unpatriotic; stating that merely smoking a foreign-made cigarette could get someone reported to the authorities.
Sir Jonah said: “We must consciously strive to create business champions, just as Nigeria has done with Dangote, UBA, Zenith Bank, First Bank, Glo, GT Bank, just to name a few”.
He urged Ghana to begin with value addition to its cocoa, precious metals and the massive opportunities in ICT to develop software entrepreneurs; declaring that the Government must move away from the age-old provider of all things to a facilitator of all things.
“We must strategically transform ourselves, from agriculture to agribusiness and from mining to mining beneficiation. We must move away from being mere planters of cocoa beans to manufacturers of world-class chocolate products. We must allow our nationals to participate in these sectors as investors and shareholders,” he said.
“Shining examples like Kasapreko Company Limited must not be left to their own strengths to prod along. They must become national reference points to the world by both private and national promotional efforts.”
He recounted that in a recently held conference in Abuja, when the name Dangote was mentioned, it was made very clear by Nigerian Officials present that; “Dangote is a national institution……”
Sir Jonah, who is also the Chancellor of the University of Cape Coast, said: “This is the spirit and attitude we should have when it comes to providing support to Ghanaian businesses.”
“Our officials from relevant sector ministries and institutions should emulate such laudable examples of supporting their own.”
He said: “To create jobs, we need investment and to attract private investors, we need to ensure that the environment is and remains competitively attractive”.
“I therefore, believe that, given the opportunity with strong government support in creating the requisite environment for national capitalism, the Ghana entrepreneur can deliver growth with jobs that will lead to sustainable development for our motherland.
“It is my conviction that for some time now, this is the best opportunity to take these ideas to action. We must avoid what the Malaysians call TONA (Talk Only No Action).”
Professor Ebenezer Oduro Owusu, the Vice-Chancelor, University of Ghana, said job creation remained central to the country’s sustainable development and at the same time a growing concern to our shared prosperity.
He said despite considerable efforts by successive governments to create jobs in the last two decades, unemployment, particularly among graduates from the nation’s universities and other tertiary institutions remains very high.
Prof Michael Ayitey Tagoe, the Acting Provost, College of Education and Dean, SCDE, University of Ghana, said the emphasis on job creation and national development stems from the fact that in the last one year, the Government’s effort had focused on job creation and how to address unemployment in the country.
The ANYSC, which is being organised by the School of Continuing and Distance Education (SCDE), University of Ghana, is on the theme “Job Creation for Accelerated National Development: The Role of the Private Sector.”
The week-long event, which was officially opened by Vice President Alhaji Dr Mahamudu Bawumia, is under the auspices of Kosmos Energy, Vodafone Ghana, Goil, Voltic, Daily Graphic, Prudential Bank and the Institute of Statistical, Social and Economic Research (ISSER), University of Ghana.