SMEs don’t transform economy without deliberate investment – Prof Bokpin


Professor of Finance at the University of Ghana, Godfred A. Bokpin has argued that Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) cannot contribute to the country’s economic transformation until there is a deliberate investment into that space.

He holds that until there is a conscious effort in growing some of the SMEs to become global regional businesses, their efforts would not yield much.

“In this country, it has never been our goal to grow and nurture domestic capital the same way we like foreign capital. Where did we sit with the domestic Ghanaian private sector and say that this is what we have, how can we assist you?

We are always here deceiving ourselves with SMEs. SMEs don’t transform an economy.  SMEs do not produce complex things. The world thrives on margins and margins come by adding value.  Until we are conscious of growing some of our SMEs for some of them to become global regional businesses, we are not going anywhere. Pick the lucrative sectors of this economy and Ghana is visibly absent,” he said.

He made a strong case that our leaders who are mostly politicians failed to grow the private sector and SMEs for that matter because they are “afraid of a powerful domestic private sector”.

“Right from independence, the average Ghanaian politician has been afraid of a powerful domestic private sector because of the role money plays in politics. So we are more open to facilitating foreign capital because we think they will not play a role in politics. If we have done this level of injustice to ourselves, how do you turn around and cry for going to IMF 17 times,” he lamented.

“As a country, we have not been able to put in place the right measures and institutions that will ensure the necessary fiscal restraint and drive efficiencies. Therefore anytime there are these challenges, we needed an external anchor. Data supports that anytime we go to the IMF, we get some level of macroeconomic stability but we are not able to sustain that. However, macroeconomic stability is not an end in itself but a means to an end. That is why nobody should expect the IMF to come and transform their economy,” he added.

He added that: “The best-helping hand that the country can find lies with itself” and that there is the need to sit “and conceptualize where we want Ghana to be and how we want to get there and how to track that.”

Professor Bokpin further indicated that the blueprint Dr. Kwame Nkrumah took to the IMF is similar to that of subsequent Presidents, which shows that our issues and challenges such as high expenditure, low revenue, and so on are predictable, hence, called for proactive efforts, intentional and pragmatic measures to salvage the situations.

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