Sankofa Entrepreneurship Diaries: Echoes from Ghana’s Development Landscape with Benson Mr. Joseph Benson: Economic Tapestry


…Can entrepreneurship education weave the threads of prosperity?

The tale of Ananse, the clever spider, is legendary. Ananse, with his intricate webs, demonstrates the power of weaving together many threads to create something greater than the sum of its parts. As Ghana stands on the brink of an economic transformation, one might ask: Can the intricate threads of its economy be woven into a tapestry of unparalleled prosperity? Central to this weaving process is entrepreneurship education. Just as Ananse’s web is a testament to his resourcefulness and foresight, entrepreneurship education is the foundational thread, equipping Ghana’s youth with the skills and vision to innovate, adapt and lead the nation’s economic ascent.

Trade, investment, the European connection:

Just as Ananse would weave his intricate webs to connect different points, creating a network of opportunities and possibilities, so too does Ghana weave its economic ties with the world. The recent trade accord between the European Union and Ghana symbolises one such powerful connection, ushering in a new era of economic cooperation. This alliance is poised to enhance exports, spotlighting sectors such as cocoa, textiles and artisanal crafts. With the European Union being one of the largest consumers of Ghanaian cocoa, this agreement is expected to have a transformative impact, particularly benefitting the cocoa sector. Furthermore, the textile industry, which has historically faced challenges in accessing European markets due to stringent regulations, is now anticipated to experience increased competitiveness and market penetration. The artisanal craft sector, crucial for preserving Ghana’s cultural heritage and providing livelihoods to many local communities, stands to gain immensely with enhanced market access and recognition on the European stage. Preliminary data paints an optimistic picture, with trade projections estimating a surge of up to 25 percent by 2025.

Ghana’s appeal as a hub for investment is undeniable. Between 2020 and 2023, Foreign Direct Investments (FDI) soared by an impressive 18 percent, with sectors like technology, renewable energy, and advanced manufacturing standing out. Ghana’s strategic positioning as a gateway to the West African market makes it a prime destination for investors. The technology sector, driven by a burgeoning tech ecosystem and a young, tech-savvy population, has witnessed exponential growth. Similarly, with global trends prioritising green energy and sustainability, the renewable energy sector in Ghana has attracted significant attention, positioning the nation as a leader in sustainable energy solutions in the region. The growth in the advanced manufacturing sector can be attributed to Ghana’s robust infrastructure development and government initiatives promoting industrialisation. This influx of capital isn’t merely a result of abundant resources or favourable policies; it’s a reflection of the entrepreneurial spirit nurtured by Ghana’s commitment to entrepreneurship education. By fostering creativity, resilience and adaptability, Ghanaian entrepreneurs are crafting a compelling narrative, making the nation an attractive prospect for international investors.

Tech, mining, Ghana’s resourceful innovations:

In the tales of Ananse, the spider often used his intelligence to turn challenges into opportunities, showcasing the power of ingenuity and vision. Drawing parallels to Ghana’s current economic landscape, the nation’s tech sector mirrors Ananse’s innovative spirit. Ghana’s technological journey is indeed commendable. The rise of mobile money platforms, for instance, has revolutionised financial inclusion in the country, allowing millions to access banking services for the first time. Additionally, the nation’s agri-tech start-ups are leveraging technology to optimise farming practices, leading to increased yields and sustainable agricultural practices. From state-of-the-art Fintech solutions to pioneering agri-tech initiatives, Ghana is carving a niche for itself on the international tech stage. By the close of 2023, investments in the tech realm are projected to surpass the US$150million mark, reflecting a significant 30 percent growth from the previous year.
Parallelly, the mining sector, with its emphasis on gold and bauxite, remains a pivotal component of Ghana’s economic mosaic. Gold, being one of Ghana’s top exports, plays a significant role in its GDP, while bauxite reserves, once fully tapped, have the potential to transform the nation’s industrial base. However, in an era where sustainability is paramount, Ghana faces the challenge of marrying its economic pursuits with environmental preservation. The adverse environmental impacts of mining, such as deforestation and water pollution, have been a concern. Yet, there’s a silver lining. Ghana’s commitment to the African Mining Vision, which promotes transparent, equitable and sustainable extraction, is a step in the right direction. Here, entrepreneurship education emerges as the guiding star. By championing sustainable and ethical business practices, it offers a roadmap for Ghana to navigate this complex terrain, ensuring both economic prosperity and environmental stewardship.

Green initiatives: Energy, tourism, infrastructure:

Remember how Ananse once tried to hoard all the world’s wisdom in a pot, only to realise that true wisdom was in sharing and using it for the greater good? One might chuckle and ask: “What would Ananse do if he had to tackle climate change?” Well, he’d probably look to Ghana for inspiration!

Ghana’s unwavering commitment to a greener tomorrow shines brightly in its forward-thinking initiatives. The country’s dedication to renewable energy is evident in its participation in international climate agreements and its alignment with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Setting the pace, the nation aims to harness a whopping 15 percent of its energy from renewable sources by 2025. This ambition is backed by international support and partnerships, with organisations like the World Bank and the African Development Bank providing both funding and expertise. And it’s not just talk; projects like the Bui Solar Plant and the Ada Wind Farm are living testaments to this green ambition, both of which have garnered international attention and praise.
Shifting gears to tourism, Ghana is not just undergoing a change – it’s leading a revolution. The country’s rich cultural heritage, combined with its natural beauty, makes it a prime destination for tourists. With a spotlight on eco-tourism, Ghana is fast becoming the go-to green destination in West Africa. The ‘Green Ghana Project’ is a prime example, aiming to enhance biodiversity while promoting tourism that treads lightly on the earth. This initiative aligns with global trends that prioritise sustainable tourism which not only conserves the environment, but also benefits local communities.

And let’s not forget infrastructure. Infrastructure development is crucial for any nation’s progress, and Ghana is no exception. With grand visions like the Kumasi-Accra railway and the expansion of the Tema Port, Ghana is reimagining infrastructure through the lens of entrepreneurship. These projects are not just about connectivity; they’re about fostering economic growth, creating jobs, and ensuring that the benefits of development are shared equitably. The goal? To build not just roads and ports, but pathways to a sustainable and entrepreneurial future. So, in answer to our earlier question – Ananse would surely give Ghana a nod of approval!

Imagine if Ananse, in all his mischievous wisdom, were to weave the grand tapestry of Ghana’s economy. Would he use threads of gold and cocoa? Or perhaps strands of tech innovation and green energy? What if, in the middle of his weaving, he realised he forgot the most crucial thread of all, entrepreneurship education? Would he panic or would he, in classic Ananse style, craft a clever solution?
The truth is, Ghana’s economic fabric, with its rich blend of tradition, innovation and boundless potential, already has entrepreneurship education interwoven into its very core. It’s the thread that gives the tapestry its vibrancy, strength and direction. As Ghana charts its path forward, the importance of this education cannot be overstated. For the visionaries steering the ship – from policy-makers to educators to industry leaders – the message rings loud and clear: Invest in entrepreneurship education. And just maybe, when the story of Ghana’s unparalleled prosperity is told, Ananse will chuckle and say: “Ah, they didn’t forget the most important thread after all!”
If Ananse were to stroll into a political gathering today with his signature sly grin, he might pose a cheeky question to the politicians: “Do you truly understand the power of weaving together the many threads of Ghana’s potential?” And before they could muster a response, he’d chuckle and answer them: “It’s through entrepreneurship education, of course!” I am quite certain the room would erupt in murmurs, politicians nodding in agreement, albeit a bit sheepishly. And as Ananse makes his exit, he’d likely quip: “Remember, it’s not just about weaving a tapestry; it’s about ensuring every thread shines in its own right!” With a wink and a nod, he’d leave behind a room full of leaders, now with a clearer vision of Ghana’s path to prosperity.

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