In January 2017, the majority of the people of Ghana welcomed Nana Akufo-Addo as the Fifth of the 4th Republic with optimism that I have never witnessed all my life. To these people, Nana and the NPP held the magic wand to overturn the hardship of Ghanaians and make life easier, deal with the canker called corruption and put the nation on the right track.
These expectations were instigated largely by mouth-watering and ambitious promises made during the campaign period and if the people voted for it, then their expectation was based on reasonable grounds.
This same time last year, I did a review of the government’s first year in office and rated them 61% for their first year in office. This was based on analyses of ten key initiatives undertaken in the first year and management of certain sectors. Though I tried to be as honest as possible, I was very charitable in giving that rating because I felt it was too early to be overly critical. I felt the early signs were positive and Nana had shown real commitment to making a difference.
Two years down the line, I think it is fair to give a completely critical review because every serious government should settle and come to perfect terms with the full rudiment of office.
In this year’s, like last 2017 review, the government has been assessed in the key areas and rated 51.3%, dropping by almost 10 percentage points from last year.
The areas of assessment are Economy, Corruption, Digitalization, Free SHS, Health, Creation of New Regions, Planting for Food and Jobs, Security, Energy and Sports.
The zeal and Commitment of Nana Addo’s government towards making this nation better is apparent for all to see. It will not be farfetched to suggest that perhaps, no government in the 4th Republic’s history has tried doing so many things over so short a period of time (two years) as Nana Addo’s government.
The many initiatives give government communicators a lot to talk about and so it didn’t come as a surprise when the Vice President indicated that indeed, they have chalked over forty achievements.
The quest to do many things over a short period of time may be good for electioneering purposes but the painful reality is that the rush in the implementation of most of these policies has adversely affected they impact they have made thus far.
Policies like Free SHS, NAPCO are good but it is clear from the challenges facing these programs that they were not well thought through before implementation because, with broader consultation, we could have prepared for those challenges that emerged during implementation.
In the area of digitalisation, the government was given 75% which was the highest of any sector because The Digital Port System, Ghana Post GPS, Digitalized Passport and Drivers Licence acquisition processes, if well implemented will be key to the development of this nation.
However, I believe that sensitization on the use of the Digital Address System has been quite poor and affected the benefit we can derive from the system as a nation. Overall though, the commitment towards going digital is commendable because it is the platform on which many nations develop and we cannot do it differently.
Generally, 2018 was a very difficult year due to the shake-up in the financial sector, this resulted in job loses, the decline in lending to the private sector.
Add these to the increase in import duties and what we have is a year to forget as far as the private sector is concerned
I cannot say with certainty if the future is bright but can only hope that it is indeed bright because we cannot relive 2018: the government cannot afford it.
Details as to how the 51.3% was arrived at has been provided.
Economy = 51%
Last year, I rated the government’s achievement in terms of economic management 58%. The reason was down to the stability of our currency, reduction in interest rate and generally improved key economic indicator. The expectation for 2018 was to see the said gains reflect in the lives of Ghanaians, improvement in the lot of the private sector and general ease of doing business. Unfortunately, 2018 saw a not so encouraging decline in the Cedi to the Dollar (which I predicted in the said report), collapse and consolation of banks.
The reforms in the banking sector will go down as the most radical in the history of Banking in Ghana and has had its rippled effect on the nation. Such a shakeup though a necessary evil will automatically affect investor confidence and hence cause a direct decline in foreign direct investment. In such times, a country depends largely on local investors to deal with the resulting distress.
Unfortunately, the reforms came with the recapitalisation and that automatically affected lending to the private sector.
Additionally, everything around the private businessman saw an increase and that also badly affected local businesses. I can say for a fact, that after 20 years in the Real Estate sector, 2018 was the worst year, a further low from 2017 that we prayed never to repeat itself.
Back to the banking sector, I will not fault any administration for trying to apply the laws of a sector on industry players. I believe in 100% adherence to standards and also believe that it takes a forward-thinking leadership to insist on the religious application of such standards.
I, however, feel that some of the fallen banks could equally fault the government for their crises. Government’s indebtedness to contractors and other businesses and what looks like deliberate refusal to pay these debts automatically affect banks because most businesses take loans in anticipation of repayments to repay such loans.
In 2018, I personally went through a similar treatment from a state institution that owes me and it did have a negative effect on my business. Supposing I borrowed from my bankers, I’d have struggled to repay on time and you know how it can affect these banks.
The politicisation of debt repayment by the new government due to the nature of our politics doesn’t help local businesses and creates a lot of difficulties for most businesses in the first and second year of every new government.
Even debt repayment is politicised in this country and we do it without knowing that it is going to have a rippled effect on businesses and hence lead to job loses.
This is an area of our politics that needs to be addressed because what we end up with are seasonal businesses that rise and fall with a change in government. A lot goes into strengthening banks and ensuring growth when government fails his part of the bargain, not many would survive.
I also believe that raising the minimum capital by over 250% was too radical and automatically made it impossible for some banks to survive. We cannot operate a system that treats all banks equally, we will end up collapsing the local banks and have a banking system largely controlled by foreigners.
As long as our financial sector is controlled by foreign companies, we cannot have a stable and thriving economy because capital flight is going to be the order of the day. Raise the minimum capital to Two billion Dollars and Banks like Ecobank and Barkleys will survive. Can own GCB survive such a raise? The answer is no. No wonder we have always struggled to stabilize our currency
It is important we put measures in place to localise the sector and reduce the politics in that sector. I believe that a bank like Unibank should have survived if not for politics, we need to check this else we will move in circles as a people.
The depreciation of our Cedi at a time when much physical infrastructure isn’t taking place is also worrying. What will happen when the government starts implementing the massive infrastructural projects promised in the 2019 budget? We need to find answers to these looming questions as soon as possible or else we will see the Cedi hitting 6 Cedis to the Dollar by January 2020
On the recapitalisation, I believe it is about time we have grades in banks and allot minimum capital based on their ratings. All banks are not the same, all depositors are not the same. We can have Grade A, B, C banks and have a clear-cut definition of who saves where, how much can be withdrawn in which category of bank and maximum amount accessible by loan for each category.
Last year when I decided to open an account with Bank of America, I was asked to get a pass from a smaller bank to indicate that I have risen through the banking rank. This is one way we can protect our local players in the banking sector.
Also, any kind of increment above 50% is to me unwise and places unnecessary pressure on those it applies. Imagine operating a business with Thousand Two Hundred Ghana Cedis and suddenly required to raise a capital of Four Thousand Ghana Cedis or lose your business, it doesn’t make sense. This is what the recapitalisation is all about.
Perceived corruptions informed by allegations from the NPP when in opposition played a key role in the electoral misfortunes of Mahama’s NDC. To many Ghanaians, change was needed to bring the alleged evil men to book and dignity restored in government. In what was seen as an attempt to walk the talk, the Special Prosecutor’s Office was instituted and what was to many the final jigsaw to the puzzle, self-acclaimed citizens vigilante, Mr Martin Amidu was appointed to oversee to this all-important journey.
A year on and nothing has happened, his most recent news was to decry the lack of funding for the office.
Today, that office is seen as a smokescreen with the government commitment in the fight against corruption becoming questionable by the day. Add this to numerous allegations treated as passing wind and it is fair to say that this government’s lowest point is perhaps in this area
With over a hundred and twenty million budgeted for the office this year, we would want to see major strides made. For now, though, it is fair to suggest that Nana’s government has underperformed considerably in this area.
In view of this, I will give government 32% for doing almost nothing in 2018 to deal with corruption and for defraying the hope of Ghanaians with the lack of funding to the Special Prosecutors office until Mr Martin Amidu’s lamentation.
The world is moving very fast and this fast-paced movement is driven by ICT. Ignore it and you are going to be left behind. Since this government took office, there has been a conscious effort to digitalise key sectors and that to me is very commendable.
The Digital Port System, Digital Address System, Digitalised Passport and Drivers License Acquisition are a key indicator of government’s commitment to making technology count in the management of this nation. That said, a lot needs to be done to make the most of these innovations. Inconsistent Internet quality sometimes interrupts the Digital Port System and that can be quite frustrating and should be checked.
I also believe that importers don’t really get a feel of the system because each step of the way, you have to deal with an agent who only presents papers. In its current stage, it appears the system was made for the agents and not the importers. The solution here is to put measures in place to reduce the need for middlemen when importing. Also, more internet service providers should be brought on board to ensure that when one or two services encounter problems, there is a back-up to fall on.
You cannot have the full benefit of even the brightest light when it is hidden behind an object. This is what I make of the Digital Address System: it is a great initiative but one that is being underutilized due to inadequate public education to get the citizenry to make use of it. We used TAX payer’s money to get this system, we have to make good use of it and this is only possible if the majority of the people are well informed about its’ use. If we can spend millions to acquire it, we must be willing to spend to get the people to use it.
Overall, the signs are positive, the government want to render services in an efficient manner and hence see technology as the way to go.
Our duty is to make the systems work efficiently and make the improvement in the ease of doing business with government visibly easy.
I will score them 75% on the effort and hope that the shortfalls are addressed sooner than later.
FREE SHS = 52%
Every Ghanaian needs education, every Ghanaian deserves to be educated, however, the cost in terms of money: it is imperative on us as a nation to pursue such an agenda. This is why I am in principle for the free education from Basic to Secondary School.
That said, even the best thing done the wrong way will have a detrimental effect. In pursuing such a policy, it is important to do the needful before any extra addition. The problem with Free SH is the addition of Free Boarding School and free meals for students.
All over the world, Free Educations goes without Boarding and meals because that is the primary responsibility of parents. The free boarding included placed a lot of pressure on the schools because most parents, including those who’d have opted for day, insisted on getting their children into boarding. This is why there was a massive increase in the problem of infrastructure and hence the double track system. If anything exposed the poor and somewhat populist implementation of the program, it is the double track system.
Though government want to tout it an innovative solution to a problem, it is clear that again, the concept was wholly lifted from other countries without taking into consideration measures those countries put in place to ensure that during breaks, students are engaged meaningfully.
In our case, we could have avoided it if the government made a conscious effort to involve the private sector. The manner the policy has been implemented discourages private investment into secondary education and increases the government’s burden with the provision of infrastructure.
I believe that a proper collaboration with the private schools would have solved the problems with infrastructure because even as some of our kids await their turn to go to school, the classrooms of the private man remain empty. Secondary education has never been in shambles like we have today and it is down to the bad implementation of an otherwise good program.
Overall, it is a good policy and it is incumbent on us to work on the shortcomings. My only problems are the over protection of the program from scrutiny, every critical opinion is seen as an opposing opinion and that is why we have not been able to engage in proper dialogue to find a lasting solution to the problems that have bedevilled the program.
The government must find a way to involve private schools and redefine the program to exclude boarding and feeding.
Additionally, I believe if we are looking at 100% entry into senior secondary school, then it is clear that it is about time we do away with the BECE and create a direct entry from Junior High to Senior High. To do this, I suggested in an interview last year that we need to expand existing government schools at the basic level and include Senior High programs in the said schools. This will deal with the issue of long travels for SHS that necessitates parents to put their kids in boarding houses.
I have a full proposal on this that will be sent to the Education Ministry later this year.
EMPLOYMENT = 49%
I like the idea that governments want to create jobs for our university graduate, unemployment is a major security threat to this nation and so any effort to address it is worthy of commendation. In view of this, I like the Nation Builder’s Corp concept. I, however, believe in sustainable jobs and this is the issue I have with NABCO.#
In its current form, NABCO looks at simply getting some unemployed graduates paid regardless of what they offer. I am saying this because even as at today, most of the beneficiaries are getting paid without being posted. Those posted are taken into sectors that are already chocked.
We can have better use of tax payer’s money and that to me is to put them into sustainable ventures and make their employment rather permanent. For instance, let’s revive state farms, let’s build an industry around this and use NABCO beneficiaries to manage and develop it.
This to me will give us food security, make Ghana a food hub and earn export on the excesses while creating permanent jobs for our graduate. We have issues with research in this country and it is affecting planning, we can use NABCO beneficiaries to address this challenge because research is money. In short, we should look at using NABCO to address key developmental shortfalls that have profit making capacity. This would mean that after three years, we wouldn’t have to lay them off.
What happens to the beneficiaries after their contracts have expired, are they not going to add to the unemployed list and start agitating again? In view of this, if we have a program to engage and pay them, then we should look at creating permanent jobs for them.
That said, the government cannot provide the jobs needed for our unemployed graduate, the answer is creating the enabling environment for private businesses to thrive and absorb the unemployed.
Some of the monies for the unsustainable socially centred government jobs can be invested in private businesses to expand and absorb the unemployed.
The cost of doing business is very high, the Real Estate Industry which is one of our largest employers is dying, until we make it a conscious effort to build the Ghanaian businessman, revamp the construction sector, we will forever have issues of graduate unemployment.
The solution can’t be NABCO unless it is redefined.
SPORTS = 45%
2018 will go down as a very bad year for Ghana sports largely due to happenings at the Ghana Football Association. As the owner of Koans FC, a division two club, the effect on my boys has been very grave and I am tempted to think it cuts across most clubs in this regard. With regards to the reaction to Anas’ famous Number 12, I am of the view that we could have dealt with the culprits while we continued with the game because the wrongs of a few people shouldn’t affect everyone in the sector.
Navigating skilfully to avoid a ban from FIFA is commendable, however.
With the problems with football and the fact that almost everything as far as the local game was concerned ground to a halt, I expected that extra emphasis was going to be placed on other lesser known sports.
If in the name of football other sports are neglected and we have almost a year without football, then it was only expedient to focus on developing these sports. It was not to be as sports across board suffered. The bad year was crowned with the loss of our only international boxing title when Isaac Dogbe lost his second title defence.
That said, boxing was perhaps the only sports that got the nation somewhat exited with well-attended bouts held at the Bukom Boxing Arena.
Sports is business, it is an avenue for creating jobs. Broad investment in sports is an avenue for job creation that should not be overlooked. We have placed so much overemphasis on football that even after almost an entire year without football, we still managed to miss the opportunity to focus on other sports.
2018 was a bad year for sports and for sports and so improvement is a must for us this year.
PLANTING FOR FOOD JOBS = 56%
I have a poultry farm with over a hundred thousand birds and so I was very enthused about The Planting for Food and Jobs Program. This is because I foresaw a direct lift of burden from my shoulder given the program covers rice millet and maize. In 2016, 135kg of maize at Tekyiman dropped as low as Eighty Ghana Cedis, In 2017, due to fall armyworm, prices increased to 120, this year, around the same time, it was sold at Hundred and Twenty Ghana Cedis and lasted for less than three weeks at that price.
We are currently dealing with a shortage like always. I was therefore taken aback when the government informed us that Ghana is now exporting maize to neighbouring countries. When we had plantain in exes, it was clear for all to see and the reduced price isn’t a known secrete. How come a so-called bumper harvest in maize hasn’t resulted in the same or at least sustained availability of maize for more than three weeks? Overall, it is a good policy suffering from many saboteurs along the line of implementation.
In view of this, aside from making inputs available, measures should be put in place to ensure that it gets to the target group.
Additionally, the scope should be expanded to include vegetables especially because with the quality of our land by way of fertility, there is no way we should be importing tomatoes to this country.
I believe that with the right support for our farmers, we have the potential to not only sufficiently feed ourselves but also export.
It is however important that the program is depoliticised and rather create a nonpartisan system to manage and ensure that it is sustained even when governments are changed.
HEALTHCARE = 62
The most topical issue in relation to the health sector was the medical drone which dominated the airwaves at the latter stages of the year. Personally, I believe in efficiency: is the drone going to do more than fixing our roads and making ambulance available in every corner of the country? Is it going to be operated with the use of the internet? What’d happen in areas with bad network? These are questions that need to be answered.
One key plus for this government in 2018 was that the National Health Insurance seems to be seeing some stability. It has been a while since I heard service providers agitating for their money and that is good news for Ghanaians.
Another major health-related issue was UG Medical School. I believe that there was no need for alarm to be raised before the facility would be opened.
By so doing, we incurred an extra cost with some equipment going bad and that is a minus for this government. My verdict on health excludes the Medical Drone because personally I have mixed feeling towards it and lack adequate information on how it is going to function and so will prefer to leave it out for now.
In view of the smooth operation of NHIS, I will give them 58% in the health sector because it is a major program.
ENERGY = 55%,
No plan, no clear cut policy except making money available to make the existing sources working. This is my summary of the government’s contribution as far as energy is concerned. In the context of making power available to the people, I’d say this government has done well aside from the recent power outages which are far from being a disaster.
I am still waiting for a progress report on the early power deal which the government guaranteed with a billion cedis.
As I have said consistently, power is still expensive in this country and therefore until we reduce the cost of generating power, our quest to industrialise is going to suffer because energy alone will ensure that the prices of the products will not be competitive. The problem of local industries have always been their inability to compete with imported goods and so it is incumbent on us to make the cost of production very cheap.
We should begin to look at cheaper alternatives, I have talked about the Pump Storage Power Plant which I believe if proper research is done, can be attached to the Akosombo Dan and ensure that the Dam functions in and out of season and at full capacity.
Archimedes Crew is an option that can help create a dedicated supply for industries. As we speak, we are producing in excess of our peak demand but can’t export due to the high cost of generation.
Our over-reliance on fusil fuel powered plant, which comes with environmental issues due to the emission of carbon monoxide has only come with health implications and expensive power for the people.
In spite of the effort by the government to reduce the cost of energy, it still remains very high,
Add an expensive power to expensive fuel prices and you are going to have an ailing private sector.
Until we resort to cheaper alternative energy, excess generation will mean nothing and the cost will remain unbearable for the people.
Fortunately for us, we have many examples to learn from, all we need is the political will
SECURITY = 34
Security is one area no one expects the current administration to be proud of. Under this government, glaring security concerns have been ignored because they have come in the name of Vigilante Groups that were formed while in opposition.
As we speak, NDC has also established the Hawk to match the various forces in the NPP.
Unfortunately, with a Minister of Defence, Minister of Interior, Minister of National Security, National Security Coordinator, all appointed by this government, the security consciousness to deal with this very visible threat seems to be lacking.
Our president in justification of his record number of appointees challenged Ghanaians to judge based on the output, the truth is: it hasn’t reflected in his appointment in the areas of security.
Armed Robbery is on the increase, the police Patrol team isn’t visible. The earlier we act, the better.
We also have cases of kidnapping to contend with.
One thing our president Nana Addo should know is that no matter how successful his tenure is, unchecked security threat can nullify all the gains.
With the recent Ayawaso by-elections brouhaha still topical, the threat of 2020 has never been clear. Action needs to be taken. So far though, this government has failed in the area of security and it remains a key threat to Nana’s legacy.
Good works are never remembered in the midst of chaos and what we are seeing are signs of many regrettable happenings in the future if they are not nipped in the bud as soon as possible.
My take on the creation of new regions (not rated)
The creation of additional regions with the goal of taking development to some neglected areas is a sign that we have failed in our decentralisation as a nation. As a country, we have chosen to develop though the metropolitan, Municipal District Assembly, to look to dividing the nation into small regions to achieve development is a sign that we failed to make the MMDA system work and I can say on authority that the regions would address the problem. We must learn to address problem head-on instead of responding sentimentally and achieving little in the long-term.
I also believe it is a wrong precedence. People now know that if they can make noise and threaten the politicians with votes, they can have a region, the chiefs would love this, the politicians would love, new region, new regional house of chief representative and what have you.
What we are doing is increasing the cost of governance and decreasing available money for development. You cannot eat your cake and have it, it doesn’t work like that.
What we have to do as a people to bridge the gap of development isn’t by creating new regions but rather prioritising neglected areas. If you divide the Northern Region because some parts have been neglected, you have only maintained the existing disparity and not necessarily bridged the gap.
In a total of 1000 points after 10 sectors were assessed, the government scored 513, making it 51.3% for work done in the first two years. It is my hope that this is built on so that the change promised Ghanaians can really be experienced.
I will also entreat government to do broader consultations before policies are implemented because it is only through this that we can have policies correctly implemented and benefits maximised.
As a citizen, I will continue to support the government of the day with my honest take on how I feel they are doing. These feedbacks are meant to make the government do better for our collective gains because I believe that as a citizen, my business succeeds when the government is successful.
Hopefully, review of 2019 will see the government make a remarkable improvement on what was delivered in 2018.
God bless our homeland Ghana and make our nation great and strong.
The author is the CEO of Koans Group