This evening, I am asking why? Why is it that no Ghanaian bank has crossed the boundary and established in other African countries or the UK, Europe, Asia?
But banks from Nigeria, South Africa, France, etc have established in Ghana?
Why is it that we cannot name indigenous Ghanaian private sector companies that have been in business successfully for more than 50 years?
Why do we prefer state-owned or foreign-owned to Ghanaian owned? We can’t allow our neighbours or school mates or “friends” to succeed?
Why is it that when a Ghanaian company faces challenges, the answer is close it, make noise and disgrace the owners? Aren’t challenges meant to be solved?
And we wonder why we continue to import everything? And wonder why the Cedi cannot match the pound or euro or dollar?
Why do we think that Dankote, Elumelu, Buffet, J P Morgan, Bill Gates did not face challenges or make mistakes on the way up? What if their companies had been vilified and closed when problems showed up?
So what if we stopped using the Cedi every time it lost value significantly against the dollar? What would we do?
And what if we banned political parties every time they lost an election? What would happen to NPP and NDC?
Why do we love sweet words, and those who promise “milk and honey”, no losses, no hard work, no problem and instant wealth yet live in these difficult conditions?
Why… Part Two
And as if I didn’t know it would happen, many people jumped straight to politics to respond to my Part One Comments. And got personal straight away.
Why do we believe that politics will define everything?
Shouldn’t it be that someone accomplished something in life and then gets involved in politics to use that experience for the good of the nation?
Why do we believe that we should get into government because it is the best place to go and get quick, easy money and become rich?
Why do some politicians think that way and voters too? How can a people prosper with that sort of thinking? So let’s leave politics behind here.
Why should we personalize everything? A friend tells me Ghanaians don’t want to solve anything. They like to talk about problems with vim. Especially specific people’s problems. So always, it is who we can find to blame. Once we find someone to own the problem, we leave and go to another one. A deadly game of blame shame, destroy because “if I can’t do it, neither should you”.
Why is it that many are happy, really happy to find that someone is facing challenges or is experiencing problems? Then it is, “we knew he couldn’t do it!”
Recently, someone met a Ghanaian who has been in the news lately. Her business had collapsed. Or so it was reported. This person couldn’t believe that the business was still running and that the lady was working to bring it back to full strength. Why are there so many “I told you he/she couldn’t do it” people in Ghana?
I have been studying the history of entrepreneurship in Ghana. Many want to be wealthy but don’t want the problems that come with starting and running a business. So they are perpetually looking for the “easiest way. But there is never an easy way. At first sight of real challenges, our businesses tend to collapse. In part because those who should help, give up and are rather quick to help in burying it.
Why don’t we allow patience to sit with us for a while? So we can allow newly established businesses time to find their feet. So when challenges come our entrepreneurs can look for help and come back stronger and better.
Why is it that since independence, many in government work to gather business opportunities for themselves instead of looking out for the private sector people out there to help?
We have learnt to say “good governance” as if it was just discovered in Ghana. So now every company with problems is saddled with “bad governance practices”.
What about the preferences of our market, harsh implementation of regulations whenever we choose to wake up to them, the economic environment and sometimes the failure of the people employed. Good governance also includes strong problem-solving policies and practices.
Why do we have many award schemes in Ghana? Best this, best that? So we know something “good” when we see it. We should know that “problem” is always chasing after “good”. Failure happens. But “problem” and “failure” can be overcome. So we cannot give up when we see people or businesses experiencing problems.
Why do we pretend that we have never heard, “when the going gets tough, the tough get going”, or “good leaders show up in bad times”?
I have been giving lectures on entrepreneurship, how to start and run a business including how to deal with failure. So I know that there are successful entrepreneurs out there trying to achieve long term successes so that their businesses can live beyond their lifetimes.
I know that since independence we have preferred state-owned and foreign-owned to private indigenous Ghanaian-owned. For some of our people, this attitude has been to prevent our own from being more successful than they are; for some politicians, it is to remove the threat that some individuals may use their wealth to fund their opponents. What a shame.
Why are we wondering what is happening to the Cedi? Forget the politics. Study what is happening in the private sector – that is where the matter can be resolved and managed. When we try to produce rice, TVs, fruit juice, cars, technology solutions etc. here in Ghana, we are considered too ambitious. When we falter, there is no hand to lift us up. Who will lift the Cedi up and keep up high? If not the Ghanaian entrepreneurs then who?
I have often told the story of how JP Morgan and his Associates helped to bail America out of the Great Depression. If they were not strong, they could not have helped their country. And in their lives, they made many mistakes but got chances to take corrective action. So their names live on.
Why is it that some public sector officials do not understand that they are in their positions to help, strengthen, guide, support?
I am not done. This is lent. And there is more to come. Also, some have decided that they will respond to anything I write with insults, threats and personal attacks.
I am used to accepting the bad with the good. I am not looking for anything for myself here. I just want one or two people to decide to support one or two Ghanaian enterprises to become long term successes through thick and thin. That’s all.
Dr.Papa Kwesi Nduom writes