Ghana is incredibly endowed with an impressive assortment of economic resources that can easily be exploited to develop the country into a very prosperous nation. However, Ghana is numbered among the poorest nations of the world. It’s hard to understand why the second largest producer of Gold in Africa is soliciting a bailout from the International Monetary Fund (IMF)! It’s time for Ghana to shed the “third world” label and rise to its real economic potential.
Ghana, a country that often relies on foreign aid, is the same one that was once known as the Gold Coast, because the land abounded with gold, just like the name suggests. The colonization of the Gold Coast, according to both recorded history and oral tradition, was driven mainly by a gold rush. There is still an awful lot of gold in modern Ghana. And make no mistake about it, the gold rush is still on. In some places, one doesn’t even need to sink a shaft before extracting gold!
Regrettably, the gold industry in Ghana is still in the hands of foreign mining companies that take the lion’s share of the profits.
Obviously, the required capital for mineral exploitation, like gold mining equipment, is not easy to acquire. However, six decades of independence is enough time for our scientists, metallurgists, engineers, etc., to research, develop, test, and implement the technology suitable for mining in Ghana, in my opinion. That is if we had the ambition to do so.
Like mining, almost every other economic sector in Ghana is performing below par. Cocoa, for example, is a cash cow that the Ghana Cocoa Board doesn’t seem to be taking full advantage of. With chocolate and other cocoa products in high demand all over the world and cocoa beans from Ghana considered to be of a first-class quality on the world markets, the country could generate far more revenue from cocoa than it is getting now. As in the case with gold, cocoa fetches far much more money for the economies that sell the finished product, compared with Ghana’s gain from the production of the raw material.
Ghana has a fantastic potential for economic greatness: mineral and agricultural wealth, petroleum, hydroelectric power, a formidable workforce, etc. There are countries around the globe, including so-called first world countries, that do not possess even a tiny fraction of our natural resources, and yet they have a more buoyant economy, using the Ghana GDP as a yardstick.
So the question is: how can Ghana, a potentially wealthy country, struggle with poverty and underdevelopment? Just three regions - Ashanti, Eastern, and Central - have enough gold deposits to stimulate an economic boom that can support the entire population of Ghana.
The main reason can be summed up by Dr. Kwegyir Aggrey’s well-known anecdote about the eagle who, having being raised together with chickens, lived by scratching around with other chicks, without even a dream of flying. After some time, and not without relentless persuasion, the eagle finally agreed to be taken to the summit of a cliff, high above in the sky, to take up a flying challenge.
The brightness of the sun, the beauty of the skies, and panoramic view of the earth provided just the right inspiration for the hitherto tamed eagle. With unlimited confidence, it dived from the top of the cliff, flapped its wings, and glided effortlessly through the sky, never again to rub shoulders with chickens on the ground.
It’s time for Ghana to abandon the “chicken mentality” and soar like the eagle that she truly is. The “Gold Coast” should not be regarded as "third world" or "developing country," with all the gold, cocoa, and other resources waiting to be exploited for the economic benefit of the nation!
Dr. Aggrey is reminding us: “You are not a chick, Ghana, and you don’t belong on the ground. You are an eagle; you belong in the skies. So fly Ghana, fly!!”
Written by: Theo Acquah
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