1. Identify & deploy resources
Ghana’s material resources are well documented by numerous domestic & international studies. Its human & cultural resources are more difficult to quantify: we know how many Ghanaians there are & our population age profile, but the range & relevance of knowledge & skills, in our rapidly changing economic & cultural environment, are elusive. Our young population is inherently more flexible than if we were older, encountering & adapting more easily to novelty.
Oman Ghana Baako observes a high degree of adaptability, initiative & technological literacy in our youth. Many are unemployed; of those employed, many are working below their skill level & capacity. We therefore identify Ghana’s youth as our primary resource. Their engagement & mobilization promise plentiful capacity to develop our material, intellectual & cultural resources for the common good of all Ghanaian society.
‘Brain Drain’ — loss of Ghanaians, nurtured & educated at home, to real or imagined opportunities outside of Ghana — diminishes Ghana’s human resource. While some might gain valuable qualifications & experience, then return to contribute to Ghanaian society, many expatriates do not return, or do so only in late career or retirement.
Our diaspora is certainly not a total loss to Ghana. Many remit financial support to their families in Ghana, a significant economic input: that money is spent domestically; some is deployed in businesses, creating wealth & employment. The achievements of Ghanaians abroad often reflect well upon Ghanaian culture.
The present government recognises the importance of the Ghanaian Diaspora, maintaining an Office of Diaspora Affairs at the Office of the President & proclaiming 2019 as a Year Of Return. Ghanaians who have hoped or attempted to return individually are discouraged by corrupt practices & arcane bureaucratic requirements; more significant figures are perceived as potential threats to established domestic political & economic positions. Oman Ghana Baako’s program offers an opportunity for collective action by our diaspora, & hope for realising our government’s policy of return.
Unfortunately, our diaspora is deceptively alluring to Ghanaian youth. Media attention is drawn to success in foreign countries; larger numbers labouring below their skill levels remain under-reported. Our youth risk & lose their lives in unsanctioned attempts to reach promised lands; survivors often languish in camps & detention centres. Many are exploited & abused. Ghana is a major source country; the scale of this problem may be under-reported, with some fleeing Ghanaians obscure their place of origin, hoping to avoid forced repatriation.
Many repatriated & voluntary Ghanaian returnees will therefore be relatively unskilled. Oman Ghana Baako represents this component of our human resource, & our unemployed & underemployed at home, as an important resource.
Ghana’s natural wealth includes much under-utilised agricultural land of good quality. Ghana’s towns & cities, its public spaces & built environments, are often littered, untended & in need of renovation. Human settlements flourish where their agricultural hinterland is productive. There is plenty of work to be done. Our young will not flee if there is opportunity at home. Oman Ghana Baako’s program will provide it.
Oman Ghana Baako therefore intends to recruit diasporan support, to tell the real story to Ghanaian youth, discourage them from leaving (except where definite opportunities for study or employment exist) & persuade them that they will be supported & included in our program to develop human & natural resources at home.
Corruption is the practice of demanding or accepting informal payment for access to goods, services & opportunities. Every Ghanaian encounters this, from petty officials & police in the street to the highest officials with whom they have contact in government, business, community organisations, courts, even traditional leaders.
Corruption also takes the form of nepotism. Relatives & friends of incumbents gain preferential access to goods, services & opportunities. This practice is sometimes multi-generational.
In short, those with money &/or contacts come first; those without feel excluded. Youth unemployment & underemployment is high; many see running away as their only hope.
Corruption has existed in all developing societies & has been successfully confronted in those reaching maturity. Subduing corruption; reliable protection for ‘whistle-blowers’; rule of law; safety for residents & investors: these are necessary stages of development through which Ghana is still progressing. Such battles never end. They are necessarily internal but also increasingly global. Oman Ghana Baako will study & implement best practices from historical & contemporary foreign experience, adapting them to the specifics of Ghanaian culture & tradition.
Corruption is a disorder of governance. Governance is broader than government, including also markets, business, civil organisations (churches, clubs, cooperatives, charities, NGOs like Oman Ghana Baako) & semi-autonomous institutions like schools & universities.
Oman Ghana Baako intends to work with government to develop & implement civic education throughout Ghanaian society. We will produce modules for inclusion in school curricula; others for delivery in workplace training; others for delivery via print, radio & television; on-line versions accessible to all at any time; our speakers will be available for interview & public speaking.
People need to recognise, refuse & report corruption wherever they encounter it. They can do this only when they learn that many ‘normal’ practises are actually corrupt; that refusal will not produce disadvantage for themselves or their families; that reporting (‘whistleblowing’) will be protected & acted upon.
Because many instances of corruption are within government, receiving, recording & investigating must be functions of an independent statutory body reporting directly to Parliament & Local Government.
Protection & action (enforcement of law) are government responsibilities. Timely & thorough execution will be requirements of any contractual relationship between Oman Ghana Baako & governments.
To work with government, Oman Ghana Baako will develop its negotiating resources, products & delivery processes to align with both national & local government structures as they now exist & will evolve. We must work at the level on which decisions are made; we must be accountable to the people affected by those decisions as we seek to reform them.
Oman Ghana Baako reserves the right & asserts its obligation to implement the civic education aspects of its program independently. We understand that access to schools, workplaces, media & community fora will not always be welcomed. Corruption is deeply entrenched; it has access to power, authority & resources.
Social Services (entitlements)
Lifetime assurance of access to basic social entitlements is the core of our Oman Ghana Baako program.
Society is a broad concept including everyone living in a country (see Glossary). Foreign residents & their families are members of Ghanaian society, if only temporarily.
Oman Ghana Baako asserts that It is fundamental to the health of any society that social entitlements extend to all members.
Oman Ghana Baako’s program assures basic social entitlements: essentials for maintenance of life (personal safety; clean water & food; clothing; shelter; health careÄ) & basic amenities (education; employment; safe, reliable transport, energy & communications infrastructures).
Lifetime program structure:
- Pre-natal maternal health care & education;
- ‘day one’ provisions for newborns & their mothers;
- Registration in a national database;
- Post-natal maternal & child health care;
- Pre-school child care;
- Primary education (common foundations);
- Secondary education (divergent interests);
- Tertiary education (university, technical, skilled);
- Pre-employment support (internships, apprenticeships);
- Continuing education & training (working life);
- Accommodation (social housing);
- Finance (living, entrepreneurship);
- Retirement pension;
- Elderly in-home & institutional care;
- Funeral plan.
Pre-natal maternal health care & education enable:
- detection of foetal abnormalities & provision of appropriate advice to mothers;
- detection of health problems during pregnancy that might threaten healthy delivery or maternal safety;
- mothers to know what to do (exercise, nutrition) & what to avoid (alcohol & other drugs); what to expect during pregnancy, delivery & immediately after.
‘Day one’ provisions are simply a package of goods & information to meet the immediate needs of mothers & their babies after delivery. These will be sufficient to last until first contact with post-natal care services.
Registration in a national database is an administrative mechanism to ensure delivery of social entitlements throughout life. Its purpose is to ensure inclusion, not to exclude those not entitled; all members of society are entitled & included. This database will serve all identification purposes throughout life.
Post-natal maternal & child health care enable early detection & treatment of developmental abnormalities, ensure that babies gain weight & thrive, are vaccinated & remain healthy until primary education begins.
Pre-school child care provides children with non-sibling contact. They learn to how to play & cooperate; how to be content while apart from their parent(s). Child care enables parent(s) to participate in the workforce & to maintain social contact with other adults.
Primary education provides common foundational experiences & skills. Children learn reading, writing & numeracy; more sophisticated play & cooperation; how to imagine, express, initiate & contribute; discovery & differentiation (not conformity).
This & later stages of education are being transformed by emerging technologies. Teachers will gradually cease to deliver curricula, becoming consultative mentors of students’ experience of exploration, discovery, collaboration & creativity. Study may still require resources at specific locations but will move beyond classrooms.
Secondary education enables development of divergent, specialised interests. Students pursue subjects in combinations that suit their currently preferred future social roles: economic, civic & domestic. It is important that these preferences are students’ own & that flexibility is retained as they are modified by experience.
Tertiary education enables full development of students’ interests to the limit of their capacities & ambition. These will include academic, technical & practical skills in whichever combinations are required for students’ ultimate social roles. Engineering, for instance, requires skills in maths, materials & machining.
Too many Ghanaian graduates work menially, at home & abroad. Ghana loses the value of its investment in human resources when their skills are not fully deployed.
Pre-employment support might be arranged by graduating institutions, a government service or commercial contractors. What matters is that some accountable organisation provides it effectively, assuring young Ghanaians leaving full-time study of equitable access to meaningful occupations aligned with their capabilities & interests, through work placements, internships, apprenticeships & the like.
Continuing education & training throughout working life will be increasingly necessary, & therefore an entitlement, because work is changing ever more rapidly in response to technological developments. This will accelerate; it will not stop.
Accommodation is essential for personal security, as a basis for family life & all forms of social participation. All are entitled to a secure beginning. There is no reason for social housing to be uniform or inferior; cooperatives operating on local, community project scales can achieve diverse, high quality accommodation at reduced cost. With assured access to social finance some residents will choose private ownership, while others will prefer lease or rental tenancy.
Finance for living & entrepreneurship enables young Ghanaians to provide personal & family amenity, & to implement business plans, paid over time.
These are the roles of banks & may well be undertaken by them, but access must be assured rather than privileged. Community credit systems at all scales might supplement commercial banking which must never be allowed to displace or exclude community capital raising, including ‘crowd funding’.
Retirement pensions must be funded by lifetime capital accumulation for two reasons:
- Ghana has a young population now but by late this century will have completed its demographic transition to a (very large) stable number. At that point the population will be aging. Pensioners will gradually become a larger portion of the whole. If their pensions are unfunded (by capital accumulation) they will become an unsustainable burden in recurrent expenditures;
- Capital accumulated to fund pensions must be invested somewhere. It will provide a very large pool of finance for infrastructure investment, including housing. Prudent management will be essential because large amounts of capital attract corrupt intentions. There must be insurmountable legal obstacles to using pension capital for government or commercial recurrent expenditures. If not, governments would be tempted to run pension funds as a giant ponzi scheme, with ultimately disastrous results.
Elderly in-home & institutional care will be increasingly necessary as life expectancy continues to rise. Most old people can remain in their own homes or those of their descendants, with only a minority requiring institutional care. This can be optimised by provision of in-home support services which are much less expensive.
Funeral plans ensure that lives end with dignity. This matters to the elderly as the end of life approaches (‘though not when deceased). Unfunded funeral costs fall heavily on families. While dignified disposal is important for survivors & society in general, Ghanaian & international media express concern that adherence to tradition leads Ghanaians to spend excessively on funerals.,
Ghanaian self-belief & performance, enabled by minimizing corruption & assuring basic lifetime social entitlements, will be inspired by a small number of well-publicised, signature projects. It is essential that these provide demonstrable positive returns on public investment; that they express style & imagination with which Ghanaians identify & by which Ghana will be identified globally.
Monumental buildings — statues, cathedrals, flourishes of urban design — will not serve these purposes effectively.
Oman Ghana Baako proposes to implement one or more ‘smart city’ projects, to be located competitively, where regional economic hubs exist or may be formed. Their purpose will be to demonstrate that adoption of emerging technologies in all aspects of human settlement is affordable, effective & efficient. Inputs (food, water, energy, information) & outputs (waste, industrial, intellectual & cultural products) can be circularised — that is, externalities can be incorporated — while human economic, civic & domestic activity is more equitable & democratised.
Ghanaians will want to live in these communities & to develop more of them, because they are more viable & better places to live than conventionally managed settlements. Existing communities will adopt these demonstrably superior systems for pragmatic reasons; clean, well-serviced human settlements, on any scale, are sources of pride.
Ghanaians will take pride in their achievements & foreign observers acknowledge them.
Oman Ghana Baako is not opposed to private wealth; we are opposed to poverty, exclusion & loss of hope. Our program to confront corruption, employ human & physical resources, & assure basic social entitlements will eliminate poverty, include everyone, & enable youth to believe in their own potential at home.
Liberation from corrupt imposts will provide substantial financial relief to ordinary Ghanaians: they will pay only legitimate costs for goods & services; they will have new access to goods & services for which they have previously been unable to pay corruptly inflated costs.
Those corruptly exploiting control over access to goods, services & opportunities will lose income, in some cases large, even very large amounts. Since corrupt gains are untaxed, there will be no direct loss to revenue. Taxes recovered on expenditure (VAT) will increase because less wealthy people, to whom corrupt payments are effectively redistributed (by not having to pay them), spend a higher proportion of their incomes in the legitimate domestic economy.
Some portion of corrupt payments, currently made in lieu of, or to avoid, legitimate fees & taxes will now accrue to revenue.
Most significantly, corruption severely depresses economic activity by several mechanisms:
- it increases the cost of doing business;
- it diverts domestic funds from productive investment & payments to labour, reducing employment;
- it discourages foreign investment.
Ironically, by reflating economic activity, reduced corruption will inevitably increase economic disparity on some measures: while ordinary Ghanaians will gain significantly, our producers & businesses will gain still more. Tax policy must encourage domestic reinvestment to amplify those gains.
Ghana’s culture of corruption encourages ordinary people to avoid legitimate taxation by under-reporting & non-compliance, cash payments for services & the like. Corruption is ‘in the mind’; it becomes an entrenched anti-social disposition. Assurance of basic social entitlements & fair taxation policies, uniformly enforced, will gradually transform & displace this culture.
Less corruption will therefore produce more revenue, through a range of cultural & economic effects, enabling Ghana to fund employment programs & basic social entitlements for all. The formally employed pay taxes & spend their incomes within Ghana, generating further economic activity & revenue.
Reducing corruption while increasing employment & assuring social entitlements will reduce economic disparity, improving social cohesion & political stability.
Role of Ghanaian diaspora
Oman Ghana Baako hopes to secure the intellectual, moral & financial support of its diaspora for our program, Ghana Can Be Better & to encourage those who are able, to return to Ghana before retirement from public or commercial life, bringing & sharing their experience & knowledge.
The number of Ghanaians living in foreign countries varies over time & depending upon who is counted. It almost certainly exceeds one million (about 4% = 1 in every 25 of our population). About one quarter of this number live in USA alone. Many of these are educated young people, accepting or seeking opportunities for themselves & their families that they believe, until now rightly, are not available at home.
Oman Ghana Baako seeks to change this by improving opportunities for youth at home. Those who accept career opportunities abroad must always be free to do so; those who leave merely in the hope that ‘the grass is greener’ in Europe or elsewhere must be encouraged & enabled to meet their needs at home, to contribute to Ghanaian society. One either builds another nation or builds one’s own.
Oman Ghana Baako recognises that many of Ghana’s million or so expatriates contribute substantially to their families & communities at home. By recruiting our diaspora, we anticipate that significant numbers will inform & engage their families & communities in support of our program.
Oman Ghana Baako intends to seek funding from international institutions & aid agencies. We will apply for grants & recurrent commitments on the strength of our program quality & financial integrity. Grants are increasingly allocated on a ‘bang for buck’ basis; donors need assurance that funds cannot be diverted at any stage by individual or systemic corruption. This requires meticulous accounting & rigorous, credible independent auditing.
As human & financial resources become available, Oman Ghana Baako will account for allocations to key areas of its program:
- identification & commitment of material, human & cultural resources to national development. This will require negotiation with national & local government & other current stake-holders;
- production & delivery of civic education content to confront corruption. Where possible, this will be done in association with government & state institutions;
- specification of mechanisms to assure provision of basic social entitlements (these entitlements, ‘though not their delivery mechanisms, are largely covered by Millennium Development Goals);
- specification, drawing on international best practice, of mechanisms to deliver Oman Ghana Baako’s program of aspirational life-time social service entitlements (from pre-natal to funeral);
- specification of viable, inspirational signature projects, including but not limited to, ‘smart-cities’.
Oman Ghana Baako will publish action plans, in advance of commitment, including measurable targets for both progress & completion of these key areas.
Oman Ghana Baako actions plans will include time-scale estimates. These will be based initially on three-year plans indicating financial patterns & trends, actual & projected, based on our own data, government, academic & international sources.
Oman Ghana Baako will continuously monitor & review progress on current action plans.
Oman Ghana Baako action plans will define accountability for budgets & outcomes in each key area.
Oman Ghana Baako’s opening assertion is that Ghana is underdeveloped, despite abundant natural & human resources. Government & international measures overwhelmingly support this. Why is it so?
By 2017 Ghana ranked 137 out of more than 180 countries in per capita purchasing power (GDP-PPP; both IMF & World Bank). Historical comparison figures are hard to find & contestable; even so, at Independence, Ghana was compared with countries like China, South Korea & Singapore, all far wealthier today. Oman Ghana Baako asserts that we can learn from these successful models. Governance reform & foreign investment partnerships will enable Ghana’s path to social & economic development.
Clearly a series of post-colonial governments & constitutions have failed to realise hopes & promises. Oman Ghana Baako accepts that in all cases, even while governments, institutions of state, commerce & civic life succumbed to corruption to varying degrees, initial intentions were good. There is no systemic, intentional rapacity or plunder. Even through its coups, Ghana has never been at risk of state failure.
Inevitably, each government inherited & was conditioned by political, economic & social history. Constitutional design & state institutional structures at independence & after coups could not be forged anew; they were drawn from colonial & contemporary models, modified to Ghana’s requirements & enacted in good faith. This has arguably been a progressive process.
A similar process can be observed in ideology. Like Nehru’s India & some other countries that achieved independence from Britain in the years after WW2, Nkrumah’s government adopted a Fabian Socialist ideology & economic model. Much was achieved but in both cases population & its needs accumulated faster than solutions; that process is still accelerating. The model was inherently inefficient, contested & inconsistently applied, distorting resource allocation & retarding development. Later governments brought some reforms; inefficiencies in administration & markets persist & are now being addressed.
These are problems of structure, not of goodwill. Other structural problems, such as tribal & linguistic sectionalism, also persist despite urbanisation & education. Each is a product of entrenched, culturally normalised & hence almost invisible corrupt use of power & resources; each also creates opportunities for those abuses to continue.
Whatever its cause & ability to persist, Oman Ghana Baako asserts that corruption is everywhere, for all to see, & that it acts in three ways to retard social & economic development:
· directly as a brake on economic activity, a heavy informal tax on everything;
· discourages Ghanaians from believing & investing in themselves & their future;
· discourages foreign investors from believing in future profit.
This is particularly onerous for the young, many of whom, for lack of opportunities at home, dream of foreign lands; some die trying to reach them.
Oman Ghana Baako observes that former European colonial powers, & some former colonies like the USA & China (a multitude of ‘concessions’), have all experienced long periods of entrenched corruption & sustained legal & even revolutionary struggles against it. These have been partly successful. The battle never ends; corruption becomes both covert & transnational. Even so, standards of governance, as reflected in Transparency International country reports, correspond with historical stages of social & economic development.
Ghana has this same ‘chicken & egg’ problem: corruption retards development; development overcomes corruption. Oman Ghana Baako’s Program, Ghana Can Be Better, therefore confronts corruption throughout society while identifying resources, developing lifetime universal social services, diminishing economic disparity & keeping our precious young engaged at home while inspiring them with possibility. In the end, ‘the broom is stronger than the broom stick’.
Oman Ghana Baako asserts that it is essential to the health & development of society that its program applies to the whole of society. It must be inclusive rather than limited to one or more tribal or national identities; it must apply to all residents rather than only citizens.
Oman Ghana Baako’s Program Ghana Can Be Better is therefore a social rather than national (or nationalist) undertaking. In the same spirit of inclusion, it seeks to engage & attract the support of our Ghanaian diaspora as well as Ghanaian domestic society.