President Obama came to Ghana to endorse the country’s good democratic process. In the midst of chaos, needless bloodshed, and tainted elections and accompanying violence in Africa, Ghana stands out on the continent as a good example.
But beyond democratic stability, the country also needs economic stability and growth.
In an editorial, ghanabusinessnews.com looked at the possible ripples of President Obama’s visit and wondered if American investors would come into the country to do business.
The Managing Editor of ghanabusinessnews.com posted the editorial on his blog titled Rightup at www.emmanuelwrites.blogspot.com.
In direct response to the question of whether American investors would come and invest in Ghana because President Obama has endorsed the country, a reader sent an email to the editor.
He began by writing, “Came across your blog After Obama’s Ghana visit, would American investors come? and wanted to share some thoughts with you. The short answer is no! And that is because it is not the President’s money that will be invested.
The author of the mail, Ramesh Kanthilal, Spokesperson and Director of Operations for AFREECON. AFREECON is the acronym title for Africa’s Economic Emancipation Conference, it is written on the organisation’s website.
Enumerating further reasons why American investors will not come, he said, African countries, Ghana included, are clueless about how to attract capital–the right kind of capital. Not the exploitative capital that has come from Europe for almost six centuries. If Europe is a good source of capital and ideas for African economies, why are African countries not doing better than they are? After all Europeans have been coming since the 1400s.
On Africa’s leadership he wrote: “African countries are lead by people who would rather “pocket” the people’s money, than invest it in efforts to market their economies and their countries.”
On the foreign missions of African countries abroad, he cited the Ghana Embassy in Washington and asked a question: “Have you ever tried to call the Ghanaian Embassy in Washington?”
“You should try it. It is an illuminating experience. The experience has been a very mixed bag for our team and would not inspire us to want to invest in Ghana”, he said.
“African embassies, as a whole”, he said, “do such a poor job of representing their countries in the arena of marketing the opportunities for investment in their countries, that it is a wonder there is any interest at all.”
He remarks that in an organized environment, chaos is not tolerated. “And the way and manner in which we correspond with the outside world at best, denotes a chaotic existence and at worst demonstrates incompetence of the highest order. There is the image of African countries.”
He argued further that no investor would invest his hard earned money in a place where all you read about is bad news.
He goes on to talk about Africa’s failure to educate Americans about the continent. He said, “in the case of Africa all the countries are in the same boat. Most Americans think Africa is one country because their embassies have failed to do anything about the image of the continent’s countries in the almost 40 years that I am personally aware of.”
Adding “history shows that the drumbeat of bad press and perception has been filtering into the minds of US consumers for more than 100 years–in fact, since the advent of mass media.”
He also blamed Africans for not being willing to put any effort to communicate that they would like U.S investors and what kind they would like? “They are waiting for someone to come and “spoon feed” them the answers,” he said.
He had some advise for the media also. “You and your colleagues in the media”, he said , “are responsible for getting out the word and pressuring leaders to make unselfish decisions.”
Commenting on export data used in doing the analysis in the editorial, he said, “you have to not just talk about the poor export performance and low-level of U.S investments, you have to ask why that is the case? Why is it not better, why have African countries–Ghana included–failed so badly where the Asians seem to be doing so well…why has South Korea come from behind African countries to not just overtake African countries, but to now be in the position where they are playing the role of “teachers” of African leaders?”
He is however hopeful that if the media and everyone else including his organization do their bit the trend could be reversed.
They are therefore organizing the AFREECON business conference at the famous Navy Pier in Chicago, Illinois from October 19 to 21, 2009.
According to the organizers, AFREECON is about sharing knowledge. Knowledge that will assist African countries to build a better “mouse trap” for attracting Foreign Direct Investments and achieving economic independence; as well as knowledge that will enable U.S. companies and entrepreneurs to make well informed decisions about business opportunities in African countries.
Among some of the speakers are Dr. Ian Giddy, Professor of Finance at New York University’s Stern School of Business and a former Director of the International Product Group at Drexel Burnham Lambert; Dr. Vijay Mahajan, who currently holds the John P. Harbin Centennial Chair in Business at McCombs School of Business, University of Texas at Austin; Dr. Dambisa Moyo, economist and author of Dead Aid: Why Aid is Not Working and How There is a Better Way For Africa.
The others are William “Bill” Strickland, President and CEO of Manchester Bidwell Corporation; Dr. Paul Tiyambe Zeleza, Malawian historian, literary critic, novelist, short-story writer and blogger at The Zeleza Post; Dr. John Gazvinian, author of Untapped-The Scramble for Africa’s Oil and Dr. Pompiliu “Pili” Vezariu, Adjunct Fellow at the Center For Strategic & International Studies.
By Emmanuel K. Dogbevi