Wednesday, 26 April 2017

Why Ghana's Environmental Activists Ought To Support President Akufo-Addo

As a committed environmental activist, one hopes that the government of President Akufo-Addo will always be wary of the World Bank. We must never forget that it was the selfsame World Bank that advised Ghana to permit surface gold mining.

Today, as a result of the negative impact of illegal gold mining on the natural environment, we face a water-stressed future; are witnessing land degradation of apocalyptic proportions; and seeing the unfortunate  consequenes of the poisoning of soils, streams, rivers and groundwater nationwide.

And all because decades ago during the 1980s our country followed what has turned out to be very  bad advice given by the World Bank to our leaders then - the Provisional National Defence Council (PNDC) military regime - to permit surface gold mining in Ghana, to boost investment in the sector.

Ghana will prosper only if our leaders are as honest, dynamic, farsighted and committed to the well-being of the people they lead,  as the leaders of the United Arab Emirates are.

Leadership is the key factor to Ghana's future as a prosperous society.

If President Akufo-Addo always remembers the Asantehene's wise counsel that he should never forget that it was to him personally that the mandate to lead Ghana was given by voters, he will turn out to be the greatest leader Ghana has had since President Nkrumah's overthrow in 1966.

And he must follow President Rawlings' example: by calling all his blood relatives to a meeting and warning them that they owe him an obligation not to engage in any corruption - and that if they do, they must not expect the President of the Republic of Ghana to come to their rescue. He will not. Full stop.

President Akufo-Addo's blood relatives  must be made to understand clearly that family ties notwithstanding they will always face the music alone when they mess up.

As Ghana's leader, President Akufo-Addo must  make no distinction between his blood relatives and the rest of the people he leads - when it comes to infractions of Ghana's laws.

It is a philosophy of leadership that worked well for President Rawlings - and it will work well for him too.

This is the first time that Ghana has had a leader whom the whole country is fervently praying to succeed - for all our sake.

Nana Addo must be ruthless with those in his inner circle who would want to ride on his coattails to amass wealth by stealth.

Companies like Apple sit on massive cash mountains (Apple: over US$246.09 billion). And Google sits atop a cash mountain of over  US$75billion.

By abolishing personal income tax, strengthening the security agencies to effectively maintain law and order nationwide, and paying the judiciary very high salaries and super-generous retirement benefits, as well as making Ghana the nation with Africa's lowest corporate tax rates, the wealthiest people from around the world will want live here for part of the year to qualify for permanent resident status.

That will create a boom that will last for decades. Literally. They will build or buy properties here, set up a plethora of businesses, and, best of all, partner Ghanaian entrepreneurs to create jobs galore.

This government must step out of the shadow of conventional economic thinking and focus exclusively on collaborating with those Ghanaian entrepreneurs who are succeeding in the real economy to design policies that will free businesspeople to thrive.

Why tax Ghanaians to build roads, for example, when by inviting bids from around the world for companies to build, own and maintain a network of concrete motorways, and railway lines to all the regional capitals, and not have to pay any taxes on their profits for 35 years, they will rush here to do so - with each one of them being required by law to have Ghanaian partners to qualify to bid?

We have it within our power to be a very prosperous society - if we are creative in our thinking, and, above all, can get rid of our negativity, do away with our unhelpful pull-him-down syndrome, and, worst of all, end our envy of hardworking people who succeed.

God bless a Ghanaian leader who is determined to save what is left of our nation's natural heritage - very valuable natural capital on which we can anchor ecotourism and generate billions of dollars from (Thailand earned over US42 billion in 2016 from over 30 million visitors, incidentally), and create millions of jobs on top of that.

We are definitely better off leaving the gold in the ground.

Akyem Abuakwa is a classic example. It has some of the most beautiful natural environments anywhere on the surface of the planet Earth.

If the Atewa Range is declared a national park and all mining banned from Akyem Abuakwa, it will have a local green economy creating wealth and jobs.

Thank God for a president who is actually intent on stopping galamsey and illegal logging, by deeds, not words. Fantastic.

As a committed environmental activist of many years standing (since I was a precocious 8-year old boy at University Primary School, Kumasi) President Akufo-Addo - but not the NPP - has my full support:  if he sticks to being a pro-business, a natural-heritage-supporting  and incorruptible leader.

And so must every other environmental activist in our homeland Ghana. A pro-Mother Nature and anti-galamsey president of Nkrumah's Ghana is a godsend. God bless, protect and guide him always!

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