Wednesday, July 15, 2009

What does PhD got to do with it? "Credentialism" and Ghana's Development

In the light of the successful change in government after the 2008 elections and Obama’s visit recent to Ghana I get the sense that Ghanaians are ready for the next level. We’ve seen it all, the snail pace, and the slow progress forward with “deliberate speed”, and we want more, faster! The “how” is where we are all stuck.

On my recent trip to Ghana I got the sense that everybody is waiting for something or someone from somewhere (preferably some Western country) to take us to the next level. You often hear “You guys need to come back home and let’s build Ghana”. For me, this suggests that Ghanaians living in Ghana (all 20 million of them) are not up to the task of nation building. That somehow they can’t dream up and build institutions, businesses, processes in a very Ghanaian way. That somehow all tangible progress must of necessity be foreign.

I am convinced that for Ghana to achieve this much desired next level in development we don’t need another “Honorable, Dr. Dr. Engineer, Lawyer, Architect, Economist, Chartered Accountant XYZ Kofi Mensah, MD Msc. M.Eng PHD LLM ACCA”. This is not to say that they don’t have a significant place in Ghana’s development.

What we need is for “Average Citizen Kofi Mensah” to grow his business from Accra to Kumasi, Takoradi, Hohoe, and Tamale. We need the average citizen who makes any product in Ghana to start thinking about markets in Nigeria, Liberia, Chad, Europe, and South America and bring his/her products to par with international standards with fierce urgency. The market woman who sells tomatoes and onions at Makola Market should consider becoming a small grocery chain.

We need every Ghanaian who has at least $1million in liquid cash to commit at least 10% to start or expand a viable locally grown business that provides goods or services in a very Ghanaian way. We also need banks to match these private financial commitments at reasonable interest rates.

Any ideas on what else could be useful?

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