Renowned businessman, Dr Anthony Oteng-Gyasi has laid bare the root cause of Ghana’s stagnant manufacturing sector.
According to Dr Oteng-Gyasi, the skewed reward system incentivizes traders and importers over local producers.
He said this in a speech titled “The Fault Dear Brutus,” delivered during the 2023 University of Ghana Alumni Lecture on Tuesday, November 7.
The industrialist who is also the Board Chair for the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) argued that national policies, from insistence on exchange rate stability to exemptions from import duties, create an environment where importing goods and services is more lucrative than setting up and growing manufacturing industries.
This, he said, has resulted in a decline in manufacturing jobs and a concentration of wealth among a small group of elites. The majority of Ghanaians, he emphasized, are stuck in low-skill and dead-end jobs, unable to escape the cycle of poverty.
Dr Oteng-Gyasi called for a radical shift in policy, advocating for a focus on value chains and making manufacturing a priority. He urged the government to prioritize local production and provide incentives for businesses to invest in manufacturing.
“The solution to poverty is not low prices and free public goods,” he declared.
“The solution is income generation from skilled, sustainable jobs. Manufacturing and production are the means to such jobs.”
Dr Oteng-Gyasi, Chairman of the Tropical Cable and Conductor in Ghana, called for a national debate about Ghana’s economic trajectory and the need for a more sustainable and inclusive growth model.
He also believes in the need to prioritize market access for local production among others.
“Fortunately, we have not reached the tipping point and there is still time and opportunity to take responsibility for ourselves. The first step is to identify the appropriate value chains. We must make manufacturing policy based on these chains and make our limited resources available to manufacturing within the chains. Market access for local production should be a priority. Every locally produced effort should be given priority over imports with a price advantage if required in the early stages.”
The event was also graced by the Vice Chancellor, Prof Nana Aba Appiah Amfo and the Chairman of UG Alumni Association’s Council, Doris Adwoa Kisiwa Ansah.