Mr Yaw Osafo-Maafo, the Senior Minister, says it is high time the nation departs from the export of raw materials and adds value to her agricultural produce in order to maximise profit for infrastructural development.
He said Ghana, and for that matter Africa, should move away from the paradigm of relying heavily on the export of raw commodities to generate income.
He cited for instance, Ghana and La Cote d’Ivoire, the two countries that produced 60 per cent of the world’s cocoa output, out of which they earned a paltry $5.5 billion from the cocoa value chain, while the chocolate producers rather earned a hooping $100 billion.
“We have a problem of earning a fair value of the cocoa value chain because we don’t determine the world prices, therefore, the only solution is to process our cocoa beans here in order to create jobs for our people,” he said.
Mr Osafo-Maafo said this when he contributed to a Roundtable Discussion on “Democracy and Development in Africa: Trends and Paths” organised by the Ghana Centre for Democratic Development (CDD-Ghana), a policy think tank, in Accra, on Tuesday.
The Senior Minister noted that the prices of cocoa in recent years had slumped on the global market from $3,000 to $1,750 per tonne, which should have resulted in the reduction of the prices paid to farmers, however, Government decided to subsidise it.
Mr Osafo-Maafo, therefore, called for the expansion of the cocoa processing plants in the country, with available market for the finished products so that the nation would get a fair value for her products.
He said African countries should take the education of their populations seriously because countries that were not endowed with raw materials like South Korea, Japan and Malaysia educated their citizens adequately, which they leveraged on to develop their economies to higher heights.
“In Ghana we have redefined our basic education to include senior high school level, and this is a very big jump, which should reflect in our democratic dividends,” he noted.
This, according to him, would change the attitudes of Ghanaians in terms of their consumption, governance system and positively impact on the socio-economic development of the nation.
He said: “Education is a very key ingredient when we are talking about democracy, therefore, development and freedom should be given priority attention when developing the human index”.
Professor Peter Lewis, the Vice Dean of the Academic and Faculty Affairs, Johns Hopkins University, School of Advanced International Studies, USA, in a presentation on the aforementioned topic, said African countries with dominant party system or multi-party democracy had enjoyed stable and prosperous economic fortunes from 1980s up to the year 2000, compared to those practising authoritarian system of governance, which had suffered decline in their economies.
He said there was ample evidence to show that countries with good democratic system turned to produce better economic and education outcomes, which have had positive impact on their economies compared to those with authoritarian system of governance.
He, therefore, suggested that African countries should adopt suitable system of governance that would inure to the benefit of their peoples, adding; “African countries should continue to experiment to see the best system of governance for each country”.
Dr Bossman Asare, the Head of Political Science Department, University of Ghana, who chaired the function, said African countries should work at entrenching the rule of law and building consensus on very important national issues, instead of playing politics with every issue.
He noted that democracy should be used to cater for the welfare of the ordinary citizen, especially supporting the education of the vulnerable people and providing their basic needs.
The event brought together policy analysts, government officials, civil society organizations, the diplomatic community and the media.