Do we have scientists in Ghana?

BY: Enimil Ashon

Comparing Ghana of the 1990s and Ghana of today, I conclude that as a country, the only progress we have made is our ability to illegally amass wealth at the expense of the poor to acquire western and Chinese goods.

Ignore occasional ratings of our economy by IMF and World Bank which tell us Ghana is the fastest-growing economy in the world or that we have attained middle income status etc.

Besides cocoa, there is no agricultural produce which fetches us money on the international market: the rest are token.

Otherwise, what is this bowel-wrenching report I hear, that Ghana imports shrimps for use in its multiple-star rated hotels and restaurants!

In addition to, or because of our poverty, our souls have become so calloused with cheating and wickedness, that we use gutter-water to grow our carrots and veggies; which explains why Europe and America are not buying them from Ghana.

The ban has nothing to do with racism: even our own hotels dread the sight of Ghana-grown veggies and carrots.

This piece is not a treatise on the Ghanaian economy; at least, not on those micro-macro economic theories that rate us high merely because Ghana now boasts of shopping malls in almost every region filled, only two per cent with a few tokens grown in Ghana.

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We have so lost control of the exchange rate regime that we beat brass pans and ring bells when the cedi appreciates by a pesewa to the dollar.

By the orientation of their scholarships, African technocrats are equipped to solve European and American problems, never African problems.

Otherwise, why are we starving our scientists and research institutions?

It is not for the fun of it that one African leader (I won’t mention his name) created a whole Science Village peopled with researchers under the umbrella of CSIR.

Today, powerful MPs, Ministers of State and judges, with blessings from on high, are encroaching on lands belonging to this Village and giving them to the Chinese to build (guess what?) hotels. Can you imagine!

Some of us may sound like musical stylus stuck in a 33 rpm vinyl groove, but does it make sense to note that as far back as the first few years of the 1960s (note: Nineteen Sixties), this country was manufacturing glass and bottles?

Until I showed the picture to my children, they refused to believe that Ghana, once upon a time, built a car, two brands, actually – Boafo and Adom. The prototypes and the first few that came off the assembly line were being used to transport lumber at Accra’s timber market and fish at the Tema Fishing Harbour.

That revolution was begun by a certain leader (I won’t mention his name) who, frightened by our level of import dependence, summoned all the vehicle importing companies, such as R.T Briscoe and UAC, and challenged them to bring down only vehicle parts for assembling here.

It culminated in the setting up of the Vehicle Assembling Plant (VAP) by UAC.

The vehicle assembly plants were a means of passing on the technology to our own university-trained scientists, One of them was P.V Obeng (RIP) who was a UAC assembly plant scientist.

Our Boafo and Adom may not have been the most sophisticated in the world, but it was a proud achievement, compared to The Benz Patent-Motorwagen of 1886, regarded as the birth year of the modern car.

Ghana’s attempt was 50 years ago, long before Brazil and Korea even dared to start dreaming?

Can we imagine where we would have been today – with tyres manufactured by Bonsa Tyre Factory, and with diesel from Jathropa plants in abundant supply all over Ghana?

For the records, the Bonsa Tyre Factory, until it was shut down, had the capacity to produce 1,230 tyres and 960 inner tubes a day, Remember, this was 50 years ago!

So why have we sunk so low that we are importing Chinese tricyles!!! Can we seriously conclude, looking at ourselves, that the Black man is capable of solving his own problems?

Ghana does have scientists, an abundant supply of them, but where are the test tubes?