I stopped by a mall to buy a few items the other day. As I meandered my way about admiring and picking products, something struck me. Apart from the bread and pastries rack and a few Nestle and Unilever products, almost every item in the mall was imported.
I saw frozen products imported from South Africa. So were apples, potatoes, onions and bananas. Hardware products such as tiles, doors and door locks were mostly from Spain and China. Footwear and clothing also came from China. With cosmetics, most of them were from France, La Cote d’Ivoire and the majority of the wines were from Spain, France and South Africa. Television sets, home theatres and electronic gadgets were from China and Korea. Confectionaries mostly spotted were made in Turkey and even toiletries, tissue paper and children’s toys carried a made-in-China tag.
Komenda Sugar Factory
As I inched closer to the sugar rack, it dawned on me that at last, I may get a sachet of sugar from the recently inaugurated Komenda Sugar Factory. After searching frantically for some time without any positive results, I enquired from an attendant where I could locate the much-touted Komenda sugar. Her response was crisp: “Madam, that one has also turned out to be 419 oo.”
Reluctantly, I made do with a sachet from Brazil as usual. As I drove, I began reflecting on our country and the many things that kept us marking time. I thought about our many collapsed factories and industries, including those which died and were resurrected only to die again. The Pwalugu Tomato Factory and Ghana Airways for instance, and now this Komenda Sugar Factory came to mind.
I remember the inauguration a few years ago. Hopes were high and it was with pomp and political flavour. The people of Komenda and its environs were promised jobs and by extension monies literally flowing into their pockets. But over two years since the inauguration, we can hardly boast a cube of Komenda sugar in any Ghanaian’s tea or koko. Yet so much money has been spent in reviving the factory. The critical and legitimate question is: what planning and due diligence went into the project or was it just an attempt to fulfil a political promise gone bad?
A few months after the inauguration, there were rumours that the factory could not operate because of lack of raw material—sugarcane. Really? How on earth could that be? Was any feasibility study carried out at all? These rumours were strongly debunked by officials and some bags of the sugar were shown to the media but never on the market shelves, and then that was it! Call it a political stunt? Or have we been cursed to the extent that anything we touch fails? I recall President John Agyekum Kufuor’s numerous presidential initiatives. How many of them are alive and doing well?
In secondary school, we were taught that if a country did not manufacture and was always dependent on imports, the economic problems were bound to include loss of foreign exchange and unemployment. But here we are, still importing almost everything, including chamber pots and toothpicks 60 years after independence. And yet successive political leaders keep promising us they will fix unemployment.
So why is this state of affairs still the same while we are giving speeches about employment? Where are we going wrong? Why are we not able to properly manage our factories? Yet there are foreign-owned businesses in the country which have been operating for years and keep expanding.
And it is also obvious that anytime our factories collapse, it means money has gone down the drain. That is why every time I hear about taxes and increases in taxes I cringe. Not because I do not want to pay taxes but the feeling that the tax-payer’s money is being toyed with. Couldn’t the Komenda Sugar Factory be one of the one-district-one factory projects? So is that the end of the story and, therefore, another huge sum gone down the drain?
Truly, we are our own enemies!