The Domestic Debt Exchange Programme must be well communicated
The Domestic Debt Exchange Programme must be well communicated

Messengers of night

Ghana’s domestic debt restructuring has become a topical issue drawing reactions from both experts and citizens.

While the government insists on the inclusion of individual bondholders in the programme, experts such as Dr Theo Acheampong insist on the exclusion of individual bondholders from the programme.


The tango between the government and the individual bondholders resulted in the government softening its stance.

The need to discuss the government’s communicative approach towards the debt-restructuring programme is at this time necessary.

The importance of effective communication in every life endeavour cannot be overemphasised. Effective communication can prevent wars, build relationships, resolve conflicts, and ensure peaceful coexistence.

In practical life, organisations that pay attention to and promote effective communication by investing in the same, increase their profit margins and easily secure the agreement of stakeholders on issues of importance.

The challenge in Ghana, however, is that most public institutions seem to lack effective communication strategies. They often adopt the mono-directional information flow, where they resort to press releases and the media as a means of communicating major decisions to the public, without prior engagement with stakeholders.

This often leads to agitations and delays in decision-making, which could have been easily avoided if they adopted effective communication strategies.

Decisions that are announced to the public without the prior engagement of stakeholders are resisted, because the stakeholders feel disrespected, coerced and helpless.

The E-Levy tax, for example, was initially rejected leading to delays in the mobilisation of targeted revenue, because of poor communication. Subsequently, when citizens were engaged, the tax was passed. The harm, however, has long been caused.

Another case is the debt-restructuring programme. While the government claims it has engaged and communicated to individual bondholders its desire to include them in the debt restructuring programme, subsequent agitations by the bondholders indicate otherwise.

The drama could have been avoided if the government had adopted effective communication strategies such as engaging the bondholders privately on the issue and reaching an agreement before finally communicating it to the public. Increasingly, the government and public institutions in Ghana surprise citizens with major decisions without bothering to engage the public to take their input.

Eventually, such decisions are rejected leading to increased costs and unnecessary delays.

Effective communication strategies include active listening. The government is not obliged to listen to every citizen or even when it listens, it is under no obligation to implement what they suggest.

However, active listening will make one understand and appreciate other views and opinions in a major decision. If the government of Ghana listens to the people effectively, it will realise and appreciate the difficulties associated with some of its decisions and take steps to ameliorate them.

However, when government fails to listen to the people, it takes decisions that are mostly alien to the public and will thus be rejected. In governing a country, too much focus on personal agenda without the governed in mind is detrimental to the success of the country. Personal agenda must always be connected with the public interest and when this is done effectively, the nation grows.

Another strategy for effective communication is to focus on the issues and not personalities. Most often, government communicators concentrate on political opponents and personalities that criticise the government and fail to speak to or address the major issues in the public domain. This not only infuriates the public but also makes them fail to appreciate the issues under discussion.

Instead of being messengers of the night who are mistaken for thieves and robbers and are beaten, our public institutions and government especially must start adopting effective communication strategies as this is likely to reduce cost and promote quick decision-making, especially in times of emergency.

A night messenger may not be recognised and his message is likely to be ignored.

The writer is a Marketing & Communication Consultant

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