The proposed 40-year plan of the National Development Planning Commission (NDPC), is commendable. A long-term plan, for me, is long overdue. In 2012 ,I called for a 200-year plan even. The following are a few ideas which could easily be overlooked in the plan.
First, the NDPC will need to define for us ‘development’, as not just infrastructure and economy but functional systems and structures with improved quality of life.
The NDPC will need to carve a dream for us. In US a born-child is ushered into the unwritten dream of assured ‘good health, education, job, home and family, a big car and quality life’. That is the American dream, guaranteed at birth, more or less. What is our dream?
What is development?
My concept of development is a society of an ever-advancing, self-sustaining functional system of mutually supportive, time-conscious and happy citizens who operate sub-systems of sound economy and functioning infrastructure, where its people are decently accommodated, engage in productive work, each living at least a minimum standard life; a system of equity and equal opportunities, respect for human and people’s rights, of freedom and justice, with an incorruptible judiciary and police force, where the law works without favour; a system with proper literary and functional education which produces persons with employable skills; a system that provides decent employment for its healthy productive citizens.
This is a system where food security and total health are guaranteed and life is prolonged through elimination of preventable diseases and prevention of unnecessary deaths; where attention is given to data and research to make life homely; a system capable of utilising the untapped resources of the country and harness these resources to the benefit of all, not a selected few; a system in which citizens overcome prejudice of ethnicity, religion and gender; a system in which the environment is respected and not pillaged, water bodies are protected and kept clean and sacred; a corruption-free system of true economic independence from Bretton Woods Institutions; a system which can adequately control its population, in which life assumes meaning and one can always hit his chest and say ‘I have contributed my bit to this society and have also benefited from its goodies.’ That is my idea of development.
For this concept some questions need to be asked: the population today and in 40 years in phases: 10, 20, 30 and 40 years. Our population doubles roughly every 25 years, so in 25 years it will be about 54 million. In 40 years it will be about 100 million and in 200 years it will be 6.5 billion, almost the world population now living in Ghana then. Yet Ghana will be same in size. Food security will be an issue. What are farmlands like and what will they be? Given the extent to which environmental destruction through galamsey and government-sanctioned large-scale surface mining, what would be left? Where shall we eat from? Will we still be importing tomatoes and onions from Burkina Faso?
What will our water bodies, already drying up, be like in 40 years? Will Akosombo and Bui Dams and the Volta Lake be there or dried up? What will be the fate of smaller rivers and streams? Elsewhere Lake Chad is already drying up.
On accommodation, with the deficit of over 3 million houses now, what will it be like in 40 years with 100 million population? We need to construct accommodation facilities with high-rise buildings at Nima, Mammobi, Sodom and Gomorrah, etc. There should be a policy to compel real estate developers to build at least four storeys rather than sprawl single storeys.
What will the vehicular population be like? In 40 years, there will perhaps be 20 times the number of vehicles today. We need to expand our road network: increase the numbers and expand existing ones. Plan building more interchanges at intersections and roundabouts with fly-overs over buildings. Break down some existing buildings to make way for new roads after a thorough planning of the cities. Tetteh-Quarshie interchange needs redesigning.
The Tema motorway will need expansion. Take steps to immediately reclaim the land shamelessly, greedily and thoughtlessly sold to build churches and malls.
Consider new methods of transportation like water transport, light rails, tramways, underground trains, hovercrafts, trains on suspended rails and cable cars.
What is waste generation like today and what will it be in 40 years? How do we convert waste to energy? Plan to tap the solar energy for electricity generation.
Need for re-orientation
Our human development index. Are we going to Ghana@100 with the same mindset of people today? That would be fatal. Plan to have a Ghanaian with a different mentality.
On October 1, 2007 I published an article in this paper titled ‘Ghana@50: A National Psychoanalysis,’ which examined our way of thinking and behaving and suggested restructuring this thinking and behaviour pattern. Revisit that.
We need a Ghanaian without the docility and timidity wrongly called hospitality and tolerance; a people without the notorious ‘government property,’ ‘get-rich-quick’ superstitious mentality lacking in the culture of science. We need assertiveness to insist on our right rather than the current ‘fa ma Nyame syndrome’ (Give it to God’); a country with a judiciary truly independent without ‘justice-for-sale’ and manipulation. We should plan to be a country of meritocracy, not klepto-kakistocracy, composed of persons with pseudologia fantastica (pathological lies) that we have known over the years. That will also be when elections are truly free and fair beyond manipulation and people vote based on their conscience, not on their stomachs.
We need national re-orientation and re-organisation of our thought patterns and land tenure system. Plan to re-order our chieftaincy institution, examine our culture, traditions and customs, discard primitive ones and encourage progressive ones; evaluate our educational system, stop the fake men of God and their brainwashing and encourage people to worship God not by blind faith but by reasoned faith.
After the diagnosis of our problems in a ‘national psychoanalysis’ article mentioned earlier, I proceeded in 2008 and published a four-part article in the issues of this January 10 , 21 , 20 and March 27, with the title: ‘Towards Ghana@100: A Prescription’. In these pieces I gave suggestions of planning towards Ghana at 100 to attain our dream of a developed nation. On February 24, 2012 this paper had an article of mine titled ‘Will Ghana survive the next 200 years?’ in which I called for a 200-year plan and gave ideas. NDPC may do well to revisit these articles if they mean business.
Again on September 28, 2007, in a letter in the Daily Graphic with the title: ‘Tapping the ideas of our Presidential Aspirants’, I suggested ways by which the ideas of our numerous presidential candidates vying for the presidency could be tapped to advantage. I would recommend to the NDPC to look at the statements of all these candidates from 1992 and their party manifestoes for beautiful ideas. The inner pages of the newspapers also have interesting articles the NDPC can use. This way we shall get ideas to build a modern Ghana by 2057 when Ghana will be 100 years old.