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Sam Jonah questions why there are no Ghanaian owners in major businesses in telcos, mining, oil, banking

BY: Enoch Darfah Frimpong
Sam Jonah questions why there are no Ghanaian owners in major businesses in telcos, mining, oil
Sam Jonah questions why there are no Ghanaian owners in major businesses in telcos, mining, oil

Statesman, Sir Sam E. Jonah, has reiterated the worry about why there is no Ghanaian ownership of the local economy, especially when it comes to major sectors such as mobile telephony, banking, mining, and oil and gas.

To him, there should be a deliberate act of government policy to empower "your own people [Ghanaians]" to help solve the problems of the economy.

"So if you sit there idle and you don't do anything, equity does not assist the indolent, you don't do anything, they [foreign investors] take their money away."

Sir Sam Jonah, founder and chairman of Jonah Capital (Pty) Ltd and former Executive President of Anglogold Ashanti, who led the mine for many years and transformed it to the extent of even listing it on the New York Stock Exchange was speaking in a televised interview with GTV, monitored by Graphic Online Friday morning [April 22, 2022].

He was responding to accusations that he did not do much to help alleviate the plight of the Obuasi township, where gold has been mined for more than 120years and develop the town when he was the head of the oldest mine in Ghana, after the Prestea Bogoso mine.

His explanation was that, he cannot be blamed since he was not the owner of the Obuasi mine and that he was only a worker for the owners who were foreigners  for many years.

In fact, he said until 1969 when the Ghana government became a part-owner, the Obuasi mine had over the years been owned by foreigners.

Even when the Ghana government became a part-owner, he said it was the government that, decided on what to do with the revenue from the mine, which was channeled into the national budget to support the economy of the entire country.

Ownership

This is what led him to reiterate his argument about ownership of businesses in Ghana.

He said: "In fact, it is down to ownership. I have previously in my speeches, I have lamented the fact that the Ghanaian ownership of the local economy is very disappointing."

"Look at your mobile telephony companies, there is no Ghanaian, forget about Vodafone because Vodafone..., Ghana government has a stake and I don't even know what the figure is, maybe 20 percent or whatever..."

"But there is no, whether it is MTN, whether it is Airtel, there is no Ghanaian who has one percent of any of them. Look at the banks, we have the Nigerian owned, or Standard Chartered, Barclays [Absa], all of them foreign-owned. Look at even the insurance companies now, look at the mines, there is no Ghanaian who has one percent of any of the mines, no Ghanaian, it is a fact. There is no Ghanaian who has one percent of any of the oil, Tullow or whatever, so Tullow, when they take their money, where do you think they will take it, outside. But if a Ghanaian had 20 percent, empowerment doesn't just happen, it is a deliberate act of government policy to empower your own people. So if you sit there idle and you don't do anything, equity does not assist the indolent, you don't do anything, they [foreign investors] take their money away."

Sir Jonah advocated for the need to avoid the short-term mindset in dealing with investors.

Read also: I want to step into the shoes of President Kwame Nkrumah - Sam Jonah

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