There is nothing wrong with borrowing if what is borrowed is used to generate income to pay for the borrowed money and to make life more comfortable. The problem with Ghana’s borrowing is that, we confuse it with begging.
The begging mentality has become so ingrained that we tend to confuse borrowing with hand-outs which are traded off with obsequious behaviour. I was, therefore, more than pleased when The Vice-President, Dr Bawumia, said the delegation which visited China recently was charged by the President “not to beg” but to negotiate with the Chinese as equals.
The Institute for Democratic Governance (IDEG) is to be congratulated for giving Ghanaians an early opportunity to know and discuss the aims and results of the recent visit of the Vice-President and his economic delegation to China.
The Vice-President was lucid as usual. He made it clear that the Chinese investment was not a loan, aid or hand-out. What was agreed was to “leverage” less than five per cent of Ghana’s bauxite deposits to unlock about US$20 million. I must plead ignorance about the word “leverage”. But in the context used, I understood it to mean that the Chinese would in effect own about five per cent of our bauxite deposits in the ground. When the deposits are exploited, the monies realised would go to pay for the Chinese loan. The money realised would also be used to fund development projects planned by Ghana.
As usual, the problem would be the enforcement of discipline on the Ghanaian side. Plans have to be made and projects executed as envisaged. The appropriate infrastructure should be constructed and the technicians should be available. These requirements were discussed by experts at length at the IDEG forum which followed the exposition by the Vice-President and the Chinese Ambassador.
Ghana should not be over-awed by the expertise required to execute the projects. We do not require hordes of experts from China and other countries; neither should we worry unduly about modifying the present educational system and request our universities and technical institutions to adjust their programmes to provide the needs of infrastructure and industry. The factories and development structures will train some of the personnel they need and the universities and technical institutions should eventually provide the needs of the new industries and structures.
There is a lot to be done with education at all levels in Ghana, but we should not modify our teaching plans and methods until we know which industries and the like we wish to establish. We should not import experts for non-specified, non-essential assignments. There seems to be some uneasiness in certain quarters about major Chinese involvement in the development of Ghana. The Chinese presence would not be different from that of other nationals who worked or are working in Ghana. Much would depend upon our confidence and the maintenance of our laws, rules and regulations. Right now, we have a complex in the treatment and regard of nationals of countries which are believed to help with our development in the form of handouts and loans we do not fully pay.
The Chinese involvement in Ghana’s development should not produce a dependency complex. We should promote that self-confidence which Nkrumah promoted at independence. China is the world’s second economic power. She has the money to invest for her future and ensure that she has the raw materials to fuel her economy. She is promoting her interests by economic collaboration with us. We should also do likewise as we deepen Ghana-China relations.
As the Chinese Ambassador said, “China-Africa relations have now reached the best stage in history and China-Africa cooperation is facing unprecedented opportunities. China will continue to make contributions to economic transformation and sustainable development of Africa” . China ensures that the transformation is in her interest. It is for Ghana to equally ensure that cooperation with China promotes her best economic and social interests.