Full Speech: Ivor Kobina Greenstreet at IEA Evening Encounter
On Tuesday, June 28, the Convention People's Party (CPP)'s flagbearer, Ivor Kobina Greenstreet took his turn on the Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA)'s Evening Encounter. He shared the Party's version should they win the November 7 election.
Read his speech below:
Good evening ladies and gentlemen
My Fellow Ghanaians,
Bob Marley said in one of his songs “If you are the big tree we are the small axe sharpened to cut you down”
We the CPP say to all Ghanaians that “We have a small axe but we will harvest a big tree”
Ghana's first president, Kwame Nkrumah, was the son of a goldsmith and a petty trader. By dint of hard work, he was able to educate himself and change his life's story. This is the Ghanaian Dream in action. If this was done in the 1900s, why can’t we do it today in the 21st century?
We must create a just society where everyone has a fair and equal chance of success, and make the sky the limit for those who want to change their destiny.
I represent the Party that believes in the oneness of Ghana, not tribal world banks but a world bank of truth, hope, justice and opportunity. Unfortunately, the behavior and policy choices of both the NDC and the NPP in government have made Ghanaians lose hope. Many Ghanaians think all is lost and that all politicians are the same. But all is not lost.
That is why I'm running for the highest office in the land. And that is why I am running on the ticket of the Convention People’s Party, out of conviction because I sincerely believe we have the ideas and capacity to rescue this nation and provide hope for the future.
Just look around you, despite all the shouting about poverty declining, recent statistics show that 30% of the population is poor with 19% extremely poor. We also have a creeping urbanization, sanitation and housing crisis. For example, just imagine, 53% of households in Accra occupy a single room. Inflation is up to 19% with interest rates at 35% and the cost of living is so so high for basic day to day things, 5 million Ghanaians don’t have access to toilets, Ghana is second in Africa after Sudan for open defecation and second in Cholera after Nigeria.
Over 29,000 Ghanaians were affected by Cholera in 2014 and our capital, had 20,000 cases resulting in 121 deaths. This is absolutely unacceptable indeed impermissible in the 21st Century.
That is why we believe there’s a need for a New Covenant with the people of Ghana. That is what the CPP is offering Ghanaians. Apam Foforo. It is founded on our core values of Self-determination, Social Justice and Pan-Africanism.
We cannot cover all areas in detail tonight but I will share some of our thoughts on Job creation, the economy, energy and making Government work again.
Looking at putting people back to work, research has shown that although there is economic growth its not reflected in sufficient employment growth and while there’s growth there is also increasing inequality. So clearly, we have to re-think our growth strategy. Because growth is pointless unless it produces high earning jobs and wealth for all.
So our efforts will be in partnership with the private sector in the areas of linkage between agriculture and manufacturing for the production of import substitutes.
We must invest in manufacturing and agriculture because that is where the potential for job creation is high. For example, growing bast-fibre to produce jute sacks would save 300 million US dollars otherwise paid to other countries.
The ingenuity of Ghanaians, with or without Government, has proven that we are capable of developing many valuable niche markets. Today in beauty products, high-quality Ghanaian shea is available in small quantities. But both NPP and NDC have misgoverned our niche markets like shea, cashew bamboo and others. The CPP takes a real approach to the economy and has studied even more opportunities in the niche economy.
It’s important because many countries have prospered through commodities like crude oil, oil palm, rubber, copper. Ghana’s path to prosperity must be defined. So let me give you our ideas on an area we’ve done some extensive research on. That area concerns the massive cultivation of the African tropical almond tree, which we know as Abr)fo Inkatie in Hausa, they call it Gugianbaturi. It’s very serious. California alone produces about 80% of the worlds supply and earns income running into billions and billions of dollars. Check it out for yourselves.
This research has been thoroughly carried out by Ghana’s foremost Almond tree expert for the past 15 years, Nana Kwesi Abura. He’s in the audience.
Almond has a short growing period and a very good yield. The yield is approximately, 3550 kilograms per hectare and it starts bearing fruit in only 2 and a half years.
Harvesting and processing is easy and cheap and rainfall requirements are minimal meaning it can be grown practically anywhere in the country.
Most importantly, the price on the international market for almond oil is as much as 10,000 US dollars per ton.
We shall mobilize 2 million youth to plant 32 trees per person in an 8-hour workday or 1,280 million trees in 20 days at 175 trees per hectare meaning that a total area equivalent to 7,314,285.7 hectares would be planted giving us almost 26 million tons for the whole area. Remember, Ghana has millions and millions of hectares of land available and currently lying fallow.
A rough estimate based on all of the above could potentially produce a total of 30 million tons of oil. Multiplied by 10 dollars per liter, Ghana’s economy could potentially generate 300 billion US dollars. Yes, it’s that serious, 300 billion dollars.
Why be shameful and disgraceful like NDC chasing the Chinese around in circles for 3 billion when God has given us fertile lands that with a little effort we could aim to generate 300 billion. Cut that target by more than half and earning 100 billion alone would clear the country’s debts.
Cracking nuts and toasting kernels as well as extracting and processing the oil, would employ 500,000 people, as well as generating multiple research institutes to support the programmes.
Financing of this program would be made available form different local and international sources and it will be an incentive based scheme based on an out-grower system.
By the way, do we even know where these 2 million youth would come from? So, digressing for a moment, within 6 months of coming into office CPP would introduce the National ID. We all can see what has happened so far. We would implement it entirely by our own creative local software developers. The process in itself would provide new Ghanaian jobs, help with our electoral register, credit rating, save millions from multiple agencies doing the same job, provide better statistics, an addressing system, help widen the tax net, and facilitate e-commerce. We will also look at the law to ensure the authority has greater autonomy and there’s greater protection of individuals information.
But going back to almond trees, the example I gave doesn’t mean all we’re going to do is grow almond trees. More will be done for cocoa, shea nut, maize, cassava and other produce. We will, of course, have Nothing to do with GMO.
So far my examples concerning agriculture have been related to how to creating jobs. And the situation is so serious. Do you know that recent statistics show that 48% of Ghanaians between the ages of 15 to 24 have no job? And that figure they say is worse for women. 48% and I repeat 48% of Ghanaians between the ages of 15 to 24 are jobless. And they say it will peak higher in the coming decade.
Are we Not a creative country? Do we have creative leadership? Why do we always have to think of the traditional white-collar ways of providing employment? Kwame Nkrumah was creative. In his time prisoners were also put to work, not like today were they are packed like sardines in inhuman conditions.
Fellow Ghanaians we are a nation in great difficulty. Sorry, what I meant to say was that We are a nation in CRISIS! C R I S I S.
The youth employment schemes so far just play with the problem and provide only temporary solutions. The most important thing for Ghanaians to accept and understand is that we have to do things differently if we want different results. This is what self-determination and self-reliance in practical terms means.
We need programs that compel all hands to be on deck. Ghana and Africa have one basic problem. We are not producing enough. That is why our economy and that is why our currency is in crises.
WE MUST CREATE JOBS AND THE RIGHT TYPE AND FAST. WE BELIEVE IT IS POSSIBLE TO CHANGE THE STRUCTURE OF THE ECONOMY THROUGH STATE INTERVENTION THAT STIMULATES THE PRIVATE SECTOR TO SECURE THE STRATEGIC INVESTMENTS THAT ARE OUR DEVELOPMENT IMPERATIVES.
So, ask yourselves the critical question. Why are we in this situation? The answer is that it is the economic policies of the NDC and NPP, which are exactly the same, and which they’ve been pursuing for the last 24 years that have landed us in this miserable situation.
They believe in inflation targeting and the failure of the Central Bank to attain single-digit inflation over the years shows that “inflation targeting” is inappropriate for Ghana. The CPP will not practice inflation targeting. We shall focus instead on economic growth and job creation and allow the inflation rate to find its own level in line with the pace of overall economic activity. This doesn’t mean we are opposed to stabilization but we are not in favor of more austerity which causes retrenchment, an increase in utility bills and higher taxes and more suffering for the already suffering Ghanaian.
We agree with Professor Amatya sen, the 1998 Nobel laureate in economics who said that: “economic growth or development must be about human progress and happiness”
We will, of course, establish a comprehensive detailed plan that will fit into the expected National Development Plan with quantifiable targets that ensure the proper forward and backward linkages in the economy. This Economic Spreadsheet would have knowledge, finance and technology as its basis.
On coming into office we will abrogate any EPA signed unilaterally with the EU. We do not believe that these kinds of agreements should be signed unilaterally with giant blocks like the EU. They are more impositions than agreements. We believe that Ghana is stronger safer and better in a properly functioning ECOWAS and we will, therefore, stand by Nigeria in seeking to negotiate such agreements collectively.
And before NPP comes here to give a list of district industries let me remind you that the CPP has done this before until all the factories were largely sold, given away or abandoned by the PNDC / NDC & NPP. Steel works in Tema and Takoradi, Atomic energy in Kwabenya, an industrial machine workshop in Tema, the Akosombo dam, cement factory in Tema, coconut fibre and ceramic processing near saltpond, rattan or cane, basket weaving and bamboo processing in Eastern region, rubber plantation and a gold refinery in Western region, Pwalugu tomato factory as well as Zuarungu meat factory in Bolgatanga, A cotton factory in Tamale and jute and shoe factory in Kumasi. The list was endless but successive governments have systematically destroyed these fortunes, do not believe in self-determination and have made us beggars.
But we know we also have to reduce interest rates and taxes, solve the energy problem and improve conditions for doing business. We shall improve the speed of setting up businesses and other administrative processes by improved online platforms.
The whole essence of the civil and public services is to serve the needs of the people. We will engineer Civil and public sector reforms just for that. We will ensure priority ministries, departments and agencies clearly map out the service they render, how to access it and how much each service costs. This act alone will empower the people and eliminate undue delays and bribe-taking and shall be part of our anti-corruption efforts.
We will also ensure they have commitment statements, describing how long it takes to deliver their services. Every CEO or head of an agency will be held accountable for these commitment statements. As president, I will meet these CEOs and heads twice a month to check how they are delivering to the people.
Everybody has agreed that we need to take steps to make Ghana the petroleum-refining hub of the West Africa sub-region.
But steps have to be taken to properly take full advantage of the associated industries and to do this we will establish an advanced machine tools industry, with highly trained and skilled technicians and machinists from our polytechnics, technical colleges and universities.
For this to succeed Technology is key and it’s the greatest enemy to poverty and we will ensure its proper linkage to agriculture and industry. Our own experts have done so much research that we’ve not used. Climate change is reshaping human civilization. How we respond will determine the future of our species. I shall fully implement the National Climate change adaptation strategy.
And it is this same technology that we have to apply to energy.
In his book, “Audacity of Hope” Barrack Obama said:
“A nation without the means to control its energy requirements is a nation without means to guarantee its security”
We will show you how our approach will lead to a reduction in the cost of electricity over time.
What we are offering is a medium to a long-term solution to the country’s chronic energy deficit. Ghana has huge renewable energy resources waiting to be tapped. We have to be creative.
Currently, the United States is working on a 3000-mega watt wind park in South Wyoming. The wind park covers 1000 hectares with 1000 wind turbines. In fact, the US is implementing a wind energy programme to ensure that 20% of its energy mix would come from the wind by 2030. In South Korea, the
Government has set up an ambitious target of 2.4gw over the next 9 years from offshore wind power.
Under my presidency, Ghana will do it bigger and better. Research on our proposals has been conducted by one of Ghana and CPP’s foremost engineers, Robert Woode.
My Fellow Ghanaians, It is common knowledge that the Volta River lies between two parallel mountain ranges. The river lies within a wind corridor that is a trough. The Unique topography of the area generates this wind corridor as a result of the globe turning on its axis at 1040 mph and orbiting the sun at 67,000 mph. Installing wind turbines in this corridor will utilize the wind energy.
Standard wind turbines at an average height of 120 meters with a diameter of 85 meters would generate 3mw of energy per unit. The wind corridor stretching from Ada to the north is over 1000 kilometers. Our studies indicate that this is among the biggest and most reliable wind corridor in Africa.
For your information, tidal waves peculiar to this area are induced by the wind in this very same corridor. That’s why people put big stones on their roofs. We must take advantage of this free gift of nature.
Installing these turbines at a distance of 300 meters triangular should produce 9900 towers or 29700 mega watts of energy. Given a wind outage of 66% over the whole stretch of 1000 kilometers, it should guarantee 9000 mw at all times. This would meet our energy needs cheaply with sufficient left over for sale to neighbouring countries raking in additional revenue for Government.
Modern wind turbines are manufactured from fiberglass, which can be produced from a re-activated Abosso Glass factory. This would provide a large potential market for any investor willing to take part in the re-activation of the Abosso Glass factory. Less than 2 mw of electrical power is required to cover the total needs of the factory.
Of course, Ghana’s energy shall be a mix of wind, solar, hydro, thermal and crude oil and of course bio mass and perhaps even nuclear on a regional ECOWAS basis.
Talking about bio gas energy and forward and backward integration let me tell you one final thing about the Tropical African Almond tree, Abr)fo Inkatie. Almond has a high protein cake of 42%. It can used to replace soya bean cake as the main protein base for the poultry industry. Fish farmers would benefit from the use of almond cake combined with cocoa pod extract that is high in potash. A strong poultry and fish industry would provide extra energy for the economy. As both poultry fat and fish oil could be used to generate electricity. Additionally, poultry litter could be used for biogas.
Since the quantities of protein in animal feed in Ghana are rather small almond cake could be used as a supplement for all sectors and help to reduce the supply deficit. The poultry industry in Ghana and Africa today is in crises because of high feed costs and cheap meat imports. As well as that, with cheap almond nut cake protein the entire Volta Lake could be transformed into the largest fishpond in the world.
Look at our educational profile. In South Korea 60% of the population has higher education while ours is 3%. There are fundamental changes that need to be made to our educational system. The debate between the NDC and the NPP about duration, free, cost and classrooms is the least of the problems bothering Ghana's educational system. Those are cosmetic changes.
Let’s ask ourselves, do we teach our students to be useful to society or reduce them to mere liabilities? Some have said we have unemployable graduates.
What we need in our educational system is a seismic curricular shift and re-direction. The fundamental structure of our education, in terms of what we teach and how we are teaching it must change to make it 21st century-relevant. We must teach skills. After all the essence of education is to give the citizens basic skills and values that will enable them lead decent lives. We shall ensure those educated are linked to all facets of our economic and social life.
To make this possible we will drastically improve the working conditions of teachers and educational workers at all levels and re-orient them towards our overall national agenda and plan. Our Nkrumaist vision of education is ICT/technology based, with a distance-learning model aimed at equalizing the disparity between urban and rural areas with continuous education.
We will continue to support and enhance the NHIS and look at innovative ways to increase funds made available. We shall ensure that politicians aren’t able to meddle with NHIS and that health professionals run the scheme and professional managers of money run the fund.
We will also try and do more to mitigate the effects of road traffic accidents (out of the 1.25 million RTAs worldwide per year, over 50% are in developing countries.). We will improve our emergency services as there is a serious clear lack of proper trauma care facilities on our roads.
In maternal health, we will try and improve access to care when in labour, because although there is antenatal care many pregnant women are not receiving treatment in time when in labour. This causes needless deaths especially in the case of physically challenged women in labour. We will also strengthen our public health interventions.
Additionally, Doctors have to pay for their postgraduate studies whilst still working causing many to leave to go abroad leaving gaps in our health care system. The CPP shall make such post-graduate education for doctors free, as is the case in many countries that are serious about retaining their health professionals.
Besides education and health affordable housing both in terms of ownership and rental is one of the most important aspects of a responsive social policy. As stated earlier 53% of households in Accra live in a single room.
We will pass the reviewed rent control act immediately we assume office. We must come together and tear down the barriers that we have all erected that makes it nearly impossible to make progress in life.
The Rent Act clearly stipulates that you are only supposed to pay 6 months rent to a landlord but despite this law, we have all come to accept the practice of paying for 2-3 years rent.
This makes life very very difficult for newly employed people, who must go and borrow at high interest rates to pay rent. Once we tear this barrier down, we will make life bearable for thousands of young people, enabling them to build their dreams.
A roof over a man or woman’s head is a basic right. Let us be realistic with the mismanagement we have suffered not everyone can own their own house immediately. My government would also restore social housing as a duty of government. We shall bring back things like Kaneshi estates and Efia Kuma estates for all Ghanaians whilst also making it easier for people to own their houses through reforms in the construction industry and the encouragement of local building materials. Affordable is supposed to mean affordable.
Women, Children & the Aged
A CPP government would be committed to implementing the important 2016 affirmative action (gender equality bill) currently before parliament since the act is to ensure the achievement of gender equality in political, social, economic and educational spheres in society.
Furthermore the Ghanaian child is vulnerable due to the high infant mortality rate and child trafficking. The CPP will honour all laws including the child cannot wait programme, designed to improve their welfare.
The CPP is also committed to implementing the spirit and letter of the 1992 constitution under article 37 2 b especially in respect of old women being accused of witchcraft. We shall protect the dignity well-being and happiness of the aged.
Obviously, I have a personal interest in ensuring that the disabled are given the best treatment they could ever have imagined.
But before that, looking at the examples I gave earlier we are all disabled in so many ways. If you can’t access proper health care, education or employment you are disabled by your circumstances. How much more someone with an additional disability. Let’s re-orient our whole mindset on disability.
We will make sure the Disability Act; the UN Convention on the rights of persons with disabilities will be fully implemented with the speed of light. We shall go further to ensure their dignity is protected and enhanced and that education and health and transportation are free and that public and private employers be legislated to employ not less than 5% of their workforce as persons with disability. We shall leave no stone unturned.
Unfortunately, the flagstaff house itself, the highest office of the land, in the construction of that mighty building has no ramp. Those who constructed it never thought for a second that that one day the President of Ghana would be in a wheelchair. We are in the Holy month of Ramadan and for the remaining 10 days I have been breaking my fast with the CPP Director of Communications and my brother Khadri Abdul Rauf. For those doubting Thomas’s, rest assured that the ways of man are not the ways of God. Insha Allah bi iznil laaa.
Story by Ghana| Myjoyonline.com
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