Feeding Western Multinational Corporations Through A ”Babylon System” : The Case Of Ghana’s Economy

Sometime last week, Samia Nkrumah made a statement on ‘The Lounge’ show – she made an allegation that Ghana’s economic system has been rigged by the West to favor their industries; she specifically accused America’s CIA of doing the job.

She didn’t present any document to back her allegations and I doubt if she has one to that effect, but I thought her statement should have generated some sort of discussion. I thought maybe the network on which the show was been broadcasted world have made a news item out of it, to at least create some conversation on the issue – because I recall her saying “we can’t begin solving the problem if we don’t talk about it”, but that didn’t happen.

Ghana turns 60 in few days but my country’s age does not reflect in her development. The country still depends heavily on export of raw materials such as cocoa, gold, bauxite and recently crude, but it’s no hidden fact that the location of these materials remains the poorest regions in the country. The prices of these commodities of course are being determined on the world market controlled by the West, and my intuition tells me they always quote prices which benefit them.

A woman hawks soft brinks(soda) produced by giant multinational corporations. Most of the items hawked on the streets in Ghana are either produced by these giants or imported.
A woman hawks soft brinks(soda) produced by giant multinational corporations. Most of the items hawked on the streets in Ghana are either produced by these giants or imported.

For some reason governments haven’t  find it necessary to create an atmosphere which will equip its citizens to be self sufficient and contribute meaningfully to the development of the nation. The nation has failed to properly educate it citizens, failed to create an education model which will widen the worldview of its citizens, instill a sense of nationalism and make them problem solvers. Instead governments have operated a colonial system which makes the people dependent on the government for jobs and other needs.

Ghana has an industrial sector which is heavily controlled by foreign Multinational Corporations who have clever means of evading tax – with the corrupt nature of our politicians making things easy for them. Club beer which happens to be the nation’s most popular beer is produced by ABL which is owned by the  brewing giant SABMiller, a company owned by Anheuser-Busch InBev headquartered in Belgium – you see how complex this ownership tree is.

A truck with stout heading for distribution. Guinness Ghana is the largest operator in what i describe as a monopolised stout market.
A truck loaded with stout heading for distribution. Guinness Ghana is the largest operator in what i describe as a monopolised stout market.

FYI, ABL is listed on the Ghana Stock Exchange at GHc 0.10 per share, whiles its parent company Anheuser-Busch InBev is listed on the NYSE at US$105.85 a share. ABL also happens to be the second largest brewery in Ghana, second to Guinness Ghana with whom it shares a monopolised market. This is the same story in other consumer goods production, health products, mining, petroleum, real estate, hotel, retail…

The over reliance on the government to meet the needs of the people coupled with corruption, mismanagement and pressure from other invisible forces, has made it impossible for governments to create an enabling environment for local business to thrive and compete with their multinational counterparts. Owning and operating a manufacturing company in Ghana is capital intensive, so only the big guys survive.

Lack of appropriate policies and enforcement has also opened up the retail market; this has led to it being flooded by foreign businesses who stock their shops with good produced outside the country rendering our currency to a hairline in the currency market storm.

A football match being played on a school's playing field in Tema. Tema is Ghana's first industrial and harbour city built the first president in 1962
A football match being played on a school’s playing field in Tema. Tema is Ghana’s first industrial and harbour city built the first president in 1962

Today the government talks about industrialising the country through public private partnership, this they plan to do in the midst of economic hardship with high inflation, lack of reliable affordable power, high indebtedness, poor transport infrastructure and a local market who can’t afford goods because its prices weighs down their menial income. So even should this industrialisation happen through PPP, I guess you know who will be the private in that equation. Plus in this new age, more factories do not translate to more jobs – technology got the jobs.

I am no expert in economics, finance or governance for that matter but I have fair knowledge on the history of developed nations and our country’s current trend does not lead to a developed and sovereign destination. I can’t prove Samia’s “Babylon system” accusation, but look around you and you will see it operating and if we have the interest of this nation, our generation and the next’s interest at heart, then we have to familiarise ourselves with this mole, talk about it and find means to shut it.

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