By Dr. Edwin Acheampong (CEO of Knowledge Kinetics Organisation)
It is said that even the dead want to increase their numbers. As humans, we desire to improve our conditions and environment as a ceaseless aspiration. Graduates from the university and other tertiary institutions begin to frantically look for a job or pursue one kind of entrepreneurial training or another soon after their National Service assignments. Thus, the President’s call and wish for a Ghana beyond financial aid over sixty years after independence are laudable. But a Ghana that is self-sufficient economically but ‘warped intellectually’ can be likened to fetching water into a barrel that is ruptured at the bottom. Indeed, gains anticipated under a Ghana beyond financial aid will be eroded by the corrosive impact of corruption, inefficiency, and wastage fueled by a somewhat nationwide intellectual stupor as explained in this article.
According to the World Bank, what determines the standard of living of a group is not financial independence or availability of resources; but rather the use of knowledge – its exploration and exploitation. “For countries in the vanguard of the world economy, the balance between knowledge and resources have shifted so far towards the former that knowledge has perhaps become the most important factor determining the standard of living…today’s most technologically advanced economies are truly knowledge-based,” the World Bank asserts.
The World Bank’s assertion is informed by the current knowledge economy phenomenon. Knowledge has become the most important factor of production and a critical resource for competitive advantage. The World Bank studied Ghana’s Knowledge Economy prospects nearly two decades ago – in September 2003.
World Bank’s Assessment of Ghana’s Knowledge Economy Prospects
A World Bank’s Knowledge for Development Policy Workshop (KDPW) held between May and September 2002 for Ghana, Tanzania, and Uganda, prepared a knowledge economy benchmark assessment of Ghana and the other countries. Inputs received from participants formed the basis of a Preliminary Knowledge Economy Assessment of Ghana Report issued by the World Bank in September 2003. A preliminary observation based on data analyzed including the Human Development Index (HDI), showed that Ghana had had a steady growth in human development and per capita income over 20 years, but its growth performance could have been improved.
The report revealed that Ghana risked falling further behind because it was not exploiting its potential and was not tapping into global knowledge. Ghana was urged to develop strategies to use existing and new knowledge to improve performance in the traditional sectors and to develop competitive new sectors. It was also suggested that Ghana must assess where it stood in terms of progress towards becoming a knowledgeable society and also learn from other countries.
In the estimation of the World Bank, overall, in terms of its ability to compete in aknowledge-driven global economy, Ghana’s position had improved but not yet to the point where a significant breakthrough could be made in terms of self-sustaining economic growth. According to the World Bank, the challenge for Ghana is how to build on the progress made so far; to take advantage of the opportunities offered by the knowledge-based economy. In other words, Ghana ought to continue to build conditions for more effective creation, access and use of knowledge, while at the same time taking practical steps, driven by knowledge initiatives, to stimulate new forms of income generation. In particular, Knowledge Economy Report encouraged Ghana to raise awareness among policymakers, the private sector and civil society on the challenges and opportunities of the knowledge revolution.
On the way forward for Ghana, the World Bank report proposed the following:
The World Bank also proposed a two-phase option for future work on Ghana’s journey towards becoming a knowledge-based economy. The first phase involved starting a consultative process in-country on how to move ahead with the knowledge economy agenda and the second, a more substantial study designed to go more deeply into some identified key issues for Ghana to present more detailed recommendations.
From the above assessment by the World Bank, Ghana has a long way to go in its quest to compete favourably in the global knowledge economy. Every facet of the country’s socio-economic life must be made amenable to the reception and use of existing and new knowledge.
Based on a postgraduate research study and relevant information gathered across the public spectrum, Knowledge Kinetics Organisation (2KO), an NGO with a vision to become and remain a strategic partner in Ghana’s quest to become a knowledge-based economy, calls on the President and the Government to pursue a Ghana Beyond Intellectual Aid agenda as a precursor to a Ghana that will be recognized as financially self-sustaining and enjoy a high standard of living. Ghana will be beyond intellectual aid if knowledge resources strewn across the country’s academic and research institutions are vigorously exploited, applied and used to improve efficiency in every facet of national development. In other words, it is only when Ghana is able to make the maximum use of its intellectual resources and the evidence of such a feat permeates the economy, that a Ghana beyond financial aid will make any meaningful impact on the life of the average Ghanaian.
A Ghana in need of intellectual aid – Manifestations of intellectual dependence, decrepitude
In terms of the World Bank’s assertion that advancement in economic development depends on the use of knowledge resources, all signs and manifestations of ignorance and deliberate misapplication of knowledge; disuse/abandonment of expert knowledge and know-how; lack of common sense; intellectual dishonesty; inability to connect to global knowledge resources and learn from other countries; and lack of conscious efforts to bridge information and knowledge gap, depict a country that requires intellectual aid; that is a country that is intellectually dependent, decrepit and indolent.
That, Ghana’s economy needs to be knowledge-based is admitted by the Vice President when he stated that the Government’s pursuit of a Free SHS Policy is in part a strategy to propel Ghana into the Knowledge Economy. According to the World Bank, the Knowledge Economy has four pillars and Education is one of them. The other three are Institutional and Economic Regime, Information Technology, and Innovation.
So, specifically, what will a Ghana that has transcended intellectual aidor has become intellectually independent look like, at least from the public sector perspective? Generally, the private sector is considered as the engine of growth and the public sector the oil that lubricates this growth engine. Therefore, all things being equal, let us assume a public sector beyond intellectual aid can serve as a proxy for a Ghana beyond intellectual aid. If we accept this reasoning, let us assess some of the happenings in the public sector or that are public sector related, that connoteintellectualdeficiency and that find expression in the intellectual aidmanifestations or signed enumerated above:
The National Public Sector Reform Strategy
The National Public Sector Reform Strategy (NPSRS) is one government strategy that can leverage Ghana’s intellectual awareness by fostering the application and use of knowledge resources within the public sector.
The NPSRS easily qualifies to be construed as a giant step by the Government of Ghana, under the leadership of His Excellency, Nana AddoDankwaAkufoAddo, to not only sanitize the public sector but to give the citizenry and the private sector a fair deal through enhanced public service delivery. With a vision to create a responsive, efficient and effective public sector which places the catalytic role of the government at the centre of all its policies to support the private sector in job and wealth creation, at the core of NPSRS is the desire to improve performance of the public sector to be responsive to the needs of citizens and the private sector for a sustained national development.
It is heartwarming to note that the NPSRS also aims at reorienting public sector actors and institutions to provide the enabling environment for rapid gains in private sector competitiveness. However, the government’s commitment to supporting the public sector to deliver cutting-edge services to citizens and the private sector to lead the job creation agenda on a sustained basis should not be mere rhetoric. Potent management principles must be adopted by the implementers of the NPSRS to realize this lofty vision
Beginning the journey to a Ghana Beyond Intellectual Aid
The Knowledge Kinetics Organisation (2KO) has launched the Knowledge Ghana Project to support the implementation of the National Public Sector Reform Strategy (NPSRS). The NGO calls on the Office of the Senior Minister, the Ministry of Monitoring and Evaluation and the Ministry of Environment, Science, Technology, and Innovation, among others, to support the Knowledge Ghana Project to transition the Ghanaian public sector beyond intellectual aid.
To begin the journey towards a Ghana Beyond Intellectual Aid by creating the needed awareness and generating the required interest, 2KO and Multimedia Ghana Limited will launchGhana Beyond Intellectual Aid Initiative (GBIAI) and the Intellectual Aid Index (IAI) in due course. While the initiative attempts to explain and demonstrate the gross disregard for knowledge resources in public administration in particular, and in the country at large, the index (and chart and codes) will give statistical evidence of the existence and perpetuity of the phenomenon.
It is the expectation of the proponents of Ghana Beyond Intellectual Aid Initiative that the good people of Ghana will embrace this novel initiative and support the delivery of a nation-transforming agenda that seeks to:
Edwin Acheampong, PhD
CEO, Knowledge Kinetics Organisation (2KO)