There are times in the history of a country when leaders are given the opportunity to do something massive and substantial that impacts the destiny of their countries and changes completely the trajectory in which they were headed. It has happened in the history of many nations, and has happened in our country too. Just take the economic boom times of the Clinton administration in the United States and compare it to the war-mongering Gorge Bush, whose focus on two unjust wars, left his county’s economy in shambles by the time he left office. The only way the current President, Mr. Obama, could change his country’s trajectory was to do something massive and substantial, by way of an ambitious $787 billion stimulus federal spending package, designed to revive the economy of the US and save millions of jobs! The same president made history recently when he passed the healthcare reform bill, which will cost American taxpayers an estimated $940 billion over 10 years, expanding healthcare to 32 million more people, predominantly the poorest, and giving the country 95% coverage. Never in the history of the United States was this done by any of his predecessors in the last 224 years of American history! Never!
In the history of Ghana, no other President has had a better opportunity than Kwame Nkrumah of blessed memory, who used his position as the first leader of a young, burgeoning nation to massively change the face of his country and lay the foundations on which we stand proudly today. From 1957 through 1966 when he was overthrown, Kwame Nkrumah built the Akosombo dam, an alumina smelter plant by Valco, the Tema and Takoradi harbors, the Tema township, Korle Bu and Komfo Anokye hospitals, hundreds of secondary and primary schools, two universities in Cape Coast and Kumasi, lots of government-owned corporations, the various government ministries and departments, et cetera. Nothing of such magnitude has ever been done in our country since Kwame Nkrumah left the scene in 1966. Not even close!
If there was ever another opportunity for a president in Ghana to do something massive to impact the trajectory of our country, this is it! If there was ever a time the president of our country could rise to the occasion, seize the opportunity and change the face of this nation again by doing something big that he will forever be remembered for like Kwame Nkrumah did, this is that moment, folks!
Our nation has just signed into law a $10 billion housing deal in favor of a Korean–owned company called STX to build 200,000 houses for our country. I wrote a previous article on this subject (http://www.ghanaweb.com/GhanaHomePage/NewsArchive/artikel.php?ID=185272) in which I stated: “Seriously, by this STX deal, the government of Ghana is simply creating the blueprint for Ghanaian real estate developers to DEMAND EQUAL OPPORTUNITY from future governments”. Barely one month after I wrote that article, here comes our own country’s association of real estate developers, GREDA, with their own proposal to build 300,000 houses over the same 10-year period, at the cost of $7 billion – clearly $3 billion cheaper and 100,000 more houses than the Koreans can do. How prophetic those predictions of mine have turned out to be now, barely one month after I made them! And how in the world could we refuse this proposal by our own countrymen, after fighting so hard to approve the package presented to us by foreigners? How could we even think about ignoring our own countrymen this time around? How dare we?
If a president could ever get the opportunity to do something big and massive, and impact the destiny of his country, this is it! Mr. President, take this GREDA deal now and change the economic fortunes of your beloved country FOREVER! If you do so, Sir, here is how, in very simple, ordinary, layman’s terms (Ghanaians can easily understand) you will impact the economy of our country in so many ways for years and years to come:
- Between the Koreans and GREDA, you will have built 500,000 houses in 10 years and reduced the current housing deficit by 50%. Not a bad record in the history of this country, Sir!
- You will have our cement factories busy for the next 10 years.
- Our roofing materials factories will be buzzing for the next 10 years.
- Our wood and timber processing factories will be humming for the next 10 years.
- Our cement block-making masons will be busy for the next 10 years.
- You will be keeping our electricity, water, telephone and their associated industries extremely busy and working hard to lay down pipelines, telephone and electricity lines to all these 500,000 homes in the next 10 years.
- You will be keeping our road construction crews very, very, happy and busy for the next 10 years, building several trunk and feeder roads to wherever all these houses will be built.
- You will have all the “polytank” drum manufacturers extremely busy, producing at least one billion (each house always comes with two tanks) of those big drums to be filled with water in these 500,000 houses.
- And those metal gate manufacturers you see all over town will be creating 500,000 metal gates of different sizes and designs to protect all these 500,000 homes.
- Then you will have provided shelter for 500,000 Ghanaians who will be bringing along their families too; and these 500,000 families will be filling their homes with lots and lots of stuff you can just imagine, Sir!
- 11. If 300,000 of these houses are 3-bedroom units and the remaining 200,000 are 2-bedrooms, you can bet each bedroom will need at least one bed and you will be keeping the bed, mattress, bed-sheet, pillow and pillow-case factories busy producing nearly 1.5 billion each of these items for all 1.3 billion bedrooms. That’s a lot of business for all these manufacturers.
- Can we imagine how busy Agorwu and other furniture retail stores and manufacturers will become, filling all these houses with living room, dining, bedroom, bathroom and kitchen furniture? Can we imagine how many jobs will be created in this industry alone?
- How many refrigerators, cooking stoves, microwave ovens, and cooking utensils do we need for all these houses?
- How about dining ware, chinaware, glassware, cutlery, et cetera, we need to fill all those kitchen cabinets?
- And the bathtubs, showers, wash basins, mirrors, toilet bowls and toiletries for all these 1.3 billion bathrooms?
- Let’s not even forget about all the telephones, computers, TV sets, music and entertainment gadgets for all these houses.
- How about the curtains, draperies, windows, doors, keys and locks, pictures and decorations adorning the walls in all these houses?
- And the flower gardens, flower pots and greenery to beautify our homes, etc, etc?
- Do we have any idea how many architects, engineers, contractors and tradesmen we are going to need, and how busy our Tema and Takoradi ports will become, importing and hauling some of the materials we need to the various destinations for this massive construction project?
- Can we also imagine how busy our home mortgage companies like HFC, Ghana Home loans and some of our local banks will become, originating loans for the home buyers and fire insurance companies also insuring all these houses? And the property taxes and revenues all these new home buyers will be paying to local government over the years to come?
I could go on and on and on, but I think I have made my point in very, very simple, layman’s terms about the multiplier economic effect this big decision President Mills could make to leave his own imprimatur, not only on our psyche but on the economy of Ghana for many, many years to come. Yes, I know the argument has been made by the naysayers that Ghanaian real estate developers are not serious, and will take the money and run if awarded government contracts. If these arguments were true, Sir, there couldn’t be a better opportunity for GREDA to prove the naysayers wrong if you give them the opportunity this time around, when they have the Koreans on their heels to compete with!
Will you seize this opportunity now, sign an MOU with GREDA (just like you did with the Koreans) and change the face of Ghana FOREVER, Sir?
Peter Atsu Tsikata
Real Estate Consultant
Millennium Properties Ghana Ltd
Web site: www.millenniumtoday.com