This was the fifth Ghana Economic Forum (GEF) and this time I was there. For two days – August 17 and 18 – the big names in business, policy making and policy advocacy met at the Movinpick Ambassador Hotel in Accra met to deliberate on issues centered around the theme: A Ghanaian-owned Economy. This year’s event also featured the first GEF Excellence Awards.
Policymakers admit challenges, say things are getting better
Finance Minister, Seth Terkper, spoke on the first day and admitted challenges with the power crises, macroeconomic stability and public financial management but then said that things were getting better as indicated by lower deficits and a slower accumulation of debt. The BoG Governor, Dr Issahaku, surprised me by not only talking about the tight monetary policy starting to rein in inflation but going ahead to stress the importance of structural reforms in public financial management, infrastructure development and governance. Regular stuff mostly, except for the reforms call from the BoG governor.
Ghanaian businesses love government intervention
While in other parts of the world business wants government to do as little as possible (or so they claim) there appears to be a lot that Ghanaian businesses want government to do. From infrastructure development to direct support for business to human capital development, businesses thought that government could do much better to help them thrive.
Technology talk without technology folk
One theme in almost all discussions was the need for technology. Technology has contributed immensely to the economic growth of developed countries and the rapidly growing developing countries and it is essential that we embrace technology if we are to develop. It was therefore disappointing that more technology companies were not present at GEF. Kweku Sakyi Addo of the Ghana Chamber of Telecommunications was there, some telcos were there, TeleData-ICT was there, Archie-Hesse of GHIPSS was also there. But it would’ve been good to see more private companies and startups who are using technology to solve problems.
Dalex Finance was awarded the business of the year. I do like the way they have embraced mobile money and are offering many financial services through it. I also like how they focus on rural folk most. Congratulations to them.
Looking forward to next year
Next year I hope to see more celebration of successful Ghanaian businesses outside the financial sector. Let’s see successful e-commerce startups, manufacturers, courier services and others. The banks and other financial houses are doing great but they need to have people taking risks in producing stuff for them to finance.
You can see pictures from the event here.