OPINION: These are the highlights from the NPP Manifesto for the 2016 election that concern me.
Full disclosure, I am a socially liberal male software developer and entrepreneur/freelancer/artist under 30, living in Accra.
I am pro Western-style economic and social development, who will benefit greatly from an economy that is well-integrated into the global economy such that national lines blur in the areas of business, travel and communication.
I am looking forward to a comfortable early retirement without a government pension, in a country of my choosing.
Some more disclosure of the things I personally want from my government, as a Ghanaian. These things/concerns were drawn out based on the struggles I’ve faced as a young adult in the country. Prior to this, I was not aware of the actual policies of any of the contenders, so this is just me, unprimed :
- Acquiring a passport should be quick, without stress and without corruption
- Internal flights should be cheaper
- Roads should be more efficient to reduce rush-hour traffic to and from Accra
- Acquiring a .gh domain name should be easy, so we won’t have to append “ghana” to our domain names
- Internet services should be cheap, so more people can get online and use them for their benefit
- Enforce electronic transactions for some services to improve monitoring and fight money laundering, as well as force behaviour change in Ghanaians away from cash-based transacting.
- Reduce corporate taxes so more of us engage in business ventures and employ more Ghanaians to make the lives of Ghanaians better
- Improve infrastructure (like Internet access, office spaces, power and roads, housing) so businesses can take advantage of a more friendly environment.
- Automate government processes to speed up work and reduce corruption (eg, passport office, getting a driver’s license)
- Go nuclear, for cheaper energy
- Solar energy should be cheaper, so more people take it up and get off the national grid
- Food and accommodation should in Accra should be cheap so people can spend more time earning money to improve their lives, rather than struggle to survive
After reading through Nana’s manifesto, here is how his plans align with my concerns:
- Improve financial inclusion and electronic payments
- Create a national database to link NHIS, passport data and other national identification to increase tax inclusion to formalise the economy
- Reduce corporate taxes from 25% to 20%
- Remove 17.5% VAT on financial services, local flights, and return to a flat 3% flat tax for small businesses
- Provide tax rebates to businesses that hire fresh graduates from the Universities
- Allocate land in every region for the development of specific business areas (think: sector specific Silicon Valleys dotted around the country)
- Reduce import tariffs and make importing goods into the country easier, less prone to corruption
- With the private sector, include a factory in every district in the country
- Create a National Industrial Sub-contracting Exchange to link SMEs with large scale enterprises
- Invest in Natural Gas as a long-term energy strategy
- Power government buildings with solar energy
- Incentivise post-harvest businesses in the agric sector
- Create a Light-Rail System to facilitate transport to urban areas from residences
- Build two harbours in Jamestown and Keta, while benchmarking harbours with current world class destinations such as Dubai
- Build more flood drains in Accra
- Automate access to public services
- Create a Presidential Advisory Council for Science and Technology
- Introduce the History of Ghana in the primary-level curriculum
- Include childhood, prostate and breast cancers under NHIS
- Institute periodic asset declaration for government appointees
Out of all these goodies (\uD83D\uDE0D) the only one I strongly disagree with is the bet on Natural Gas as a long-term energy strategy for the country. Fossil fuels are, aside being non-renewable and hazardous to the environment (carbon emissions, all that stuff) they are extremely inefficient in that they cost significantly to produce enough energy.
On the other hand, nuclear energy, while being cataclysmic in its danger when mishandled, is far cleaner and more efficient (which means: cheaper) than fossil fuels, and is less restricted to specific geographies (like hydro power). There are many companies and countries that have decades of experience handling nuclear material safely. Any fears of the dangers of civilian nuclear energy can be taken care of by industry that, acting in its best interest, will work toward making the technology safe for us.
In fact, my hope of a nuclear Ghana was first stirred when Akuffo-Addo hinted at that in a publication in the Daily Graphic. I imagined Ghanaians will succumb to the FUD about nuclear energy that has dogged the technology since its discovery, which were recently heightened in Europe and Japan after the Fukushima tsunami. When a leading, then-incumbent politician hinted at this direction, I had my hopes up, because in nuclear power lies a great solution to our countries energy situation.
Other than this, I feel confident that, if Nana Akuffo-Addo is able to carry out his agenda, my life (and the lives of many, many other Ghanaians) will be much better than it has been.
Cheaper transport, more infrastructure to lean on, less corrupt bureaucracy, cheaper food and lower taxes are things a modern nation need. Let’s hope that’s what Ghanaians have voted for in 2016.
- Akpene Kudjo