Nana, will your factories collapse?

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Dear Nana Akufo-Addo

I congratulate you on your victory in the recent general elections. I look forward to your swearing-in on January 7.

I watched your inspiring victory speech on TV and that night I saw a different Nana Akufo-Addo compared to the one I had seen on the campaign trail.

You were calm, sounded uniting and you were very emotional to the point that your ‘beautiful Rebecca’ had to wipe a few tears from her eyes on the night. It surely was a sweet victory after many years of struggle and character assassination. Congratulations, again!

Nana, your emphatic victory no doubt means that the Ghanaian people wanted something different from what they were getting. Your victory means that you had a message and the Ghanaian electorate, many of whom are Millennials, believe in you and your message of hope.

After the elections, many people including some leading members of your party have opined that you won this year’s election because the party was vigilant and it invested heavily in ICT. That is also another way to look at it.

Be it as it may, Sir, no matter how vigilant the party was, no matter how much the part spent on ICT infrastructure, regardless of whomever the party brought down from wherever to lead its ICT team, your victory would have been difficult if you did not have a message that appealed to the electorate.

You made a lot of promises even though you were not certain how much will be left in the national kitty as of the morning of Monday, January 9 when you officially sit in your Flag Staff House office as President of the Republic of Ghana.

Truth be told, not all the promises you made during the campaign would be fulfilled in your first term as President and I believe that if you and your government explain things to Ghanaians and in time, they will understand and maybe give you more time to accomplish the rest.

Nana, there are, however, some prominent promises you made that if Ghanaians do not see action on those fronts immediately, not only will they find it difficult to forgive you but you will also give your opponents some message for election 2020. One of these promises is your flagship one district, one factory.

Growing up in Kwamoano, I saw my ‘uncles’ go to work in the local factory. They worked in the Twifo Oil Palm Plantation (TOPP), a palm oil processing factory, as factory hands and they lived fairly decent lives.

The period between JSS and Cape Tech, I worked as a farm boy in the plantation and in fact during my days in Cape Tech, I would take vacation jobs as a farm boy to enable me to make some money for school. It was in this same factory that I did my first industrial attachment as an engineering student.

My father, together with thousands of other farmers in the district benefited from the company’s out-grower scheme which enabled them to plant and maintain their own oil palm plantation and sold the produce to the company as raw materials. In addition, TOPP has thousands of hectors of oil palm plantation and this together with what it purchases from the local out grower farmers has constantly fed the plant which was built decades ago, to this date.

This one company in the then one district (TwifoHemang Lower Denkyira District) now TwifoAti-Mokwa and Hemang Lower Denkyira Districts, has contributed immensely to poverty reduction in that area of the Central Region.

According to a 2015 Ghana Statistical Service Poverty mapping report, these two districts are among the less poor in the Central Region. This is how one factory can contribute to the social-economic development of the area in which it operates. This is one of the reasons your promise to build one of such factories in every district in Ghana was heavily bought into by the electorate.

Nana, in the same Central Region, is the Komenda Sugar factory which was built by Dr Kwame Nkrumah but became defunct in the 1980s and was recently revived by your ‘predecessor’. As you know, this factory had to shut down immediately after the heavily-budgeted inauguration because of raw material scarcity.

Permit me to remind you of the Ayensu Starch Factory also in the same region which was built by the previous NPP government under the watch of the man you intend to appoint as your Trade and Industry Minister, which is also suffering from the raw material scarcity syndrome.

In my lifetime, I have seen the Akwatia Diamond mine revived and collapsed a few times. I have seen the Abboso Glass factory and the Bonsah Tire Factory in their current rotten state. The Pwalugu Tomato factory and many other state-owned factories have all collapsed as I write.

Sir, I’m confident that as someone who has been in active politics for a long time and with your brilliant economist Veep, you know the causes of all these failed factories and so the ones you intend to build, either with state funds or through private partnerships, will not end up getting rotten too.

Our President-Elect who is also learned, please allow me to flex a little. As someone who majored in Industrial Engineering and having been in industry for over a decade, I’d group the problems with these failed factories into three; inputs, internal processes and product consumption.

Sir, as you know, the factories that will be built under your tenure as President, will only outlive your presidency and become assets to the next generation if there is a continuous and sustainable supply of raw materials to feed those factories.

I imagine many of the factories will be in the area of agro-processing.

When this aspect of the value chain is managed properly, farmers will be happy to produce more knowing that there would be a ready market and better prices for their produce. This will create jobs in the farming communities.

It is, therefore, important that the factories you will build are located at places where there will be enough raw materials and not just as a thank you gifts to the constituencies that voted massively for you.

Nana, when the time comes to build the factories please task your appointees to desist from purchasing plant equipment from a certain Asian country just because they are cheap in price. In physical asset lifecycle management, it is the total cost of owning a piece of equipment that matters and not the initial acquisition cost.

If the factories you build will be profitable, then the plants have to be reliable, maintainable and the original equipment manufacturers must be excellent at providing after sales support. Please let the many Kuffour buses that were grounded for spare parts unavailability be your guide in this regard.

Sir, if you appoint constituency party leaders who know nothing about people and working capital management to be managers of the firms, your factories will collapse. If the factories employ workers not based on competence but based on those party foot soldiers who have worked so hard for the party, then the factories will collapse.

If you don’t fix the energy issues, then the factories will not have the power to operate, they will collapse.

Lastly, the success of each of the factories that you seek to build in each of the 216 districts in Ghana depends largely on the ‘consumability’ of the products that they would churn out. They must produce products that Ghanaians will be happy and willing to purchase and consume, and must be of the quality that can stand the tough competition in global manufacturing.

If the factories are only good at building their finished goods inventory, then working capital will suffer, there will be serious cashflow issues and the factories will eventually join the Ghana Collapsed Factories league.

Sir, your Veep as an economist knows that if the other sectors of the economy are left unattended to, then the citizenry will not have enough disposable income to purchase and consume what will be produced by the 216 factories.

I sincerely wish you the very best of luck and I hope that you will be a firm and a disciplinarian leader who will bring some sanctity into public service in Ghana.

Please lead Ghana to WORK AGAIN.