The State of Dependency
Today, Ghana is more dependent on the rest of the world than Gold Coast, under British colonial rule. The reason for our dependence could be traced to two factors—leadership and citizenship or patriotism. But there is a third factor that combines the prior factors—self-reliance. While it may be difficult to admit, as a people, we have lost confidence in the ability to independently govern, feed or heal ourselves. So, we depend on the global system to supply us everything we need in exchange for our fixed natural endowments.
It is no secret that Ghana imports everything including sadly, policy ideas. The fact that we import everything today is one thing. But what should worry us the most is the long term destruction of our capacity to innovate. The potential erosion of our capacity to innovate is manifest in the impulse to import toothpicks rather make it. Or the general lack of confidence or taste for domestic products and services.
Certainly, import or international trade is good given that different countries have the comparative advantage to produce different products. To that end, we should import products that we do not have the comparative advantage to produce and pay for them with products we have the comparative advantage to produce. This high-sounding economic concept is as simple as what our ancestors understood when they barter commodities.
One can go on to paint more graphic pictures of just how dependent we are on the global system, but that would not bring any more clarity than have already been demonstrated. However, it is worth emphasizing that, as a people we must come to appreciate that, we have what it takes to innovate and develop. In other words, cooperate with the global community, but do not become dependent.
Every country is engaged in the quest to advance their people. We as a people must come to do same. We can elect to maintain the status quo, but sooner or later we must deal with the fact that it is impossible to import our way to development. No country has ever done it and, Ghana will not be the first country to do.
If we fail to become productive or innovative, we may enjoy what dependency affords, but certainly we jeopardize posterity because the natural resources that underwrite the non-productive and dependent lifestyle of this generation, will be long gone when the turn of posterity comes. It is almost impossible to imagine what posterity will inherit—if we are running high budget and current account deficits in the midst of relative abundant natural resources. Surely, they too, will lack the capacity to innovate and develop.
It is clear that to develop, we must become—self-reliant. This means taking ownership: (1) to become productive or do for ourselves what we have the ability to do; (2) to develop or imagine new ways to solve current problems; (3) to spend what we earn or live within our means and cease borrowing excessively; (4) understand that we have but one country and the earlier we learn to develop it, the better (5) and most importantly, we must embrace the generational responsibility to do our part to move the dream of developing Ghana forward.