I am very happy to be here this afternoon for the official launch of this impressive and beautiful edifice, the Kumasi City Mall. It is an important moment in the growth and development of this vibrant city, Oseikrom, and I commend the Chairman, Kofi Sekyere and the other members of the Board of Directors of Delico Kumasi Ltd., for the vision of this construction, the third in the franchise of the company, following the West Hills Mall in Weija, and the Achimota Retail Centre in Achimota, both in Accra. The Kumasi City Mall has the enviable status of not just being the only mall outside of Accra, but it is now also, arguably, the biggest mall in Ghana and the biggest in West Africa. It, therefore, should not come as a surprise to residents of Kumasi that your compatriots in Accra resorted to poking fun at you and trolled you on Facebook and social media, when this mall opened for business last month. The reason is simple. You have stolen their thunder. They no longer have the bragging rights of having the biggest mall in West Africa. As from this very moment, it is no longer “YƐn nso yƐ wƆ bi”, as I have heard some say here, but “KƐsi no wƆ Kumasi”. KCM, you do all!!
Otumfuo, Nananom, Ladies and Gentlemen, for us in the New Patriotic Party, the party from which my government is borne, the importance of the private sector to the development of our nation’s economy cannot be over-stated. It is the very basis of our economic philosophy, and has been so for the last 70 years. We have never wavered in our belief that, given an enabling environment, the creativity and sense of enterprise of the Ghanaian will enable us to build a strong, powerful economy which can deliver a good, dignified standard of living to our people.
However, since Governor Guggisberg left our shores nearly 90 years ago, the basic structure of our economy has remained largely unchanged. Our economy cannot grow if we remain, primarily, a raw material producing and exporting country. We cannot create the hundreds and hundreds of thousands of jobs for the masses of our young people if the sustenance of our economy is import dependent and import driven, as well as being dependent on raw material exports. As has been made evident in the first Budget of the Akufo-Addo presidency, the Asempa Budget, the economic programme of my government is hinged on the addition of value to our raw materials in a process of rapid industrialization, as we enhance agricultural production and productivity. Our priority is to do all we can to give our entrepreneurs the certainty of a positive business environment, devoid of arbitrary and irrational policy initiatives, so that they can do what they should do best – INVEST IN THE NUMEROUS OPPORTUNITIES TO CREATE JOBS AND PROPSPERITY.
The initiatives introduced in the Budget are aimed at stimulating private sector activity, and shifting the focus of our economy from taxation to production. To this end, I urge the private sector to take advantage of this new focus, which is offering opportunities to local ingenuity and production.
It is not right that our country continues to be a retailer of cheap imported goods, whilst the capacity of our local producers remains weak and their products suffer low patronage. I know very well that, in some of our malls and supermarkets across the country, carrots sold, for example, are imported from Holland. Some of the dressed chickens on sale have also come from Brazil. Indeed, the items originating from Ghana and from our local entrepreneurs constitute barely a paltry 5% of goods on sale. All over the world, new enterprises, such as this mall, have spawned the creation of jobs and investments, and triggered increased local spending. Supermarkets and many shopping malls in several parts of the world, particularly in the advanced economies, have become magnets for production. It is my hope that the Kumasi City Mall will not only be a place for the sale of imported goods, but also Ghanaian goods. For instance, it would be truly commendable if, by the end of the first year of its operation, at least 20% of the goods that are sold here should be of Ghanaian origin, and the percentages increase as Ghanaian industrial production rapidly expands.
I encourage shop owners and supermarkets, like Shoprite, to increase the proportion of Ghanaian goods sold at the shop, by getting more local farmers and entrepreneurs to produce for them. We want Kumasi to be a place of work again, not just a place where people come for funerals. We want to bring jobs back to this city, and restore Kumasi to its position, once again, of being The Garden City. The support government gives to the private sector is intended to translate into greater economic activities of our entrepreneurs, producers and farmers. Kumasi City Mall should bear witness of this increased activity.
Whilst acknowledging the challenges confronting our economy, my government aims to liberate the energies of our young people – harnessing talent and building skills; inspiring innovation and risk taking; connecting to global value chains and, most importantly, nurturing a deep sense of patriotism. To our youth, I encourage you also to take advantage of the immense opportunities this mall presents. Last month, I launched the programme for Planting for Food and Jobs in Goaso, in the Brong Ahafo Region. Organise yourselves and get involved in this initiative. I am certain that my admonition to shop owners of this mall will not go unheard. They will surely buy from you, if your produce meets the standard, which I am confident it can.
Let me use this opportunity to assure the retail business community in the country that government, through the Ministry of Trade and Industry, is adopting relevant, strategic measures to ensure that non-Ghanaians do not engage in petty retail trading. Ghana’s doors will always be open to investors in retail trade, but they must respect the rules and regulations governing the sector. Through the various departments and agencies, we will ensure full compliance of our laws in this regard.
Otumfuo, Nananom, Ladies and Gentlemen, we hope that, as we shape the future of Ghana, we are positioning Ghanaian enterprises to compete effectively in the global market place. There are many of us who will not accept that it is only Asians who can engineer their transition from poverty to prosperity in a generation. We are determined to do that in our generation in Ghana, and ensure that succeeding generations will be neither victims nor pawns of the international economic order. Indeed, the goal is a Ghana beyond aid – a Ghana mobilizing its own human and material resources to build a strong economy capable of generating prosperity for the mass of its people, a Ghana no longer dependent on aid, hand-outs and charity, a Ghana with a competitive private sector.
Once again, congratulations to Kofi Sekyere and the promoters of KCM.
Thank you and may God bless us and our homeland Ghana, and make her great and strong.