Corruption: Africa’s biggest industry, says Professor Kwabena Frimpong-Boateng – By Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe, Jnr. Ph.D.

Professor Frimpong Boateng

At a Citi-Fm-sponsored summit on innovative development on Saturday, June 24, the Minister of the Environment, Science and Innovation was reported to have said that the biggest industry on the African continent at the moment was corruption, the wanton stealing of capital and monetary resources meant for the development of the various individual countries on the continent (See “Africa Has Biggest ‘Corruption Industry’ – Professor Frimpong-Boateng” / 6/25/17).

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Years ago, when Gen. Colin Luther Power, the former Chairman of the Joint-Chiefs-of-Staff of the United States’ Military, and subsequently the first African-American Secretary-of-State, paid a working visit to the then-Abacha-ruled Nigeria, the first Black head of the putatively most powerful military establishment in the world at the time reported that the second most corrupt country in the world was West Africa’s most populous country. According to Gen. Powell, Pakistan was easily the most corrupt country in the world. The Jamaican-descended Gen. Powell went on to back up his assertion with details that I cannot readily recall.

But, of course, it ought to be borne in mind that Pakistan is a globally recognized nuclear power, but Nigeria is not. According to Prof. Kwabena Frimpong-Boateng, Ghana may very well have lost some GH₵ 40 billion through corruption between 2008 and 2016, when the democratic reins of governance were held, respectively, by President John Evans Atta-Mills, late, and John Dramani Mahama, both of the Rawlings-founded National Democratic Congress (NDC). Which, of course, is in no way to imply that corruption had been nonexistent under the John Agyekum-Kufuor-led government of the New Patriotic Party (NPP), for corruption among the ranks of the key operatives of the Kufuor government had been as equally well and alive as it had been under the tandem tenures of not only Messrs. Atta-Mills and Mahama, but also under the protracted tenure of NDC’s founding-patriarch, Chairman Jerry John Rawlings.

The difference here, though, not that it really matters, is that under the tenure of President Kufuor, Ghana’s economy more than quadrupled in capacity, although some of his most ardent supporters and advocates still felt that the pace of development in the country was unacceptably snail-paced. President Kufuor had himself not helped matters, when in response to widespread and bitter complaints about the perception of wanton corruption by some of the key players of his administration, Mr. Kufuor riposted to a British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) television reporter that “Corruption is as old as Adam and Eve.” These immortalized, albeit hardly responsible, words have made it extremely difficult to defend the largely unproven corruption charges against some prominent members of the Kufuor government, including the protagonist himself.

Matters were also not helped, when the extant National Chairman of the ruling party was summarily suspended from his post for allegedly claiming that President Kufuor had converted the Osu Castle, the seat of government at the time, into a payola-receiving center. But, unarguably, the most significant statement made by Prof. Frimpong-Boateng at the Citi-Fm-sponsored Innovation Summit, was the immediate and imperative need for President Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo to raise funding for research to a remarkably more decent and progressive level of at least 1-percent of the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP), from the present inexcusably embarrassing level of 0.025 percentage of Ghana’s GDP.

In other words, according to the Minister of the Environment, Science and Innovation, to make a remarkable dent in research funding, the current level of government funding for high-end research may have to be increased by at least ten-fold. I would go even a little further to advise that government funding for research be upped to at least 2-percent of the nation’s GDP, if Ghana is to favorably compete on the global market of academic and professional respectability. But even more significantly, the sort of regressive partisan politicking that characterized research funding for our public tertiary academies under the Mahama government, must be promptly discarded or eschewed.

Our researchers also need to be organically linked to industry to ensure the prompt and effective utilization of cutting-edge research production. It also means that industry’s input or funding of innovative research must be significantly increased, if President Akufo-Addo’s Industrial Revolution is to have a far-reaching impact.

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