Universities Must Help Build Stronger Economies-Dr. Bawumia

The Vice President, Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia, has called on universities to play their role in nurturing and stimulating creative thinking, undertaking research on problems confronting society and informing policy making. “Universities must see themselves also at the heart of helping to build stronger economies and stronger societies” Dr. Bawumia made the call when he delivered the 3rd Advancement Lecture Series organised by the Institutional Advancement Office on the topic: “Developing Stronger Economies for African Continent: The Missing Link”. The Vice President said the recently introduced Free SHS policy signaled government’s determination to ensure that the greatest number of young people gain access to pre-university education. “Our approach to building a stronger economy must begin with the ambition and commitment to intensify the development of our human capabilities. We cannot advance in technological innovation, we cannot take advantage of technology transfer and adoption, we cannot nurture entrepreneurial skills without an inclusive access to education”, he said. The Vice President noted that Africa’s economic performance historically has been driven by resource exploitation and exports of unprocessed raw materials. “Our economies are vulnerable to commodity price shocks, sudden and unanticipated declines in prices of our commodity exports trigger revenue shortfalls and undermine our ability to implement budgets and to manage our public finances”, he said. Low value addition to both our agriculture products and mineral resources and by exporting raw materials we are unable to use these natural resources as the basis to industrialise and expand our productive capacities. Dr. Bawumia said historically, many Ghanaians have been excluded from schooling because of inability to pay fees. He spoke on the topic: “Developing Stronger Economies for African Continent: The Missing Link”. “So our strategy is to strive for inclusion to build our productive capacities. This strategy has however got to be underpinned by a commitment to fiscal discipline and macroeconomic stability to be sustainable”. The Vice President who advocated for the building of science and technology and rapid technological capacities because the world now lived in a rapidly changing technology adding that part of the missing link of productive capacity has to do with our infrastructural constraints in energy, transportation, communication and utilities. He indicated that the new path to chart was to embrace renewable energy as the primary source of energy for homes offices and public facilities. For this reason, the Vice President announced that government has introduced a policy of no power purchase agreements for thermal plants saying “Henceforth we will only sign PPAs for renewable energy”. In providing the missing link, he said another area of building a strong economy is in institutional and governance capacity through harnessing information communication technology. To make this possible Dr. Bawumia indicated that currently, there was an institutional reform in registering businesses and license renewal by introducing online registration of businesses. Another critical area being looked at is the introduction of Digital Address System with unique postal codes for every location within Ghana, Dr. Bawumia said. According to the Vice President, this would make Ghana leapfrog most advanced countries in the world as far as addressing is concerned. He added that there would also be the introduction of National Identification Cards. To achieve a more inclusive financial sector, the Vice President said an inter-operability payment system will be introduced soon. He said having an interoperable payments system between banks, mobile operators and other financial and non-financial sectors players enables people to make payments in a more convenient, affordable, fast, seamless and secure way with one account. According to Dr. Bawumia there were substantial benefits of these measures for the management of the economy and in all aspect of decision- making and planning. “They help in better targeting in the delivery of public services whether it is in education, health and other social services in line with the three fundamental SDGs”. “In building our human capital capabilities, the days of schooling for schooling sake, the ‘chew, pour pass and forget” syndrome are over. Free SHS is not a bargain for low quality”. He said developing stronger economies required transforming agriculture and food systems to cope with the pressures of population growth, demographic dynamics and food security. In addition to this, he called for a change in attitudes in the way we deal with our common wealth, saying: “Those who steal from the common wealth through embezzlement and corruption undermine our collective ability to build stronger economies”. He wondered whether in an attempt to build a stronger economy as a country, Ghanaians want to remain a resource-based economy, extracting and exporting our diminishing resource endowments; depend on generosity of others through aid or want to a knowledge-intensive and innovation-based inclusive economy. “Ultimately strong economies are built on the back of strong and steadily expanding productive capacity and on sound economic governance”, he stated.