Sirr Reuben Writes: The Contrast; Ghana vs Malaysia, 62 Years after Independence

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Independence gave the people of Ghana and Malaysia equal right to determine their own destiny, sense of identity, participate in international activities, and control their own resources.

But upon a careful study of Ghana and Malaysia, both been a previous colony of the British kingdom but achieved independence in the year 1957 together, Malaysia as a country has far been progressive than Ghana, countless questions hover in my head, questions like why has Ghana’s development been so different and quite slothful from Malaysia since independence?

Questions like what exactly did Malaysia do differently and better?
In my quest to find answers to these mind-boggling questions, I realized that the level of development in any country is influenced by several factors.

In the case of these two countries, out of the main factors contributing to the differences are leadership, Political stability, Investment in education, Product diversification in the economy, the local population’s entrepreneurship ability, the economic impact of neighbouring countries, diversification in the economy and many more.

Let us examine a few of the above influences and clasp specifically what Ghana is not doing right or what must be enhanced in order to make the Ghanaian Economy a flamboyant one.
Political stability: Malaysia and Ghana inherited British political institutions but the political tendency fluctuated greatly soon after independence. The Malaysian political structure was able to endure some challenges over time which heightened and secured their political stability.

Malaysia has three major communal parties. Under British supervision, the three parties formed an alliance called the Alliance Party or National Front. They established a working relationship that has become the hallmark of Malaysian politics since independence. Malaysia holds democratic elections every five years which has resulted in consistent policies, continuity, and much political stability that Malaysia needed to achieve a high rate of economic growth.

Ghana has about 24 registered political parties under the current fourth republic according to the electoral commission that are endowed with great but diverse ideologies which can change the fortune of our cherished country but division has made the enactment of these ideologies futile, my thought is, why won’t all these political parties come into a consensus, form a common alliance and run the economy?

Export-led Industrialization: Under the leadership of Dr Mahathir Mohammad, the fourth prime minister, the government pushed the country through export-led industrialization of the type adopted by other Asian countries. The government wanted the private sector to be the driving force of economic progress.

Export-led growth is a trade and economic policy aiming to speed up the industrialization process of a country by exporting goods for which the nation has a comparative advantage. But in the case of Ghana, we prefer the importation of foreign goods to our own locally manufactured products, which means we always have to carry huge sum of money from the country to import products including toothpick from other countries.

Friendly Economic Environment: The Malaysian political system has produced a friendly economic atmosphere that attracts foreign investment. Direct foreign investment in Malaysia have facilitated the transfer of technology and skills to local businesses, access to international markets by local firms, and capital formation in the country.

Diversification in the economy: Both Malaysia and Ghana started off as primary goods producers with few products. After independence, the Malaysian government made a strong effort to diversify not only the agricultural sector but also manufacturing. Malaysia has reduced its dependence on agricultural exports. For example, she has become one of the largest producers of semiconductor devices in the world.

Effects of the neighbouring economy: the performance of the Malaysian economy is linked to its surrounding nations in East Asia. Malaysia, strategically as it is in the vibrant economic region has benefited from close association with economic Powers such as Japan, Taiwan, South Korea, Singapore and Hong Kong.
A large amount of trade and direct investments among these regional countries led to very rapid economic development. Thus, with the help of more industrialized countries like Japan, Malaysia built a strong industrial economy.

In the case of Ghana, numerous errors were committed by our leaders after independence. These mistakes include political Dictatorship, mismanagement of resources, and our inability to change the colonial education and economy.
We also depended on agricultural produce for exports which was generating revenue, but the situation worsened because of poor attitude of workers and frequent military intervention.

Lessons from the Malaysian experience means that Ghanaians as a whole need to change their attitudes and to work hard to maintain the freedom and the dignity that independence brings.
We need develop the human force as well and also Ghanaian entrepreneurs must be supported by the Government to bring their ideas into reality. We must also exhibit good work ethics and have the will power to struggle for the best, developing good international relationships and cooperation that will boost investment, trade and development assistance from other countries for national development.

Political independence without economic freedom is meaningless. True independence requires good planning and focus on goals for development.

By: Sirr Reuben

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