Ghana?s Class 1 Economics Lesson For All

Teacher

There are many non-Economist Ghanaians who would love to get a glimpse understanding of the country?s economic situation but who have been prevented from doing so, by the jargon-wielding economist community. I have tried in this article to make the general understanding of our economic situation a little easier to understand for even the layman, in a manner not usually out there:

 

Teacher
Teacher

Okay, you see, Governments are responsible for making a country?s economy and infrastructure work and work well. If they succeed, then the citizens, no matter what business or enterprise or profession they are engaged in, will be successful at creating their own wealth, because the conducive environment and infrastructure and mechanisms have been so created by the government. As a result, citizens generate wealth, some of which can be contributed in the form of Taxes and Levies which Government continually uses to further improve all infrastructure ? health, transport, education, etc so that citizens can prosper even more ? it is a cycle. Effectively, this assumes that:

(i)????????????????? Government spends every money it gets from citizens on all that it needs to spend on to keep the balance of citizen prosperity and citizen tax payment at par

(ii)??????????????? The government, if it is very creative enough, can manage to deliver all the needed improvements to the economic environment and infrastructure, without spending everything it collects from citizens. This way, it can invest the rest to help it absorb future shocks or create an even more resilient economy.

(iii)?????????????? If however, the Government spends more than it gets from its citizens, and since everything the government does is NOT free but must be paid for, it means the excess has to be gotten from somewhere else ? by borrowing, or sometimes get support in the form of grants from other well off governments. If the the government is working well, then usually, the extra money it has to borrow will be very well utilized to eventually manifest in even a higher quality environment which in turn will make citizens even MORE effective and MORE prosperous ? in fact so prosperous that citizens should be able to pay their usual taxes and also an extra (for the extra quality environment created by government), which government in turn uses to clear the monies borrowed.

 

So effectively, the citizens pay for everything and effectively, Government only spends (i) what it has available (not more) or (ii) less than what it has available and saving the balance in investments or(iii) spend what it has, plus more, ONLY when it is certain that the extra spending will generate extra wealth for citizens to pay for it all.

 

What has happened in Ghana is that Government has (i) Spent all the taxes citizenry has paid (ii) Borrowed Extra from both internal and external lenders (iii) Have not been able to create an extra superior environment for citizens to increase their wealth (iv) as a result of iii, have not been able to ask citizens for more tax to pay for borrowings (v) Lenders loans are all due for repayment but there?s not a lot of money to pay for it. (vi) as a result of all the wrong operations of i ? v, both individuals and businesses, internal or external are afraid to invest in Ghana (this is called low investor confidence) because, they fear if they do, taxes will be levied on them, but no benefits will accrue to them from such tax payments in the form of enhanced environment in which to further maximise their potential and create more wealth.

 

Now, with Ghana YIELDING to the IMF (International Monetary Fund), it means IMF will be giving Ghana a lot of money. Part of it will be pumped into the economy as wealth and some, used to improve the infrastructures needed for people and businesses to be productive. These are normally made as conditions in such IMF Loans. The good side of it is that ?Investor Confidence? will be attracted, because individuals and companies know that IMF will force Government to behave in a way that supports growth. The only problem is that because over the years, no superior development environment and infrastructure has been created, most Ghanaian individuals and businesses have not developed enough competency muscles to be able to utilize the new IMF wealth released into the economy neither are they able to take advantage of sudden improved trading environments generated by IMF funding. The effect is that most of the companies and individuals that will benefit are foreign ones, who have developed enough competency musclesand readiness to take full advantage, therefore making them grow stronger and their Ghanaian counterparts weaker. Mind you, one of the normal conditions of IMF loans is for the recipient country to allow foreign entities to operate freely in their country (Ghana, in this case). The other disadvantage is that, after all these external entities have benefited and exported their profits back to their respective countries, their Ghanaian counterparts would normally be left to cover the repayment of the remainder of the loans. Finally too, because of the conditions that come with such Loans, Government?s hands are somehow tied, in terms of how free it can be, to try new, innovative economic recovery solutions. Usually, these will conflict with the Loan conditions.

 

The alternatives may be painful but doable and beneficial in the long run. Government can refuse to take IMF support, sit down and THINK of better unconventional ways of generating funds both externally and internally. If they don?t have the skills or competence, there are others they can bring on board to help develop a creative yet critical strategy. The most important part of that process will be the willingness to STICK with the planned strategy, once it has been drawn out. Alternatively, Government can also decide to tighten its belt for the next 5 or so years, and in those years, continue to tax citizens at the current rates BUT (and a BIG BUT) ensure that it spends LESS than it collects (it?s called Austerity Cost Cuts) so that it can save some money over those 5-7 years to pay off its current debts and jumpstart the economy.

 

I think the main problem for our economy, since we started noting there was a problem is that Government is still continuing to spend as if it has all the money in the world instead of rather cutting down. Whichever approach is taken will require that we all tighten our belts for the next 5-7 years. It?s easy to see, that these approaches may not be popular with many governments because it means the hardships will make them unpopular to the electorate and that can translate into them losing votes.

 

This may not be excessively comprehensive, but it is a layman?s approach to help as many, understand to some degree, the economic occurrences in Ghana ? at least least Ghanaians deserve to understand at least.

 

Charles Kofi Fekpe (FCCA)

[email protected]

The Critical Thinking Kojokrom

Critical Thinking

By Charles Kofi Fekpe

Critical Thinking?The African elephant carries its pregnancy for as long as 22 months. For a mammal its size, you wouldn?t feel so sorry for it as compared to me suggesting a woman should carry her foetus for almost 2 years ? now that?s a very painful proposition, you will agree. Some might even call me wicked, for making the suggestion. The point to drive home is this ? for a country the size of Ghana, some ills will not be easy to bear beyond a certain threshold, because, like in the scenario of a woman carrying a baby for 22 months, that would just be overbearingly painful.

The world has moved in a new direction – a direction I pray everyday, that we and especially our leaders see, understand and embrace:

A nation’s competitive advantage no more lies in its natural resources or specialized production units (which we don?t have a lot of anyway), but rather in the brainpower and critical thinking ability of its citizens. The real competitive advantage in our era is our ability to think ourselves into the future, before anyone else gets there. And let?s not for one minute think it is impossible. Here is a bold statement to make, but it is thetruth: the Economic Philosophies of Adam Smith is partly dead, and so too are our old stock of economic thinkers who dwell on such philosophies and refuse to shift, because it?s the only one they know.

But wait, a minute ? we are all in the boat and everybody has a role to play in the needed transformation process, no doubt.

 

  • Parents need to treat our children differently when they ask “WHY”. We need to help them discover real answers and not shut them up everytime they ask questions.
  • As businesses and employees, we need to always be thinking about innovative products or services, and better, more efficient ways of delivering ? it is no more the job for the Managing Director. Executives need to become lovers of change, seeing each change as an opportunity to move a step ahead.
  • Students need to question and viciously challenge their lecturers and lecturers need to continually force their brains to be ahead of the game and abreast with global directions. In fact our lecturers really need to be going ahead to identify the new global playing fields, ushering their students into those new playing fields and encouraging them to run around with their thinking; instead of holding them bound with old lecture notes and pamphlets.
  • Government needs to overhaul our educational system. Train teachers to be critical thinkers themselves and to teach students that historical answers don’t always hold and that they themselves hold the answers to tomorrows problems. In the new system, our teachers need to accept that they are NOT always right and it is OK for their students to be right, and them wrong ? that should be their aim. Education should no more be about getting students to memorize “what has been” but getting them to conceptualize “what must become” and be encouraged to make mistakes along the way.
  • Spiritual leaders must begin to inspire their congregations to know, that our brains are formed in the image of God. Not for resigned feebleness, but for creativity of the highest divine order

And if we don’t get this right, our focus is wrong, our energies will be channelled wrongly, and so too, our future!!

The real truth about our ailing economy and stupendous governance or demoncrazy(as I call it) is not that it cannot be done ? it is because EVERY nation?s economy and every nation?s democracy will reflect one thing and one thing only ? the quality of it?s citizens. For, now, the critical mass of Ghanaians, needed to consistently embrace change, fathom global complexity and creatively forge into new frontiers are made up of a staggering number of illiterate population and until that changes into a tilting mass of critical thinkers, we will continue to have a majority that votes the wrong (equally illiterate) people into power, that sanction the wrong economic policies, that applaud for the wrong laws in parliament and it goes on and on and on. We can have as many analysis as we wish to have, generate as many debates as we wish to generate, slam the government on radio and TV stations as much as we care??? the quality and quantity of critical and creative Ghanaians thinkers,still remains an issue to be dealt with and everything we do outside that is artificial and temporary.

Development is NOT only about buildingroads; in our era, development should be about cultivating value-added-brains, consciously, purposefully and with every last energy of aggressive intent.

Charles Kofi Fekpe is speaking at a symposium titled ?When Ghana Collides with the World? on the 16th April 2014 at the Africa Regent Hotel from 5.30pm prompt. Attendance is free.RSVP :[email protected]

 

 

 

The Bawumia Lecture: Things To Make Out

Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia

Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia
Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia

It?s very common knowledge, that a camel can go without water for many many days ? interestingly, research shows a giraffe can go without water, much longer.. It makes me wonder how long Ghana can go on without a stable economic life or better still, a solid mechanism to quickly and effectively stabilize any misdirected economic accident as and when they happen. At least, not until I read the scripts of the Lecture by Dr Bawumia on Ghana?s ailing Economy on 25th March 2014.

 

?At the heart of the problem is the lack of fiscal and monetary discipline? ? I couldn?t have agreed more with this statement. More importantly, I would also like to know what the Government has done with $20 billion of development monies of the last few years. And I totally agree too, with his corrective/stabilization measure recommendations at the end of his lecture. I was however hoping that after all was stabilized, what next? What do successive governments have to do to ensure that any stabilization is solidified economically speaking at least in the medium term?

 

These having been said and purely out of respect and for the purposes of complimentary discourse, there were some arrears of the Honourable economist?s presentation that could do with some defence. Seeing that they form a fundamental context of his position.

 

  1. Dr Bawumia indicates that ?To bridge the gap between black market and official exchange rates, foreign exchange bureaus were established in February 1988, leading to the virtual absorption of the foreign exchange black market. The cedi exchange rate therefore became market determined with an increase in demand for foreign currency resulting in depreciation??? Do we interpret this to mean that, it was only when the Forex Bureaus were established in 1988 that the Cedi started being influenced by the demand and supply market? Shall we in extrapolation thus also assume that the black market should not be considered part of the currency influencing market because of their black nature? ? that?s a bit of an exchange rate racist discrimination sir, don?t you think? Sir?

 

  1. Dr Bawumia says the only reason for the Cedi Depreciation in the periods before 2014 is because we moved from fixed rates (established by the British West African Currency Board (WACB)) to floating rates? He forgets that in the era of the fixed rates, it was in the interest of Britain to keep the rates at par with the GBP, because they technically owned both currencies. After independence, I am sure the Dr will agree that keeping the rates at the British Colonies? standardization would have meant, effectively, chaining the economic management of Ghana and her currency to Britain?s Economic policies ? effectively we would have social independence but no Financial Management liberty. As far as his lecture notes show, he has only explained the Cedi?s depreciation in 2014, as being due to economic fundamentals. Sir, it didn?t all just happen in 2014 according to your graph, depreciation has been on the up from independence. I wish the Dr would explain to us why the depreciations in the 40+ years prior? Or shall we then conclude that returning to Fixed rate exchange mechanism will correct everything about the Cedi.

 

  1. Skewed Comparisons:

a)????? Sir you start off the partial causative analysis by indicating that Ghana?s currency exchange was fixed under the The British West African Currency Board (WACB) and you compared the Est African Pound to the British Pound, then in analysing the result of the causative issues, you switch to the Cedi versus the US Dollar ? why the dissimilar parameters for comparison? Sir?

b)????? Over the period 1965 to 2012 you compare the USD/GBP and the GhS/USD and conclude that whereas the GBP appreciated by 1.5% over a 48 year period, the Cedi slumped by 2,000,000%. That?s an intentionally skewed comparison to make. Why wasn?t the Cedi:USD fluctuation compared to the fluctuation against the USD of a country with similar economic, social and historical backgrounds like Nigeria or Kenya? Sir?

 

  1. The Dr said ?Declining economic growth is worrying because without an expanding economy we cannot create jobs and many of you students will find it difficult to find jobs when you complete your studies?.? ? it would be good to know if as an economist, our focus should be on job creation or productivity. Let?s be brutally honest sir, if job creation were to be considered as an end in itself, then Hitler did it by employing every citizen in digging trenches and making bombs. Are you sure the real worry is in the creation of jobs or the nation?s productivity? Sir?

 

The Dr said, very correctly, that excessive government spending domestically and the financing of such increased spending using direct cash injections has been one of the main factors causing the exchange rate slump because it fundamentally meant more Cedis chasing fewer Dollars ? I agree and believe too, that this is a critical issue that will impact on short, medium and long term economic performances of Ghana. As critical as this is however and knowing that Government insofar as the population and economy was expanding no matter how little, will continue to need increased spending ? The Dr made no offer of measures that governments ought to carry out to generate, increase and sustain local revenue, seeing that he suggested in the body of his lecture, a reduction in levies, taxes and rates, and in contradiction, a scrapping of tax holidays in order to make the cost of doing business Ghana attractive to investors ? although I would have argued that corruption and uncertainty also add substantively to the cost of doing business in Ghana. So, just how, effectively, should Government generate income other than by expanding revenue catchment through biometric means and social formalization ? assuming these will require public spending which the Dr has suggested need cutting down sharply immediately.

 

Dr Bawumia, in putting Ghana?s Public Debt Interest payments in perspective says that total interests payable in 2014 is 6 times the budget of these 6 ?KEY? ministries namely:? Ministry of Roads, Trade/Industry, Fisheries, Food/Agriculture, Water/Housing and Transport. Sir, I don?t know how you determined the ?KEY? ministries, but if you were trying to compare the hugeness and centrality of the interest payments, it would have been comparatively fair to compare it with the equally HUGE and in my opinion, ?CENTRALLY KEY? ministries such as Finance, Defence, Education, Food/Agric, Health and Energy/Petroleum, in which case you would have realised that the interest repayments for 2014 only amounts to 0.5 TIMES the combined budgets of these 6 ?CENTRALLY KEY? ministries. Does that shift the arguments a little? Sir? Oh by the way sir, according to the publicly available budget documents on the website of the MoFEP, you said the total budget allocated to Ministry of Roads was GhC779mil ? it is actually GhC699; you said that for Fisheries was GhS279mil ? it is actually GhS128; You said Food and Agric had GhS128 ? it is actually GhS306. Sir?

 

Dr Bawumia, does a brilliant table that compares Months of Import Cover (MiC) per liquidity for Ghana (pop 25mil), India (pop 1.3bil) Indonesia (pop 249mil), Malaysia (pop 31mil), South Africa (pop 52mil), and of course, Ghana compares very poorly ? Did the Dr fail to acknowledge that national productivity does generally have some linear relationship with population sizes or was it a slip of intent?. It was unclear the source of the data and whether or not these were averages over time or as at the end of 2013. We don?t know. But how about we compare apples with apples? How about we compare African countries with similar levels of populations and the picture doesn?t look too bad all of a sudden at the end of 2013 (from World Bank sources): Kenya (Pop=44mil; MiC=4); Uganda (Pop=35mil; MiC=5); Ivory Coast (Pop=23mil; MiC=4); Mozambique (Pop=24mil; MiC=3) and Ghana (Pop=24mil; MiC=3). On World Bank Datasheet website, Seychelles has an MiC of 40, Algeria MiC=34 and Lybia MiC=41; Comparatively, will Dr Bawumia therefore say the following countries are comparatively close to economic extinction? i.e. USA MiC=2, Denmark MiC=6 and France MiC=2. Conclusively, using the Months of import cover on its own is not enough to explain a country?s liquid stability without understanding the basics of it such as the nature of imports, the relative type of the country?s export, the timings etc.

 

All in all, I think it was a largely positive and forward-looking presentation barring that I was hoping his recommendations would have been ones that looked beyond stabilization and into medium to long term actions of depth. Congratulations sir. You have done well breaking one horn of the bull??? the rest, is in all our hands. As I have always reiterated, resources are nothing without the people to convert them into wealth. So too are agendas and policies without the right people to implement them ? as far as we can all see, our economy and therefore, the currency, which is a reflection also of that economy, is a reflection of the mental and creative majority of us, as a people; sadly, the required critical mass of citizens, needed to stabilize the thinking and creative base of Ghana currently lies in the hands of our majority illiterates.

 

Charles Kofi Fekpe

[email protected]

To The President, His Saints And Sinners

Charles -the author

By Charles Kofi Fekpe

Charles 41Dear Mr President,

?I trust that the better Ghana agenda is bettering you. Like my fellow Ghanaian, Bukom Banku said ?When a vulture shake their waist, it is cover their sons.? ? I am writing with a desperate concern for Ghana and the future of the generations after us.

In case those around you haven?t told you, not many people in or from Ghana are very happy with current state of affairs. I figured since we voted your party and all the others before you into power and yet things are still displeasing, I should at least, try and help you get some of it right.

I haven?t been president before, so I don?t know about its daily workings. What I can say however, is that in the Bible book of Exodus 18; Jethro was not the leader of 2.5 million Israelites, he did no miracles before Pharaoh, neither did he part the red sea; yet, it was he, who taught Moses, the first ever system of democratic governance, which by refinement, we enjoy today. I simply wish to communicate here, some truths; truths I believe will benefit your leadership personally, and deliver some prosperity to Ghana eventually. Some relate to your governance, others to national policies, insights into the future of the world, and yet some, purely philosophical.

 

You may not accept everything I say here; luckily, my sole responsibility is to communicate these truths to you. Pardon my directness sir, it?s been with me from childhood! Now let us start.

 

Pay The Devil As An Advocate:

You may have heard the term ?Devil?s Advocate? as one, who, in any argument, takes a position s/he doesn?t necessarily agree with, but for the sake of a debate?s wholesomeness. In order words, s/he finds all the supporting justifications to say ?No? to a deliberation even when 99.99% of the team says ?Yes? ? it ensures that everybody who said yes, gets the opportunity to judge their decisions from both angles. I am only recommending that you actually employ a knowledgeable, independent, non-party affiliated person to be your permanent devil?s advocate. Why you may ask? Because you are surrounded by too many people who would gladly say yes, or no to you, as long as it satisfies their stomachs and not the people of Ghana.

 

One Logologo Line Of Direction:

Sir, we both know Ghana has cocoa, gold, timber, oil, tourism, etc. and yet we have a zero winning edge in any of these trading lines ? that?s why we don?t ?count? on the world stage. Why? ? we are spreading our efforts too thin on everything and not focused on any. My suggestion sir is that we ought to focus on three or so trading lines, then, redirect every energy, resource, technology and policy, to back them and make them our winning competitive portfolio ? this is basic economics. Sir, I would even dare suggest that education could be one of them (brain power). It is not a traditional option, but it could mean we?re consistently producing very high calibre human capital. It will not only support Ghana?s own development, but make Ghana a skilled resource hub for Africa and international businesses. Yes we can export ?brain power? and believe me sir, it is the only export item that exponentially rises in value the more it is used.

 

These Econo-Comic Gurus Of Yours:

I know you have a lot of economic gurus plaguing you like leeches both internally and externally; each touting their economic models and policies as the best for Ghana. I don?t envy you sir ? but I would prescribe a simple 4-tier mechanism by which you can minimize the error of selecting the wrong economic policies incessantly presented to you. Faced, with economic policy decisions, please always consider the following: (i) if the policy is based on demand and supply, question how the demand has been arrived at. Sir, most are likely to equate demand to the needs of the people, but the truth is, demand is ?need? backed by the availability of purchasing power to satisfy those needs. If most Ghanaians do not have the means to satisfy the needs being referred to by the policy, it is NOT demand, and it is NOT a sound policy. And let no man lie to you sir ? that purchasing power can be created by printing money all the time ? no, that is called, printing inflation. Purchasing power must be earned, not printed. (ii) For any economic policy placed before you, question whether or not their benefits are for the short term, long term or both. If most of its benefit is for just the short term, it will fail in a few years, because it is short-sighted. (iii) All economic policies must answer the question whether the benefits they profess is for a few Ghanaians or most Ghanaians. If this data is missing, unsupported or vague, it is not a well thought-out policy. (iv) Is the economic policy ?double-ended? or a ?one-way-street?? If it is a one-way-street policy, it will not be sustainable. By double-ended, let?s take an everyday example. An double-end economic policy is like a farmer. One end of his success involves buying seeds, hoes, fertiliser etc. ? suppliers to the farmer earn and thus remain in productivity. The other end of his success is that when his maize is harvested, he sells to the kenkey seller who also uses it to produce kenkey, selling to farmer and fertilizer seller, etc. The productivity or earning cycle never ceases. There are other economic policies that operate like the real estate industry; one man builds houses, rents it out to the farmer or kenkey seller and it ends there ? neither of the latter, can use the house as an input to increase their own productivities. If anything, it takes away their earnings Only the landlord has productivity. Sir, hopefully, now, you can spot a seeming good or seemingly not-too-good economic policy. It won?t be that easy, but at least you have an idea.

 

Let?s See By Hands The Professionals:

Sir, I have to be very blunt on this one ? I feel the practice of appointing party-faithfuls to man the core national sectors and ministries, is doing more harm than good. It doesn?t apply to only your party, I must say, but in any case, you are in power now so I am telling you. They have ?chopped some? so please, now would be a good time for the incompetents to go. If they have no proven knowledge, business orientation, or managing skillset for their areas of respective appointments, then they genuinely have no business being in those positions. You can?t expect these departments to deliver value to Ghana, when the wo/men in their driving seats do not thoroughly understand the ?value-creation? process themselves. Sir, if you hold on to this ?party-faithfuls? agenda and they fail in their roles, believe me, your party or the Ghanaian people will ?faithfully? dispose of you too ? it is not a threat sir, it?s a promise. Ghana does not lack professionals and you know that. You know that very very well. Wo nim paaaa!

 

Education, Innovation, Entrepreneurship:

Sir, our educational system has got to change. It?s bluntly as true as that. The teaching focus has to shift from the theory and history of problems that have existed and solutions that have been found, to a more proactive and technologically infused focus which teaches our students ?HOW to anticipate future needs and HOW to create solutions to them.? Our teachers have to be trained to accept that real teaching is in helping students to be curious enough to challenge all thinking and accepted truth, including that of the teacher. The future competitiveness of the education we?re giving our children today shouldn?t be measured by their ability to think what everybody else is thinking, but rather, their ability to lead future solution-oriented thinking for everyone else to follow. If we do this, they, won?t come out of our educational systems, feeling the only option they have is to look for jobs, but will confidently create their own employments in Ghana and beyond, by being providers of solution to a world that no more has barriers. This early and continuous entrepreneurship psyching is what creates strong economies ? creating enabling environments and support for all citizens to become solution givers. Believe this truth sir ? it is entrepreneurs and creative thinkers that create jobs, not government. Your only business is to be the forceful and friendliest enabler of entrepreneurship, not its manager.

 

If Only You Will Believe In Ghana:

Sir, I am not being sarcastic OK. I know you are the president and all, but, you need to believe in Ghana more, beyond the paper-based ?better Ghana agenda?. That means, believing that the solutions you need to reset this great nation on course, can be found within Ghana and in Ghanaians. It also means sir; you must be bold to insist that some of the rules (written and especially unwritten) must NOT favour foreigners more than it does Ghanaians. Yes sir, it means listening a lot less to all those external consultants who claim to know more about Ghana and its workings than Ghanaians themselves. Sir, finally, it means saying no sometimes, where you have to choose between the good of Ghana and international, party or diplomatic isolation. But in whatever shape or form, you have to show yourself strongly as having only Ghana?s interest.

 

Indiscipline Is Not Good Enough:

Sir, discipline and indiscipline are both like eggs ? the difference is, one is fried and the other is boiled. There are too many things happening in Ghana that is making us an international laughing stock. I know you are a nice man, but as a president, some crocodile skin helps. I think you need to exert some hard discipline and tough love throughout the nation. From the cabinet, ministries right down to citizens. The whole corruption in public offices; parliamentarians wasting public money debating about ?Tweaaaa?; indiscriminate pulling down of toll booths; Chinese citizens mining illegally; workers at Tema harbour intentionally delaying clearances; right down to distasteful defamations on media airwaves; and the citizen who drives on the pavement ? it all comes down to this fact: they are happening because we tolerate and reward indiscipline. It?s about time you are HARD sir. That?s one of the pecks of being the Commander in Chief ? Hard! The nonsense is just becoming too much, and it?s beginning to stain your shirt.

 

Finally, sir, I wish to bring your attention to certain directions in which the future seems to be headed. I feel, that understanding them will help guide your personal governance decisions. I will make them short and snappy:

  1. Traditional competitive-advantages no more exist with natural resources ? that?s why we need to start thinking beyond export of raw materials only. Technology and innovation is wiping out the level playing field. As such, we need to be strongly combining heavy technology with our traditional competitive asset lines and make them more valuable.
  2. The only two defining factors about the world today and the future ahead of us, are ?uncertainty? and ?fast-pace.? And neither of them will stop anytime soon. The only way around them, is to define, carve and create OUR own futures.
  3. Survival and safety can no more be found in simply being part of the African Union or by creating economic alliances with other countries. Survival and safety will only be found in aspiring to position Ghana, not where everybody is headed (it?ll be too late by then) but rather where everybody wants to be. We need to find ways of being ahead consciously.
  4. Our future can no more be planned by counting on the past and its glories. Our modern world seems totally disconnected from the past. It is worrying, but it is equally an opportunity for us to create a brand new tomorrow that can work for us. We can?t just sit down for tomorrow to meet us, else, it will be a tomorrow someone else has created. I suggest, sir, in the light of this, that you get together a team, whose ONLY duty is to LEAD thinking on ways in which Ghana can be in the future before other African states do.
  5. In the future, the only way to saving money will be to ?make it? ? that?s the reason why you need your ministers to be witty and very business minded.

Again, as my exemplary citizen of the year, Bukom Banku said ?A talking plenty cannot let dead man ear you? ? You are not die yet Mr President so please, I am ope that you ave ear me.

Shalom to you

CHARLES KOFI FEKPE (FCCA, CFE)

[email protected]

Let?s Get Personal With Ghana?s Development

Charles Fekpe-the writer

By Charles Kofi Fekpe

?I normally don?t tend to write on this sort of topics, but following a recent article I wrote titled ?The Dollarization of the Better Cedi Agenda? it dawned on me that it was about time we all, as citizens of Ghana do our part to move her forward. But of course we know this. So why haven?t we done it?

Charles Fekpe-the writer
Charles Fekpe-the writer

The purpose for my article is to consider creativity as a basic but yet still practical way we can all help the process of moving Ghana forward. You will find it interesting. You see, the unembellished truth is this ? unlike other developed countries, in Ghana, the only reason it appears as though successive governments hold excessive power, is because, we the citizens do not have any power of our own other than voting rights ? but that itself is not power. It is not power because even the man or woman we elect has the same right and uses it; secondly, it isn?t power because it gives you no leverage to change any unfavourable position into your favour. If it could, we could call it power. Voting power, that someone else determines when you exercise it and what choices to exercise it on, is no power ? realistically, we are simply being guided to do the bidding of others. Here is what I mean, in America, Britain, other parts of Europe etc where world-impacting corporations (i) are responsible for bringing most of the wealth into their respective countries and (ii) control those wealth, governments have no choice but to listen to those corporations and individuals, because ignoring them could be politically suicidal ? their decisions could build or cripple the entire plans of any government. In Ghana, the wealth of the rich in our society is so insignificant, that Governments do not see a reason to ?need them? or consult them in economic or other social matters. So, you see, as citizen?s we have to matter, for government to start taking us serious ? if we don?t, it wont matter whether it is the NDC or NPP, PNC, etc we will remain insignificantly irrelevant.

Let?s take an example ? GHACEM for example (even though Ghana imports cement) is pretty much the monopoly in cement products in Ghana. Without them, one could easily say, no infrastructural construction will happen in Ghana, whether it is government constructing roads, or you and I building houses ? the entire infrastructure of the nation depend on it, more or less. I think you will then agree that it makes absolute sense for GHACEM to be in a better position to be able to influence Government agenda. Sadly however, GHACEM is NOT owned by Ghanaians (93.1 % shares owned by Scancem of Norway), so even if it were to influence Government agenda, it has NO obligation to make such an influence in the interest of the Ghanaian people but Norwegians. That?s the big difference we ought to recognize ? as a people, and as individuals of Ghanaian origin, we need to be in a position of some ?impactful? power and also be cut out from the Ghanaian fabric, in order to be able to affect government, and affect them in the interest of Ghanaians.

But let?s expand the sphere of influence here ? one doesn?t need to wield influence from a manufacturing point of view as in the example above. It could be any sphere. In fact it can be wielded in any sphere that has the potential of limiting or greatly supporting what governments want to do. So for example, if you were to have much influence in Media, any government will have it to its advantage, to be on your side, because they know, it should take you just one TV, internet or radio episode to undo or do them.

Here is the interesting thing ? whatever it is you do, and for it to have any form of power however, it must be something that appeals to the citizenship. You must be a provider of human solutions. In the world we live in today, there is neither a differentiation between individuals and Governments, religious men or a university student ? if you are providing SOLUTIONS, you will wield more influence than anyone else. It is this unending need for human solution that creates an opportunity for us as individual citizens to rise into power. That?s right, by solving problems, by providing services or making products that are solutions to the needs of people. And guess what ? these solutions do not only have to be for the Ghanaian people alone, thanks to the world becoming a global market place. Your ability to explore markets beyond Ghana, makes you an even bigger influence. Why, because apart from bringing back foreign earnings into Ghana, your being a solution outside our borders, means your influence abroad can be brought to bear on your own government. Take the example of the young man, Mark Zuckerberg, even though based in the USA, it is theoretically in the interest of most countries to preserve him and his interests, because his absence may very likely mean, the absence of social media.

But first, we need to be solution providers. That?s our first hurdle. We need to become solution providers. And in order to do that, we all have a duty to ourselves, our country and God, to become CREATIVE. Yes, you heard me right! I did say CREATIVE. It needs to be taught in the schools because it will secure the long term future of Ghana; it needs to be preached on the pulpits because it is the very nature of God; it needs to be practices in the work places, because it is the only way we will stay competitively ahead of the game in our fast paced and fast changing world. As a nation, we will progress when we come to understand that, survival doesn’t mean having food to eat – it means consistently being at least 10 years ahead of the competition and aspiring to be NOT where everybody already is – but where everybody wants to come.

In Ghana, in West Africa, Africa, indeed throughout the world, there are endless myriads of problems. These problems equate to endless myriads of solutions. And whoever provides these solutions will not only end up with good business prospects (if they can successfully commercialize their ideas), but also become influential and impactful. So how does one go about being creative? We?ll get to that, but first, I want to say this; many people complain, there is no money to implement their ideas ? and I say, hey! Maybe that is a problem in itself to get creative about. Maybe someone has all the money and not the idea and you could both team up and share the gains (unless you are greedy enough to let your ideas die with you because you simply don?t want anybody to share in your profits). In fact there are certain components of your idea that you could start off with, without huge finances and build on it, bit by bit. To resign your ideas to the background simply because you can?t get financing, forgive me, is pure laziness.

Maybe the academia and industry can start thinking about ways they can creatively collaborate, to identify and research into ways that industry can become much more efficient ? they won?t only be sparking an industrial efficiency revolution but also end up making taught curriculum more practical and relevant than theoretic; Maybe students should be taught creativity and maybe they should use the internet less for only Facebook and twitter and emails and rather explore ways it can help them start online businesses just like Microsoft and Facebook evolved. There is so much knowledge and knowhow freely available on the internet now that no one has an excuse to say they didn?t know. Maybe our professionals should begin to creatively explore the exponentially multiplied use of their talents than simply being reserved to Ghana ? look, Ghana is surrounded with countries that have just come out of conflicts and lacking professional human resources. This abounds in all refinement in Ghana and yet we sit back and watch international consultants, fly in halfway across the world to snap those opportunities from only ten miles across our borders. I may just be speaking randomly here, but maybe we need to expand creatively, each of us.

If we start to think in this manner, then indeed, every problem around us, becomes an opportunity to rise one step higher and the more one rises, the more the wrongs of our government becomes irrelevant. In fact a point comes when by default, you will see opportunity in every wrong of the government. It is when the masses arrive at this point, that they can be considered as having what it takes to effectively influence government and its systems.

Incidentally, someone asked me recently ?how can one get creative with ideas, etc??

Well, there isn’t just one method, but a few – ones I feel sharing here MAY spark a creative genius in someone else too.

Creativity is simply a “Solution Oriented way of Thinking” and so, having a very structured way of “Thinking Creatively” helps to be able to apply your creative mindset in different circumstances. Firstly, bear in mind, that for creativity to be worthwhile, it has to either solve a current problem (yours or someone else’s) or a problem, that is likely to happen in the future (involves you looking around and figuring out what is likely to become a problem in the future, and solving it). Good! So How do we think Creatively!

(i) First ask yourself, what solution can I come up with assuming there was NO financial or TECHNICAL limitations. This is often a first step because, on most occasions, the worry about the availability of money to fund a solution even gets in the way of your creative thinking process before it even starts. This way of thinking takes away the restriction and allows you to be as wild as possible with ideas and then, later refine the practicalities.

(ii) Solutions, seeking problems. Most times, we automatically think every problem requires a brand new solution – Truth is, most times too, there are solutions that have been found in other areas, but equally usable for new problems. For example, the solution of using a thermostat in ironing, whereby the pressing iron automatically stops heating when it gets to a certain temperature has now been applied to temperature control in modern cars. In modern cars, you can state what temperature you like the car to be at all times and the system ensures to turn on/off the heating/air conditioning automatically at intervals in order for your set temperature to be maintained – that’s not really genius, but definitely creativity

(iii) Flipping. Sometimes re-arranging a problem or even a solution in the reverse order, by itself becomes a solution. That is exactly how the telephone call back service was invented. Under normal circumstances, you would pick up a phone, call a company and stay on the line for minutes before you are responded to – and you get to pay for it too. With the new call-back services, you call a company and if they are busy, you simply dial *67 (depending on your country or service provider) and hang up – when their line is less busy, their phone system calls you back automatically and they pay for the bill, not you. Its like having a personal secretary to keep trying someone number until they get through to them and then transfer the connected call to your office. Genius or Creativity. It is simply a reversal of the normal process.

(iv) Finally, another method of creative thinking is what I call the Adam+Eve creative thinking. In the bible, specifically in Genesis we are made to know that Adam and Eve are actually one. And that?s exactly one of the ways in which innovation can be sparked. Sometimes, all it takes is to bring together two different solutions or two different problems and then ? boom!! You get a totally new solution. Take Facebook for example. None of the components of Facebook were new. Mr Mark Zuckerberg just brought them together. Before Facebook, there was the internet, there were platforms separately to upload photos, there was email and text, for sending and receiving messages and there was already a God-inherent need, for us to remain as social animals ? he simply joined it all up together and today, we have Facebook.

We don?t need to be geniuses to be creative. Now these may not exhaustively be the only ways for anyone to start being a creative thinker, but at least it provides real tools that one can use to start a creativity revolution on a personal level. It is my hope that in our own small ways, we will begin to look past our failing governments and focus on our own successes.

Go out there and be more daring, more creative and more productive ? in the end, you win, and so to does Ghana. God bless our homeland Ghana.

[email protected]

The Dollarization Of The Better Cedi Agenda

Ghana Cedis

By Charles Kofi Fekpe (FCCA, CFE)

?Am I a dwarf? No, in fact I am six foot and four inches tall! So what qualifies me to write this article? Well, I suppose that apart from being a Ghanaian professional working in International Development and Public Finance, I am neither partisan nor ?tweeaasan? and as such, can afford to be truthful without worrying whether my next pay cheque will be stopped.

Ghana Cedis
Ghana Cedis

The subject of this article is the falling Ghanaian Cedi, and although much has been said, written and debated about it, I feel a patriotic duty, to raise some very core economic and basic public financial management issues in the most non-technical language for all to understand.

The reason for the falling Ghanaian Cedi is not one, it is many. What I can say however is that it certainly is not the work of a committee of dwarfs representing the regions of Ghana, neither is it an act of God. The issues that have led to the fallen state of the Cedi are very very fundamental and common sense and the truth is, it didn?t all just happen. If the entire spectrum of causes is not dealt with or at least mitigated, we will see this happening again and again and again ? maybe at different magnitudes, but it will happen again ? that much, I guarantee. This is not a prophecy ? it is truth. And if I dare be religious about it, well, prophecy comes by seeing only in part ? as for truth, it abides. I have attempted as much as possible, to put aside possible externally motivated causes like the USA?s quantitative easing (and tepering) e.t.c. and to rather focus on internal likely cause to the Cedi?s depreciation ? causes, that are in our control to manage or at least resolve.? So let?s get straight into it shall we?

Misplaced Frontline Responses:

Yes the fall of the Cedi did strike fear into the hearts of Ghana?s economic managers. Not even the toughest economic strategists of world class pedigrees could go soundly to bed in the wake of what has happened ? but I fear that as a result, the government has concentrated all its efforts on solving the short-term slump in the Cedi?s value, rather than dealing with the fundamental medium to long-term economic structural failures that the Cedi?s value is merely reflecting. Here is the truth ? the Cedi in itself has NO power to determine our economic direction; it is merely an all-inclusive reflection (indicator) of the performance of our underlying economic engine. The Cedi is the light showing on the dashboard to indicate that there is a fault in the engine ? no sensible economic mechanic will go after repairing the dashboard indicator light. I?ll leave the rest to my readers? interpretation.

Self-Engineered Investment Related Pressures:

Fundamental Economic law states that if you have a very large quantity of an item, but a very very low demand for it, then in order for that item not to sit there and rot, its price has to be reduced, so it can be sell ? and vice versa. I still cannot understand this wisdom ? The Ghana Investment Promotion Council is tooting its horn on its website, that Ghana attracted about $3 billion into the Ghanaian economy in investment (even though am sure that figure is out of date). That is a hefty sum of money representing approximately 7% of Ghana?s annual GDP (or total value of Ghana?s Economy). But here is the interesting part of that investment data I just shared ? The same GIPC, promotes investment laws which guarantee 100% transfer of profits, dividends, etc. out of Ghana. Coupled with tax holidays and weak transfer pricing regulations, it means that effectively, investors bring in billions of Dollars, and transfer equal billions out of Ghana in the form of profits and transfer prices. What do we expect? These monies (and the profits made from the Ghanaian people) will not be transferred out of Ghana in Cedis ? no, they will be transferred in Dollars and other foreign currencies, meaning that the demand on the dollars in the economy will be very high, thereby increasing its value against the Cedi. We created these laws and ridiculous tax holidays. Imagine a tax exemption of 5 years for property development (i.e. no taxes paid for 5 years of commencing business) ? ?does that mean that all one has to do is bring in money, buy your land and build properties within 2 years, sell them off in years 3 and 4 and transfer all the profits and capital out by creative accounting in the first half of year 5? Just asking! That way you keep all your investments and profits intact without paying a dime. We created our own monsters!

The Slack Hand Shall Always Beg:

At some point we were amongst the leaders in the production of Cocoa, then Gold etc. We lost our places. But that?s even not relevant anymore anyway. Fundamentally, this is how it works: Country A sells item A1 and its currency is A2. Country B sells item B1 and its currency is B2. Ideally, in order for country B to buy country A?s items (A1s) it has to buy A2 currencies in order to pay for them. This makes the local A2 currency rise. In order for country A to buy item B1, the same process happens, so that the currency B2 also rises. The effect? ? the two ?equal? currency rises cancel out each other. In the case of Ghana however, (i) the value of the raw materials we sell is cheaper than the value of processed goods we buy (manufactured items) from other countries. This means that automatically (from the above illustration), the dollar (in which we pay for most of our imports) will be stronger than our Cedi (because we are paying for a higher value item. To crown that ? we also accept payments for our exports in mainly USD and other currencies but the Cedi. We can only correct this when the value of our exports starts increasing and there can only be one way out ? we need to increase our manufacturing base ? and OUR government knows this. (ii) Other than cheap cocoa, the ownership rights over the majority of our valuable natural resources like Gold, Timber etc are in the hands of foreigners. Yes they are exported, but the question is, when those exports are paid for, do such incomes come back into Ghanaian bank accounts ? no, because although the resources are from Ghana and extracted by cheap Ghanaian labour ? they are nonetheless owned by foreigners. The effect? ? the countries getting the final payments for OUR Gold, etc can expect their currency to grow stronger at the expenses of the Cedi (iii) About 80% of the high value services we enjoy domestically, like Telecommunications, shipping, air transport, etc, again are mainly foreign owned and the effects are similar ? we pay for the services in Cedis, that get shipped out in foreign currencies. Of course it ought to be ? their owners don?t expect to get paid in Cedis. I suppose the fundamental premise is this ? if we are NOT selling anything of value, we can?t expect our economy to reflect value in the Cedi. Maybe, it wasn?t such a good idea to have sold off Ghana telecom or allowed Ghana Airways to have Gone bust, or Obuasi Goldfields to have been fully taken from Ghanaian interest. Just may be. (iv) Finally, let?s look at our refusal to embrace technology full-steam or to innovate in our education and service delivery. A tonne of cocoa beans sells for about US$2,900, whereas a second-hand car imported into Ghana, or some imported home appliances could sell for US$4,000 and beyond ? and YET? and YET? these mechanical or technological equipment we so eagerly import, only take less than one hundredth of the time our cocoa needs to grow, get dried, and exported – meaning that hypothetically, countries we import from, have the opportunity to sell to us 100 times more, for each sale we make. Maybe, we are even lucky, that the Cedi has not been running a hundred fiscal miles behind the US Dollar. You do the maths, I?ll do the economics. Maybe, our governments need to wake up to the fact that what we need to encourage and actively import ? is the technological knowhow, to do things ourselves and export surpluses of value added products to even regional markets. Maybe what we need to refocus our education on is to churn out graduates who can innovate solutions to the world?s problems; solutions whether in the form of services or technologies, that can be sold faster and at higher values than our dearly beloved Cocoa. Impact? ? reduce our import linked demand for foreign currency and increase payments to us from our higher-value-faster-turnaround exports.

The Borrower Will Always Be A Slave To The Lender:

If there is anything that has ever baffled me in Ghana?s economic management, I must say, it?s been our ability to take huge loans from the Chinese, the Americans, the British etc. with lifetime interests, to develop mainly infrastructure and yet, agree to contract suppliers from these same countries to carry out works we borrowed the monies for. Let?s see how this works. We borrow $10 billion from the Chinese (for example) for a road project; we contract Chinese company X to build the road; we pay company X a whooping $9 billion from the money we just borrowed from their Government, which of course, ?they happily take back into the Chinese Economy; years down the line, we repay the loan of $10 billion back to the Chinese government with about another $1 billion in interests. Effectively, we have brought $10 billion into the Ghanaian economy and sent out $20 billion back into the Chinese economy either in Dollars or other currency ? the Chinese certainly won?t take the Cedis in payments. Bottom line again, the Cedi falls because we have to round up all the Cedis we have to buy enough Yens or US Dollars to pay the Chinese Government and Contractors with ? Cedi falls, Yen or Dollars rise.

Political will overclouds:

Finally, and more often than not, several of our governments have allowed misplaced political wills to cloud all judgements on the nation?s economic practicalities. In other words, our leaders will mostly do what is politically correct, than what is economically astute. Sadly however, such displaced political will, is not one exercised as courtesy towards the Ghanaian people ? no, it is one exercised towards other governments gullibly embraced as our ?development partners?. There is a fundamental understanding of the New World Order, that most of our political leaders, don?t as yet comprehend and it is this: nobody is Ghana?s friend on the world?s economic stage ? everybody is patting our backs and shaking our hands for what is in it for them. If we don?t get that, we would be sleeping in bed with economic snakes, pretending they are harmless pet lizards and losing sight of the need to develop our own economic models and solutions that ?work for us? as opposed to listening to already made solutions presented us by our development partners.

I understand the issues raised here are not entirely exhaustive. I understand some of them require medium to long term timeframes to achieve, but the fundamental truth remains that we have to start NOW, and from somewhere and if I am permitted, I recommend we start by being humble enough to stop pretending our economy?s custodians truly understand what they are doing.

Email: [email protected]

Ghana On The Road To Jerusalem

Charles Kofi Fekpe
Charles Kofi Fekpe

So, the Government of Ghana wants to spend $600K on a pilgrimage to the Wailing wall in Jerusalem. I can understand why Ghanaians are crying out loud. I do.

 

Inasmuch as I am a strong believer in the Jewish faith and Abrahamic (in this particular case, Solomonic) mysteries and covenants, I do think we need to carefully explore some realities.

 

Personally, I believe sending 7 genuinely true men of God to pray and write the country?s prayer needs on the wailing-wall in Jerusalem is equally as effective as sending 200 or a 10,000, so I guess the question the Government should be answering is, ?what is the justification for the 200 being sponsored?

 

Secondly, if all these is stemming from advice that has been given to the president based on 2 Kings 8:41-43, then I suggest to the President that there is a better option to locking Ghana into the covenant and that whoever advised him spiritually has ?short-changed? him. He should ask himself why countries like Britain and US no matter their failings will never collapse? Because they are the 2 biggest supporters of Israel. If the president is to get ONE response to ONE prayer, then yes, he can send a team to Israel to pray (but certainly NOT 200 of them). If he is looking to lock Ghana into the Abrahamic blessings, then he should consider giving a token seed to Israel every year and it certainly won?t cost him $600K. Or better still, invite the Israelis into business partnerships with Ghana. That way, we still enjoy the blessings of Abraham but also enjoy shared profits and development. (Genesis 12:3 -7). How about asking the whole nation, Muslims and Christians alike to fast and pray for the country for just one day? Don?t you think there is scope in that, for a larger number of men and women with genuine hearts, that God will listen to? And don?t you think Ghanaians individually know their problems and pains more than the 200 men you are sending off to pray?

 

I thank God for those advising the president on Spiritual matters but someone needs to explain to him that he has a choice between having ONE prayer answered at the Jerusalem Wall and plugging the country into A LIFETIME of blessings.

 

Having said all these, I?d like to make the president aware that as a country, God has blessed us beyond imagination. Our problem, I don?t believe has anything to do with our our prayers to God or NOT. It has to do with US as a people. It has to do with our GREED and our INEFFICIENCIES. The earlier we recognize that, the better for us all. We are now behaving like Moses who had ?the rod of God? in his hands and getting to the red sea, is still turning to God and asking God, what should I do?

 

Here is a piece of advice to our President: How about trying something as simple as looking through all senior Government appointments and ask yourself 2 questions: (1) Are the people appointed considerably knowledgeable in their sector of appointment? And (2) What achievements have they demonstrated outside politics

 

It certainly is not an easy thing running a whole country but if you put yourself forward for the post, you obviously believe you can get the job done, so stop creating excuses and diversions and get on with the job ? I employed you at the end of the day.

 

I am not saying the president shouldn?t send a delegation to pray in Israel, but what I am also saying is this: 1 Timothy 5:8 : ?But if anyone provide not for his own, and specially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel?

 

How does the government justify spending that much money for travel arrangements when electricity load being shed daily represents enough electricity needed to power 5 whole regions. How do you justify spending that much when mothers are delivering their babies on hospital floors. How do you justify that spending when the country still has debts unpaid and children are still on the streets and have nowhere to sleep at night.

 

In conclusion, I don?t think Ghanaians a angry because of the need for prayer to be offered in Jerusalem on behalf of the country. I think Ghanaians are angry because in their suffering, the government has disrespected their human needs and insulted their spiritual intelligence.

 

An entire family, has surrendered to you their share of the nation?s resources in the hope that you will use a part to make their lives better today, and the other part to invest for the future of their children. Yet on a daily basis, they live in need, you have put them in debt, and with no hope for the future of their children. Tell me Mr President, how do you expect such a family to react when you tell them, ?the remainder of their share of the national resources will be used to pray for them? HOW DO YOU EXPECT THEM TO FEEL?

 

Ghana is a blessed country – stop making it look like our inefficiencies are resulting from unanswered prayers from God.

Source: ?Charles Kofi Fekpe

www.charlesfekpe.com

Your Next Job Interview ? How To Excel

Your Next Job Interview ? How To Excel

By Charles Kofi FEKPE

 

The important thing to do with any job interview is to research the organisation thoroughly, after all, this is where you are going to be committing 8 out of 16 hours a day of your waking life, for 5 out of seven days a week for the next 1 or more years. Most importantly, try and understand what they do and also understand what you will be required to do when you are accepted for the job. I have seen many candidates who don?t do any research or who wait until the day of the interview before they start asking questions. If this is your attitude to interviews then I would like to most politely say, that you already have a 90% chance of failure at the interview and if you have already been failing at interviews, you probably have just discovered one of the reasons why. For starters, there are some very very basic things you should note, that can increase your chances of success:

 

  • Always dress smartly ? a suit, a shirt or other suitable clothing make you look welcoming on the eyes.
  • Always try to arrive 15 minutes early (there is no such thing as African time).
  • Always remember to turn your phone off as soon as you arrive at the interview venue. Don?t forget this.
  • Always obtain a job specification or job description or go through the vacancy thoroughly.
  • Always make time to read on the organisation?s website especially anything about them in the news.
  • Always research and remember 5 key aspects of the organisation that makes them stand out.
  • Always prepare 3 questions to ask at the end of the interview (e.g. what are your expectations of me in the first month I am employed; what is it like working for this organisation; what is the next big direction for this organisation)
  • Always wait to be offered a seat before you seat down.
  • Always smile and give lots of eye contact with everybody present on the panel not just the one asking the question
  • Always sit up straight and be enthusiastic with your answers and questions; don?t speak undertone
  • Remember! The energy you show, will reflect in their enthusiasm to hire you; nobody wants a ?kill-joy?

 

People say to me that the culture of nepotism (the ?who-you-know? factor) in play during recruitments in most African countries is very high ? I don?t deny it exists. But I also believe very genuinely (because I have also experienced it) that if you do your homework well, and perform exceptionally well, in fact so well that your potential employer knows that you have proven yourself beyond a doubt as the best and most suited candidate for the role ? believe me, it will be very very hard to exercise nepotism on their part. Even if they did, at least their sleep wouldn?t be so sweet where you are concerned and you can at least hold your head very high.

 

In terms of Questions at an interview, the easiest and most practical way I have found around preparing is to do this: draw a table with two columns and as many rows. In the first column list down all the most important things (businesses/activities) the organisation does and also the job requirements (i.e. the actual activities or duties that you will be required to do in this role if you are accepted (e.g. to file customer applications orderly on a daily basis, to prepare a bank reconciliation statement at the end of every month, to chase up customers for unpaid loans etc). In the other column, try and match line by line, writing down every activity, experience, skills or anything you have done before or are still doing that makes it possible for you to contribute to or perform the particular business activity or job requirement respectively on each line. Hopefully by the end of this exercise, you should also be able to know if you are (by your own assessment) suited for the role. Let me just say however, that the understanding of most of us when it comes to the word ?experience? has to change a little, otherwise, you may wrongfully write yourself off as inexperienced for a lot of jobs. There is such a thing as ?transferrable skills?. So although you may be applying for say a job in Banking and finance, there may be many things in the job description that you could do (without further training) as a result of a remotely similar activity you may have done in your old job in a manufacturing company or even at school, even though you have never worked in the Banking and Finance sector before.

 

Below however, are some things to consider in answering some of the most common interview questions you?ll come across. Enjoy it:

 

What Are You Bringing To This Organisation?

The easiest way to prepare for this sort of question is to research and find out where the organisation is trying to go, where they are heading, their plans for the future and what they say they need to do to get there. What new activities, business operations, new products, new systems are coming on board. Then ask yourself, what skills or knowledge do you have, that will be needed by the organisation, to reach those goals. Every employer is happy to have employees whose skills or knowledge will help the organisation move into the future. Understand that it?s not all about skill ? sometimes, it is also about knowledge. If you are just graduating from university or a professional qualification, you may equally have no skill but more crucially, a certain knowledge that will be a useful ingredient in the potential employer?s future operations ? this is your ace card, use it. So remember: try matching the future direction of the organisation, with the skills or knowledge you have which may be good ingredients for that direction ? that is what you are bringing to the organisation; an ingredient for their present or future success.

 

How Did You Find Out About This Role/Job?

This is one of those questions you really can?t lie to, but my suggestion is that if it is possible, decide where you want your career to go ? is it auditing, accountancy, consultancy, banking, human resource, development, training etc? Once you have determined that, start looking for jobs in the right places. Employers who want the best HR personnel are more likely to advertise excellent positions in magazines or websites or similar platforms that are subscribed to by HR enthusiasts. And the same applies to other career paths. For some employers, potential employees who read their adverts on these types of platforms appear to them as being more focused and more discerning. They appear to potential employers as people who know where to look for the right things. However, where these kinds of targeted newsletters, magazines, internet sites, platforms don?t exist in your particular country, don?t worry, this question won?t be taking too many marks from you. The other angle to it is this ? if you heard about the role from a friend, colleague, family, etc ?there is a high chance that you are the kind of person with good human relations and you are good with keeping and managing your contacts ? this is a superior skill for any employee to have.

 

How Long Were You In Your Last Job For And Why Did You Leave??????????????????????????

Here again, employers want to fish out those who are unstable from those who are. If you are always leaving your jobs within or up to a year, you are likely to be considered as very unstable. You need to understand the way employers think. Most of them take employees on, use about 6 or so months to teach them about their companies and how things are done, and don?t forget they will be spending money on you all these while. So if you leave within another 6 months, they have just made a loss. Now, potential employers don?t have a way of gauging how long you will stay with them except by looking at how long you have stayed in other places. If you are just seeking a job for the first time or you have left a few places in the past within 1 year, then you?ll need to provide some assurance to the potential employer that you don?t intend to leave their employment anytime soon. But you can?t just say ?I?ll be here for a while? ? you have to let them see a reason why you would. Maybe you have a personal program to gain as much experience from this particular employer that you can?t find with any organisation (and don?t try to flatter them, because they always know) ; maybe the organisation itself provides an excellent personnel development programme that you want to take full advantage off; maybe you are a family person and you need some stability in your career; maybe you have gained several experiences in other places and now, you only need settling down; maybe they are the only organisation that provide the type of career you want to develop in; or maybe you have other past events in your life that you can use to prove that you are a very committed person (not your girlfriend/boyfriend type of commitment though). Whatever the case give the potential employer a reason to believe s/he won?t be making a loss employing you.

 

Source:?Charles Kofi FEKPE