'Crony capitalism' threatening business in Ghana –Bright Simons

Bright Simons[/caption] Ghanaian entrepreneur Bright Simons has accused political leaders in the country of cronyism, stating they have succeeded in creating a society that only supports persons and businesses connected to them. He said the country’s political leaders are no more interested in supporting a society in which talents and innovation flourish, hence asked politicians “to stop being hypocritical about it” and confront problem head on. Appearing on Hot Issues on TV3 Saturday, Mr Simons said “we’ve slowly sleep walked into a society where the only ticket to support across almost every business domain you can think of, is some relationship with somebody in power”. He contended that such environment does not ensure thriving innovators, innovation, and businesses. Mr Simons, who is the vice president for the think-tank group IMANI, indicated how companies are created overnight and given major government projects with millions of dollars just because of some connection with a particular political regime. Such companies, he noted, usually go into hibernation once political leadership of the country changes. “Think about it, when was the last time a major government IT project involved companies that have been in this country for the last 10 years and are well-known? Almost always, there is some overnight mushroom company that gets put together specifically for that particular contract and then you get millions of dollars from the government and we see very little of them once the government changes. “How much haven’t you seen pumped into various IT initiatives and projects backed by millions of dollars of government money. Ask yourself, all of those contractors, why were they not known before a particularly government decided to give them those contracts? What has happened to them when government has changed power?,” he asked. He said these political leaders are only interested in businesses and persons that either support or finance their political agenda and campaign. “They’re only interested in those that can have a direct impact on their own bottom line and that’s either getting re-elected or sorting out their own finances,” he stated on the show. “So unless you’re in the political party and you’re a financier of the political party or you’re friends with particular leaders, the interest in actually supporting your growth as an innovative company or as an innovator is almost non-existent” he said. Touching on the growth of Ghana’s telecom industry, he said a lot more needed to be done, noting development of the sector has not moved beyond the base infrastructure which is voice and data services. He said there is a thriving software development ecosystem, but that unfortunately have not been allowed to thrive beyond numbers into actual value creation and to actual revenue growth among others. “We’ve got significant numbers of engineers coming out of our schools, to what extent are they given opportunities to put their full talents to use?” he asked. “We have a huge legacy to live up,” he said, adding there is clearly room for growth in the area of micro insurance, e-healthcare, e-agriculture and others. The problem, according to the man who founded mPedigree, a company that provides technology to help authenticate products, “is that we live in a society where the government, every government that I have seen, but particularly the last couple of governments, have been completely as far as I’m concerned, disinterested in actual innovation” in the telecom industry. This he, explained, has been largely because they don’t understand the system “but a lot of it is crony capitalism”.

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By Stephen Kwabena Effah|3news.com|Ghana]]>