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What you don’t know

Last month I took an inventory of my household to find out how many Made-in-Ghana goods we were using on a regular basis.  The results of my inventory, which I printed in this newspaper, were very eye opening, to say the least.

They let me know that even I, the President of Ghana, could do better about patronising our local enterprises.  But the lesson was learned quickly: we are in the midst of replacing all of our foreign-made  goods with all of the available locally made goods.

After I took my inventory, I encouraged other Ghanaians to take an inventory of things in their own homes and to start asking themselves, “Is this made in Ghana?  If not, could it have been?”

The information made me curious to know more, so I began yet another inventory—pooling together data, including a few figures I'd already shared during my State of the Nation Address, on the amount, in volume and money, that we spend on some basic food items. This is what I discovered:

Volume and Value of Specified Imported Items—2013






Net Mass (Kg)  

Cif Gh¢

Wheat & Meslin



Tomatoes (prepared or preserved otherwise

than by vinegar)









Frozen Fish



Frozen Poultry



Palm Kernel Oil

1,111, 349.04     


Soya-Bean Oil



Groundnut Oil



Olive Oil



Palm Oil



Sunflower Seed Oil



Numbers are not always what they seem.  Sometimes they have to be considered in a larger context.  For instance, the amount of groundnut oil that we imported last year—36,221.89 kilos—appears to be relatively small, especially when held up against the much larger amounts of the other imports.  Yet that number no longer seems small when you come to understand that it represents a 1,272.24% increase from the previous year, 2012, during which we imported only 2,639.61 kilos of groundnut oil.  And, of course, all of this begs the larger question:  why are we importing groundnut oil, to begin with?  Why are we importing frozen fish and frozen chicken?  Are we not capable of producing these food items ourselves?

Dr. Kwame Nkrumah once said, “We have the blessing of the wealth of our vast resources, the power of our talents and the potentialities of our people.  Let us grab now the opportunities before us and meet the challenge to our survival.”

Imagine if all of this data represented the sales and profits of Ghanaian enterprises.  Imagine the number of additional jobs and workers that it would take for us to be able to produce, the supply that it would take to meet the obvious demand for items such as wheat, sugar, rice, and soya-bean oil.  It would be gainful employment for Ghanaians.  Imagine, too, if all the money that is currently being spent on these imported items, billions of cedis, remained in Ghana and was allowed to circulate through our system? 

Some people believe that what you don’t know can’t hurt you.  I believe that knowledge is power.  Many of us don’t know how our individual actions affect the nation as a whole.  What each and every one of us does can make a tremendous difference in Ghana’s immediate future and it can also go a long way to help us realise the dream of becoming a stable, self-sufficient nation.

I am working with the private sector to create an environment with conditions that encourage our local entrepreneurs to turn their ideas into reality, conditions that support the continued growth and success of those local enterprises and the merchandise they produce, as well as the services they offer.  We will be announcing some of the initiatives and incentives in the coming days and weeks.

This data that I have shared is alarming.  The massive amounts of money we are spending needlessly on the importation of these particular items should be a topic of conversation, but it should also be a call to action.  It should inspire us to make some changes, for the good of our beloved Ghana.

What would happen if each of us made a commitment right now, today, to buy only the Made-in-Ghana varieties of the items listed on this inventory?  How would that benefit our nation, immediately and in the long-term?  

Let’s find out together.  

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