In recent times every African state is fighting poverty, but there are no realistic and pragmatic approaches to this problem, if economic freedom do not become the hall mark, we shall continuously fight and an endless war. Therefore there will be the urgent need for Africans as a whole to fight for the freedom of their economy to enhance the standard living of the individuals because all government programs accomplish the opposite of what they are designed to achieve. Economic growth and individual freedom are intrinsically linked.
It is therefore the key to greater opportunity and an improved quality of life. Economic freedom affects every aspect of an individual’s life. A society with high levels of economic freedom will have fewer rates of poverty, unemployment, higher incomes as well as a cleaner environment. However, the absence of economic freedom in African countries has led to several barriers to prosperity in the economy.
The CEO and the President of a new and a youthful Think Thank; BASTIAT INSTITUTE OF LIBERTY AND ENTREPRENEURSHIP(BILE) in Tema, Mr Bismark Peter.K. Kwofie has expressed that, ”African leaders lack the good policies to embrace and institute minimal government interventions in the economy to eliminate economic inequality rather than monopolizing every sector of the economy and practicing protectionism and totalitarianism in disguise. He further said, ‘we need to imbibe political innovation and economic diversity. Government is not good at doing business and anytime government tries to solve a problem the its rather escalates’.
The power drunkenness of our political leaders and long stay of our leaders in power are now delicacies. Our African leaders who are supposed to speed up economic progress in our continent and withstand political and economical powers are contrarily infringing upon the freedom of their own people and the economy as a whole. Due to illiteracy, ignorance and their own selfish interests, they impoverish their people instead of making them feel comfortable socially, politically and economically.
Between 2010 and 2011, no region made greater strides in economic freedom than Africa. However, this progress of economic freedom has halted. Ghana, is facing multiplicity of taxes, and other hikes. Most African leaders take presidency as an opportunity to amass wealth as they can increase their influence among ignorant citizens. The quest for power is the order of the day.
With reference to President Pierre Nkurunzinza of Burundi, Colonel Muamar Gaddafi who ruled Libya for 42years, President Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe who is in power for over 35years, President Paul Biya of Cameroon among others who have attained so much wealth but yet still refuse to step down. Majority of these leaders happen to be preaching short term stay by the constitution but are all paradoxical and who instead of making the money for the people, make it from themselves. This factor suppresses economic freedom in Africa greatly.
Property rights as a whole present opportunities to only individuals with financial resources and political connections to take advantage of the rural poor people, particularly women. This leads to large concentrations of land and inequitable development. Property rights in its own way disturb the tenure security of a particular property. With this system of property rights in Africa that is viewed as legitimate, small holders of enterprises can only use their claim for collateral for agricultural inputs, improvements, innovations, and expansion of their enterprises. All these attest to the fact that property rights are never in the favour of economic freedom.
In Ghana, one buys a land and owes for Only 99 years after which the Government can lay its constitutional hands on it. Clear, secure, and negotiable rights to land and resources are an essential foundation for trade and a key component of a growth-friendly enabling environment. When land and other systems effectively protects these rights, individuals, groups, and legal entities make a variety of forward-looking investments in capital and other inputs because they are more confident that they will capture any future returns from their efforts. Africa has so many natural resources at its disposal, with the proper understanding of property rights and the non-aggression principal, there is no limit to what can be achieved.
The Non- Tariff Barriers(NTBs) can also be identified as one of the numerous obstacles to Africa’s economy. Non – Tariff Barriers refer to restrictions that result from prohibitions, conditions or specific market requirements that make importation and exportation of products difficult and costly. These NTBs arise from difficult measures taken by governments and authorities in the form of government laws, regulations, policies, conditions, restrictions or specific requirements and private sector business practices or prohibitions that protect the domestic industries from foreign competition.
As a result of agreements negotiated at the World Trade Organization (WTO), traditional trade protection measures such as tariffs and quotas are falling away. But to some extent, they are being replaced by domestic and technical regulations that permit countries to bar products from entering their markets if the products do not meet certain standards. The unfortunate thing is that, these international trading system also reflect political choices and gives in favor to the rich only. For several years in the 1990s for example, European countries banned fish from Kenya, Mozambique, Tanzania and Uganda due to concerns about these countries’ sanitary standards and control systems. Ghana for example, has been banned from exporting red oil to the Uk market due to unhealthy and ironically awesome addons to boost coloration and taste.
The various trade rules and regulations imposed on Africans themselves and the west by their neighbors also serve as a threat to its economic freedom. West Africa is the European Union’s largest trading partner in the Sub-Saharan Africa. EU supplies a large part of the equipment that contributes to the economic growth and development in the region and is the main export market for West African agricultural and fisheries product. Ivory Coast, Ghana and Nigeria are therefore accountable for 80% of West Africa’s export to the EU. Due to these rules, Africa’s ‘superpower economies’ like South Africa and Nigeria fall under the quartiles of economic freedom. As Africans as we are, we are never allowed to even trade among ourselves.
In an average, freedom in our economy can be measured in a percentage of about 15% based on numerous archaic trade rules. These trade rules should be seriously reviewed to aid in economic freedom in Africa. African countries trade among themselves at 15%. Making communication phone calls between African countries are too expensive as compared to making a similar to the western countries.
Transport within ECOWAS countries are nothing to write home about. What diplomatic negotiations do our leaders discuss and have not addressed this canker?. A $960 round trip airfare ticket from Ghana to Zimbabwe can also be used for the same round trip to India. Just look at the distance between the two round trip destinations with the same rate. This obviously denote that we cannot trade among ourselves to enhance sales and production. What is the role of the African Union(AU)?. African to some extent do not trust each other if so, dissolve the African Union as the League of Nation was before the United Nations.
No improvement in the economy on the continent making it a future of no hope for the younger generation. Lets enhance intra-African trade to share ideas. There has been lots of promises to promote free trade but when are these about starting. Ghana is on the verge of providing Visas on arrival from all the African Union (AU) member states. There are other countries with visas on arrival but this would not foster enough perimeter for us to trade. Economic Community of West Africa States(ECOWAS) do not have rails that can economically ameliorate trade morale. What is then economic about the states?
The high levels of corruption in the administrative systems of African countries contribute greatly to the boundary of Africa’s economic freedom. The high level of lack of transparency and systematic corruption undermines economic growth. Reports show that corruption in Africa is increasing rapidly and there will be the urgent need for check instantly. Moreover, scarce compromises and delay in judicial processes and poorly paid judges in its own way tempt judges and those in authority to take bribes. When this happen, Africans who are financially handicap suffer the worst.
The legislative arm, for which the indigents of the state have entrusted power to and is expected to address and probe the deeds of the government has failed us.Part of the dynamics in society as social values change from discipline and meritocracy to financial power. Where the major indicator for success is wealth and power. People endowed with wealth are respected and treated with dignity, thus motivating others to look for wealth through any means – genuine or foul. The system Create opportunities for all to make it.
For instance, in property right where the rich ones have much merit than the less privileged, rights and properties are illegally taken from their rightful owners due to bribery, political connections and nepotism. When this happen, young entrepreneurs who have the vision of starting up businesses with their meager capitals have their dreams and aspirations destroyed. This can tend to put African in an economic bondage.
According to Algeria country report; Freedom in the World,2015, more than 2,000 corruption cases were investigated in 2012, and many subsequently, but these have resulted in few convictions. Despite the existence of ant-icorruption laws, a lack of government transparency, low levels of judicial independence, and bloated bureaucracies contribute to corruption.
Algeria’s east-west highway has been dubbed “the most expensive highway in the world,” with a significant percentage of the contracts allegedly distributed through bribes. In 2014, Algeria dropped to 100 out of 175 countries and territories surveyed in Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index. No country is sacred to corruption but either doubling up to be the best or trying to fight corruption without results. Remember,YOU CAN DO SOMETHING FOR NOTHING, BUT YOU CANNOT DO NOTHING FOR SOMETHING.
Central planning will eventually destroy individual liberty by concentrating all political power in one person or in a committee; furthermore, it will eventually end our prosperity by laying the dead hand of state control on the economy. Law and morality is centrally important in a free society but government threatens freedom by using the law to become active in the economy. We would never be able to amass wealth as far as governments keeps borrowing to spend and citizens paying from the little accumulated money from hard earn work through a legal theft call Tax.There will never be a great society unless the materialism of the welfare state is replaced by individual initiative and responsibility.
The Ghana Institution of Surveyors (GhIS), has urged Parliament to ensure that the Survey Council Bill is passed into law. It expressed worry that the bill, if passed into law, would make it possible for the establishment of an Authority to register surveyors and regulate their activities but it had been placed before Parliament for more than 20 years without any attempt to unfold and a given attention. Such practices are upbraiding in era were every one is fighting to overcome red tapeism.
I believe strongly that if individuals as well as group of people in Africa advocate for solutions to these limitations, the economy will be free.
BISMARK PETER k. KWOFIE
TEMA – GHANA
Bastiat Institute of Liberty and Entrepreneurship(BILE)