A few days ago the Asante King, Otumfuo Osei Tutu II was reported to have purchased 3 Kantanka vehicles for his personal use. I was so excited when I heard the news, and I praised God for the action of the King.
My excitement is not born out of a personal interest, since I don’t have any direct stake in the Kantaka Company. My excitement rather stems from the fact there has been some action towards believing in ourselves.
One may say this has been long overdue; since the works of Apostle Kwadwo Safo have been with us for quite a long time. Yes it is true, but it is better late than never. At least for once, a Ghanaian leader has demonstrated a belief in the Ghanaian at the higher level. This is an exemplary tone worth emulating by other Chiefs, corporate institutions, state institutions and most importantly, the President of the country. It is a wake-up call to all of us who spend hundreds of thousands and even millions of Dollars to import cars, to give a second thought and buy made in Ghana.
We celebrate Auto brands such as Toyota, Benz, Ford, BMW, etc; for the quality of their products. The feat they have achieved over the years is as a result of the believe their own people have in them. The reason why most start ups in Ghana are not able to flourish is that, many Ghanaians don’t have the patience to wait for a product to go through the various stages of their life cycle. We have been exposed to high end products from Europe, America and other Asian countries; so we quickly compare products made in Ghana with those ones and reject our own as being inferior. This is the reason why Kantaka products have been around but we have not seen the need to use them.
One thing we should note is that quality doesn’t come at a go, it results from continuous improvements. Until now, Toyota and other big auto brands recall millions of their vehicles due to malfunction in one part or the other. So what stops us from trying our own?
The previous government made us aware that they handed over about 640 vehicles to the new government. This excludes the ones some of them bought for themselves. Most of these vehicles are Toyota brands. A few days before they left office, they also acquired about 41 brand new V8 engine Toyota Land Cruisers meant for the Judiciary. Put these numbers of Toyota vehicles together with those used by other state institutions, companies and individuals and you can guess how much we contribute to the Japanese Economy.
We give the little we have to help boost their economy, and once in a while when they donate something to us we praise them as if they are doing us a favour. We are their customers and they do that to renew and strengthen our commitment to them.
Today, Kantanka has made a customized “KANTANKA OTUMFUO” for the Asantehene; tomorrow they can make a customized “KANTANKA OMANPANIN” for the president of Ghana if he so wishes. The same way General Motors, Ford and other companies make cars for the US President. The ‘Beast’ used by President Barack Obama is a customized Cadillac a brand of General Motors. Japanese Prime Minister uses a customized Toyota Century; Chinese state officials mostly use Hongqi brands, just us British Prime Ministers use Jaguar brands – a company which began as bicycle manufacturer. All these leaders we revere use home-made products and are able to generate a lot of revenue, satisfy their people and even donate some to us.
So what is holding us back from accepting our own?
President Akufo-Addo has taken a bold decision to freeze the purchase of new state vehicles. Perhaps this could be an opportunity for him to ensure that at least 50% of vehicles the state will purchase subsequently will be from home. When we are able to do this, we will keep a good chunk of our revenue home, which can be pushed into other industries to help them grow. Gradually, we will be building international brands and our economy will take shape organically.
After all, who will buy your product if you yourself don’t trust in it?
It is time for us to face the realities of the world in which we are, and stop behaving as if someone else has been tasked to do it for us; and that person is failing to do it. Our destiny as we always say is in our own hands and the earlier we take full responsibility for ourselves the better.
People are willing to be patriotic to help build our country, but they are looking up to some leaders to set the tone for them to follow. This is where most of our leaders have failed. And it raises questions as to whether they really love the country or they only lead to satisfy their self-actualization needs.
Read also: Otumfuo buys 3 Kantanka vehicles (photos)
The situation is gradually eroding the hopes of the average Ghanaian; no wonder 1.7million Ghanaians applied to migrate to United States in 2015 alone. It is the highest number among all countries in the world.
We have to put hope back in our people, by believing in ourselves and accepting and improving upon what we do by ourselves.
This is why I commend the Asantehene for accepting to drive a Kantanka vehicle. Actions of this nature are needed not only in the auto industry, but also other industries so that businesses can expand to employ the teeming youth; and to turn round the fortunes of our country.
The writer, Abraham Gyekye is a Chartered Accountant and Member of the Institute of Chartered Accountants’ Ghana. His email, email@example.com