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Meet the Man Who Is Ruining Ghana: Rashid Pelpuo

pimpleConsider a pimple – a whitehead to be exact. Over the course of time – a week perhaps – you see and feel it erupting slowly, breaking through the surface of the skin with powerful stealth until it blooms and settles on your face with opaque grotesqueness.

Frantically, you begin to stab at it, vehemently cursing the offensive acne with all your might.

How dare you show up on prom night/ my wedding day / during my job interview! This is most inconvenient and inconsiderable indeed!

So it is with Presidents and politicians.

Take John D. Mahama for instance. Like all presidents before him, and certainly all that will follow after him, the failures and/or successes of his beloved Ghana will be thrust at his feet in contempt or upon his shoulders in celebration. They will say “Mahama built us roads and bridges!” or they will say “Mahama was a thief who robbed the country blind”.

In truth, John Mahama is responsible for neither the country’s failures nor its successes. That burden belongs to his cabinet, either elected or appointed. These are the women and men who are truly responsible for the state we find Ghana in today. The “Ghanaian experience” means different things for different people. For some (meaning  few), it means a life of immense wealth and luxury. For others still, it is a life riddled with strife, want and lack. Neither of these things are Mr. Mahama’s doing. He is merely a pimple – a whitehead. Attacking or praising him is to no avail. If we are to correct Ghana’s image, we need to look beneath the surface and root out the infection manifesting as a blemish.

That infection is Rashid Pelpuo.

I’ve always wondered who the imbeciles that were ruining the land of my birth were, and now I know. No one man or woman is capable of ruining an entire nation. You need the implicit assistance of 23 cabinet ministers, 10 regional ministers and all their deputy ministers in order to collapse a nation; or in the case of Mr. Pelpuo, Minister in-charge of Private Sector Development, express assistance.

I know very little about Ghana’s government. I’ve never taken an interest in politics. I was groomed to be suspicious of all politicians and to treat them with the contempt they deserve. If you’ve seen one politician in Ghana, you’ve seen them all: and they are all swathed in crook’s clothing. This year, I have chosen to eschew willful ignorance about the inner workings of my native country’s government, and now I’m beginning to regret that decision. The cogs, I have discovered, are largely rusty and ill-fitting. Nowhere is this better exemplified than in the person of Rashid Pelpuo.

Mr. Pelpuo first caught my attention when I was forwarded this article on PeaceFmOnline (http://business.peacefmonline.com/news/201305/164557.php). It was entitled: We Won’t Protect Local Business Against Competition Says Gov’t.

Of course my interest was piqued immediately. The slant of the title alone was very damning, and one has to wonder what government official of a such fledgling economy would have the gall to admit that the government would tacitly allow foreign companies to overrun local business.

In the article, Mr. Pelpuo reportedly opines that the government of Ghana would not relent to requests by local businesses to protect them from the rampant influx and influence of foreign competition. In his rebuff, he advised local business owners “to endeavor to offer their best to enable them withstand the competition or at best, undo it.”

This is where I got stuck. I skimmed through the rest of the article, frantically searching for a hint of redemption in Mr. Pelpuo’s regard. Surely, someone who holds the title Minister in charge of Private Sector Development ought to hold the capacity to understand that vast majority local Ghanaian businesses are in no shape to compete against multi-national conglomerates? These organizations come flushed with capital, technology, investor backing and in some cases, the backing of their own governments. How is a Ghanaian Mom & Pop shop supposed to compete against that?

In discussing the abysmal utterances with others, I found that they were equally aghast.

What Mr. Pelpuo suggests in itself is not inherently asinine. It’s actually good business advice. If you want more people to buy your product, then you need to offer them your best. However, this advice falls under the category of marketing and advertising (at best), and does nothing to further the cause of implementation. And for local business owners and manufacturers to compete effectively against foreign companies, they will need government assistance in ways Mr. Pelpuo has probably not thought about.

Despite the hype and propaganda, Ghana is not yet in the position to protect itself from the effects of foreign oligopolies; and as usual, it all comes back to failed and crumbling infrastructure.  As  @geoessah points out:

george tomatoes

For those of you who do not live in Ghana, the true test of any of our newly constructed roads comes during the rainy season, when torrential rains are literally capable of washing away entire sections of a street over the course of a few months. Why these roads are so fragile comes down to an age-old plague: corruption. A contractor gets the bid to build a road, several officials get their share of the money that is supposed to be invested into the road, a few of the workers may siphon off coal-tar and gravel to use at home, and the result is a shoddily built road. Happens every year.

In this instance, which repeats itself in industries all over Ghana, the industrious and hardworking tomato farmer spends the growing and harvesting season getting his crop ready for market. As he loads up his produce, he discovers to his dismay that his cargo is stuck on the road in the middle of the country due to poor road conditions. He is unable to get his goods to market and fill orders. He devices a work around, perhaps sending his tomatoes in smaller batches. Now the transportation costs have gone up. He has no choice but to pass this costs along to the consumer, who in turn does not understand why a tomato with a short shelf life and nearly rotten should cost so much. Enter the government’s alternative solution: Let’s not fix the roads. Let’s rather do a deal with Monsanto and offer the public genetically modified tomatoes with a shelf life of 2 months. We know just how to spin it! This is what they are eating in America.  It’s better for you than our local foods anyway… because it’s from America, land of prosperity.


I did some digging around on Rashid Pelpuo’s background to find out what made him such an authority on Private Sector Development. You’re going to love this.

Abdul-Rashid Pelpuo  has a degree in Education from the University of Cape Coast and later earned a Masters in International Affairs from the same institution in 1998. He entered the parliament of Ghana in 2005 on the NDC ticket and was appointed Minister of Youth and Sports in 2009 after the resignation of his predecessor. He was replaced by Akua Dansua after a cabinet reshuffle in 2010, to be appointed deputy Majority Leader in Parliament instead.

Fair enough. What deals has Mr. Pelpuo brokered to make him an authority on Private-Public partnerships and development? I could find none. What I did find was a number of rants calling for Chris Brown’s arrest for smoking weed on stage, a denial that he owns a fleet of cars, and other inconsequential things. Whether this is a failure of Ghana’s media to report on his achievements or an indication that he actually has not achievements outside of an unexplained trajectory through the ranks of government, I cannot say. But what I do know for sure is that this man and all those of his ilk are ruining the country through their unabashed hubris and willful ignorance.

We need true experts who have demonstrated a capacity to work with players at all levels of development in order to get Ghana working, not just some guy with a Master’s degree offering platitudes about private citizens “offering their best”.

I’m sure if we dug through the backgrounds of all of our parliamentarians, we would find them woefully lacking in the capacity to hold their posts. Rsahid Pelpuo just happened to catch my special attention (and ire) at the moment.

We cannot afford nepotism, favoritism and 30 other isms in this juncture of Ghana’s development. We are in a new century for Heaven’s sake – with phones that talk and cars that can go under water! Can we get some people in office who know how to at least draw up policy to encourage our student population to get a footing in the technology race? I’d do a handstand if a leader would open his/her mouth to admit that they were even thinking in that direction, instead of waiting for private citizens to do it on their own… otherwise, what do we need government for?

Tell me if I’m wrong ↓


This article has 9 comments

  1. george essah

    You’re so right. Too many square pegs in round holes. Hope he gets reshuffled out to another post before he does more harm to his sector. He comes across as a nice fellow but I won’t suffer politicians. Knowing the suspicion we view them with, the least they could do to earn our trust it to guide the speeches. That’s the least they could do. We’ve heard people like Asamoah-Boateng, ex-minister in the Kuffuor administration, asking women to sleep naked since they had access to free maternal care that would cater for them in the event they get pregnant. Literally asking them to be irresponsible. You’ve got people with the mentality that once they’re not paying for maternal health care, they could go on and have more children regardless of their capacity to cater for them. After all if the state asks us to have more children, the state would provide for them. Nsem pii.

  2. Nana Ama

    Ms M you are sooo right! Both parties, NPP and NDC have morons as MPs! None of them has even a gnat-sized clue what to do to turn things round in our beloved country. Which makes them ideal errand boys and girls for implementing Goldman Sachs policies parading as IMF/World Bank strategies!

    And your analysis of the Monsanto business model is spot on!

    And as yet, none of the African leaders have cottoned on to the ETHNIC DROWNING policy of the Chinese government, let alone develop meaningful responses to stem the tide! Lord have mercy!

  3. Rowie

    Preach sister!!! our rulers get more annoying with each day!! how can i start a business when the lights go out from morning till evening with no warning?! How can i pay people to sit in darkness all day? you ask me to buy a generator? i just started the company! how can i afford a generator? then a Chinese guy will bring goods from China, including a generator and come and start a business next door to me. in my own country! i am making losses and he is making profit. In MY country! and you ask me to compete? tseewwww!
    thank you for this! exactly what i’ve been thinking!
    most annoying part is this guy will be in cabinet till he retires.. spending our taxes. smh

  4. Malaka

    It’s disgusting, disheartening and deplorable. Rowie makes the point excellently with her example and these are the major hurdles that many local businesses just can’t overcome well enough to make a profit or to invest in improving their product. Much of their earnings and/or profit potential is used to finance workarounds for crumbling infrastructure instead of being used to finance innovation!
    Like I said, Pelpuo wouldn’t come off so clueless if he had made these remarks in Frankfurt or Houston where there are reliable and dependable networks, but he looks outside of his window and sees the same mess we do, Only difference is, he gets to ride through it in his pretty government financed car.
    Talk about Marie Antoinette 4.0!

  5. ammaaboagye

    Reblogged this on My Nostalgia for the Future and commented:
    I love ‘Naming and Shaming’— I think it’s one of the best methods of Accountability when that shame is followed with real consequences. I am also a fan of Naming and Faming, for those who deserve that honor. Of late… I have had few reasons for the latter. This post by Mz.Malaka does well in Naming and Shaming… any chance of a consequence? Hahah! Great read!

    • Malaka

      Consequence? In Ghana?? Chile, please. But the day is soon coming when these people face the brunt of the public’s dissatisfaction. My hope is that it will not take Accra burning or blood in the streets for them to change their ways of for our grievances to be taken seriously!

  6. Rashid Pelpuo

    I read with a lot of disgust and surprise the article by Malaka with the title ‘Meet the Man Who Is Ruining Ghana: Rashid Pelpuo’. The writer her self seems to be a journalist because she writes with flare and one can easily get carried away by the apparent demonstration of knowledge which was not one of the things I saw in this article. After reading this article I read other articles of hers and realised her strength of communication which, in writing about me, she grossly misused.

    Anyway Madam Malaka wrote about me without knowing me. She sought knowledge about me and got it all wrong. She based her article on a publication which was wrongly captioned and wrongly understood. The publication was followed by a rejoinder I wrote which she deliberately ignored. ( I have reproduced it below for your perusal).She misled all these many young people who said all these bad things about me. This is thoroughly unfair and a disregard of my reputation which I build over years of struggle.

    To start with Madam Malaka, It is true that I hold a degree in Education and Economics from the University of Cape Coast but it’s false that I took my Master of Arts degree in International Affairs from the same University. In fact you missed out on my academic qualifications and pertinent experience and it hurts that you should claim knowing me from the armchair research you did. You made so many categorization in your article that I pray you don’t already have a bias or some kind of xenophobia that makes you write with such a harsh tone about a person who’s only fault is that he was misunderstood and because of a misleading headline and report.

    Any way am pasting the response I gave to all those who were genuinely worried and reacted to the said publication

    Rejoinder: We will not protect local businesses – Pelpuo

    I will be grateful if you could publish a rejoinder to a report by your esteem radio station about a statement I had made at a Business Forum organised by the BCIU last week.
    The report was to the effect that I had said Government “will not protect” Ghanaian Businesses against foreign businesses. I believe that without a fuller explanation, the story will be thoroughly misleading and in bad taste.
    The background to it all is that before I went to the forum to speak, I was confronted with the question as to why Government will not protect Ghanaian companies by making laws that set up more trade barriers to exclude foreign companies from participating in our market? Because I was to address business leaders at the forum, I thought it was important to use that platform to explain the possible consequences of adopting any such policy recommendation.
    In my address to the forum, I explained that though there was urgent need to protect local companies Government was not in the mood to make such laws as to prevent foreign participation in our market.
    I indicated that there are international trade laws to which Ghana has subscribed that allow our government to set up some tariffs and levies on foreign products coming into our country. However, tariffs, duties and other fees and levies normally have their limits, according to international standards. In the case of some specific goods, Ghana has reached the internationally acceptable limits.
    My view was and still is that if after applying all these levies and fees etc we still have our companies not being competitive enough in the face of foreign rivals, the solution to making our businesses viable in the face of stiff competition from foreign multi-nationals will not be protective measures like passing laws that will seek to block foreign business from entering our market. Instead, the solution will be in creating the needed enabling environment to support Ghanaian businesses.
    Indeed, the number one priority of most businesses in Ghana is access to capital and the injection of the right type of technology to make their products competitive. Again, many will want business linkages to enable them have access to a wider market. The idea, therefore, will be to support indigenous businesses through financial innovation that will help small and medium size enterprises to have easy access to capital. Again, there is serious work underway to ensure that Ghanaian businesses have access to cheap and reliable power supply to help fuel their operations.
    At that business forum, I stated that the Government will implement the five flagship projects of the Private Sector Development Strategy II (PSDSII), which –– in the main –– will address all the above mentioned challenges facing indigenous businesses.
    In trying to put these across, I was misunderstood by the media and misreported.
    Let me use this opportunity to assure the Ghanaian Public that I will always work to protect our common interest and project the commitment of government to develop the private sector for which reason the President of the Republic, His Excellency John Dramani Mahama, has appointed me as Minister of State at the Presidency.
    I thank you for your kind attention.

    Hon. Abdul Rashid Hassan Pelpuo (MP)
    Minister of State Responsible for Public-Private Partnership
    Dated: May 20, 2013

    • george essah

      The minister’s response maybe clarifies government’s position on private sector development but then again if this cannot be conveyed in the first instance, then there is no use coming back to explain matters. We’ve had several occasions where information gets put out, runs its full course before a comeback is made for damage-limitation. I’m not suggesting this to be the case with Mr Pelpuo’s rejoinder. It’s just an observation I’ve made.
      Hoping that Mr. Pelpuo is reading this, sir I’d humbly like to draw your attention to the fact that there is a total disconnect, communication-wise, between your government and the average Ghanaian. Simply put: we don’t know where we’re headed. My only grasp of government’s economic policy is gleaned from budget statement addressed to parliament. I wonder how many people out there would take the trouble to download PDF files from the ministry of finance website just to get up to speed with government’s intentions for the nation.
      There’s so much I’d like to tell you sir but you can imagine how difficult it is to type on your phone’s touchscreen having no choice of using a PC because your lights having been out the whole day.

    • Malaka

      Greetings, oh Venerable Rashid Pelpuo. How good of you to condescend to my blog and leave a comment regarding a topic that is piercing to many a forward thinking Ghanaian citizen’s heart: that being the gradual and steady destruction of our country and who is responsible for it. Let’s get right down to it, shall we?

      (Continue reading here: https://mindofmalaka.com/2013/06/09/in-response-to-the-honorable-rashid-pelpuos-disgust/)

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