The call by our governments over the years to patronise our own is finally getting home. From apparel to our food, Ghanaians are getting the message that what is ours is ours, appreciating and consuming imported items results in our inability to expand local enterprises. This ultimately results in the high unemployment figures that we have in the country today.
We all know that Ghanaians have manufactured so many things that can compete favourably with its counterparts on the world market. Unfortunately they cannot because of the poor quality which makes it impossible for them to stand toe to toe with the imported competition.
Take for example our world-renowned Golden Tree chocolate, winner of many international awards but cannot face competition from the imported brands because potential buyers have been swayed by clever advertising to assume that the foreign import is of far superior quality than the locally manufactured!
This unfortunate situation even extends to alcoholic beverages, a business venture which Ghana is gradually gaining recognition as a great blender and distiller. This can be gleaned from the long list of drinks locally bottled- ranging from the so-called medicinal, the various bitters to the locally brewed akpeteshie. This drink, patronized by our forefathers, has almost disappeared from the shop shelves only to seek shelter under the counter because ‘men of distinction’ from the high society are not to be seen quaffing it.
Having succeeded in virtually driving the drink underground, the merchants replaced it with the imported exotic brands to the detriment of the economy. Buoyed by subsidies from the brewers and bottlers and with the power of advertising, the importers have almost killed the local akpeteshie brewing industry.
Many Ghanaians have given various reasons why they do not patronize it. They include the aroma which they find awful, the taste in most cases is not as smooth as the foreign whiskies and gins and famously, it is beneath their status!
Though we are not advocating for an unbridled use of alcoholic drinks, acknowledging its destructive tendencies if not drank in moderation, we are happy that GIHOC Distilleries has come out with its Apet Dry Gin which should provide the needed competition against the imported drinks.
Looking purely at the financial implications of the influx of foreign alcoholic drinks, we at Goldstreet Business agree totally with GIHOC Distilleries’ board chairman, Col Ebo Bartels when he said local hotels patronize these foreign drinks, but will not display locally manufactured drinks on their shelves, and do not feel any sense of guilt; an issue that is detrimental to the growth of the local alcoholic industry.
This is why Parliament, the Tourism, Trade and Finance ministries are expected to put legislation in place to protect the sector most especially as some tourists have vouched for the quality of the local drink.
To that end, we believe the local drink must be served at state functions while extra taxes must be placed on the imported ones to make the local business lucrative.
Not just the drinks, but also our banku, asana, palm wine, kelewele, the popular roasted plantain and groundnut -Kofi Brokeman – among other local foods and delicacies. How do we expect tourists to patronize foods and drinks they do not see us eating or drinking? It is therefore time to change our mentality and go for what is ours.
Goldstreet Business believes when this is done properly, Ghana stands a chance of making money from these business which will also create employable opportunities for the currently unemployed, as they will become tappers and distillers who will play a crucial role in the value chain.