Friday, July 17, 2009

IMANI in a Special Report to the Friedrich Naumann Foundation (FNF) on “Freedom and Property” in Germany

FNF asked IMANI founder, Franklin Cudjoe to attend an international seminar on “Freedom and Property” in Germany. Cudjoe obliged. As a time - honoured tradition of both IMANI and the FNF to report on their international assignments, we respectfully request your company to listen and discuss Cudjoe’s report on the importance of Property rights to a developing country such as Ghana.
Property rights are the bedrock for any nation’s development. Contrary to many conspiracy theories, Western countries grew rich by cultivating respect for property rights. The African story on property rights is a sorry mix of colonial alienation of property from indigenes and post colonial plunder of property by African leaders in the name of wealth and welfare distribution.
The former Gold Coast was a prosperous country as a result of cocoa exports to the West, with cocoa farmers the most prosperous and the subsistence producers the poorest groups. Post independent politics virtually expropriated the produce of cocoa farmers through centralized marketing boards which caused a rebellion from cocoa farmers. Marketing boards still exist today.
There are over 60,000 land cases in our superior courts alone, many spanning seven to ten years. This poses a threat to investor confidence in the Ghanaian economy.
Intellectual property rights are even worse. Works of art are barely rewarded. Many Ghanaians enjoy the product of musicians but hardly would pay for their work, because many are pirated and sold. Another, important danger to disrespecting intellectual property rights is the menace of counterfeited medicines. Ghana and many African countries are home to some 50% of counterfeited medicines.
In many oil producing African countries, when oil is found on your land, you are literally cleared off the land by government. Armed rebellion against the state and oil companies follows. This often gives rise to the notion that having natural resources is a curse.

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