The call for the resignation of the minister for Tourism Arts and Culture madam Catherine Afeku is reaching a crescendo. I have read some on social media and some articles written on the same resignation.
I am one critic when it comes to the creative Arts sector, l don’t let go the Good, Bad and the Ugly. It’s also good to read from others what their perceptive is concerning the creative Arts industry. I remember focap, a pressure, and Advocacy group called for the resignation of the deputy Minister Dr. Ziblim after his interview and comments on AFRIMA and our theatres. Focap stood by what they said even though much explanations were given on the theatres.
I want to say that I do not agree to the call that madam Catherine Afeku should step down as Minister. I think rather, we should allow her to stay, forced (pressure groups, stakeholders )to make sure she fix our industry for us. Since she stepped in almost 2yrs ago, I have been following, criticizing and making sure things are done right. I might have some time back called for her resignation but she should rather be given the pressure, directions through our articles, debates, discussions, industry players and play our watchdog role very well as industry players.
I had wanted to enumerate both good and bad pointers by close of the year but have to do it now to help add up to the debate of her sack.
1- Theatres: I seriously showed my disappointment with the NPP government and the construction of modern large seating theaters. The manifesto promised one region one theatre and we are bent in seeing it done. Upon pressure, debates etc. the ministry did a U-turn through Deputy Minister Dr. Ziblim that they will rehabilitate and build where necessary. Indeed I sat and observed critically and realized work has started and rehabilitation currently going on. Koforidua was Rehabilitated after almost 60yrs left to rot. Had it not been the NAFAC ceremony to be held in the Eastern region. One can argue that yes because of NAFAC but further to that I have seen documents, letters of commencement to work on the following theatres in (Tamale, Sekondi-Takoradi, Kumasi, and Koforidua). The cost of this Rehabilitation and Refurbishment of these theatres is costing the nation around 30 billion old Ghana cedis. The contractor has officially received right to Entry to commence work. I am happy that industry stakeholders throwing light on it with consistency has managed to get this executed. We also need to stay focused and see to its end.
2- on the 29th of January 2018 the Minster addressed stakeholders during her meet the press .interestingly there were a lot of issues raised during the meet the press but one thing that was captured which I believe will go down to history is the World Bank grant which was approved to support the ministry and it’s agencies to strengthen its institutions and stakeholders, improve sector productivity for job creation, empowering women and youth across all sectors along the creative Arts and Culture value chain as well as to enhance overall domestic /foreign tourist experience. This is the first time world Bank after intervention by both Minster tourism, arts and culture and Minister of finance. The major change we need to execute as creative Arts stakeholders are to demand accountability from the said grant. (am still watching and will come back with my feedback).
3- AFRIMA: l have always tried to shy away from AFRIMA because I rather see opportunities rather than issues. Ghana has once upon a time spent some huge amount of monies just to bring in some major events that go around the African continent.O ne major event I can identify is the Rehabilitation and construction of our four stadia which hosted the 26th African cup of nations tournament (Ghana 2008 ). The nation spent already project amount of 5.1million dollars to 152.1million dollars. This was disclosed by the director of Budget at the ministry of finance and economic planning, Mr. Kwabena Adjei -Mensah when he spoke with the Daily Graphic. The president Nana Addo Dankwa Akuffo Addo in creating opportunities for Ghanaians in the upstream oil and gas sector, in November 2017 launched a programme to train some 200 Ghanaians in the Accelerated oil and Gas (AOGC) programme. The government secured $4.5million to build capacity in Oil and gas. The whole ranging issue with AFRIMA a Pan African music concept like KORA to come to Ghana, I thought it was one big achievement and we should be excited about. Some of these events coming to your country needs a whole lot to deal with. If today Ghana has secured hosting rights for THREE YEARS and paid 250,000$ for it, bringing in almost 835 people for one week(hotels, food, entertainment, transport, Air fares, Trophy for 36 awardees, staff for production etc) costing 450000$ making it a total of 700000. Taking advantage of it in the area of selling the country, our creative Arts sector, and projecting the country’s image through music, I believe and thought it’s a good opportunity for the Creative Arts sector. What if it our neighboring country Togo decided through cabinet approval like ours, took on AFRIMA; would we have complained? The importance of AFRIMA should be utilized by us in the Creative Arts sector and derive the benefits. Aiteo CAF Awards was brought to Ghana, unarguably the biggest football gathering. Creative Arts benefited (though there were issues) but did we know how much we paid for and negotiated? I can also understand how our creative Arts sector have been starved with such events and the sector bidding for major events, unlike the sports sector. Others issues raised by others are of value and yes must be addressed. Maybe we should be asking Empire entertainment how much it cost them to organize Ghana meets Naija a private company. what I need the ministry and Ghana tourism Authority to do is to really come out with statistics as to the total benefits (revenue) the tourism sector gained, number of hotels utilized (hoteliers), number of foreigners who came in etc. Shameful we cannot have such statistics/projections because this is national money spent.
4- supporting initiatives/festivals wholly owned by Ghanaians like Chale wrote and black star film festivals are news but stakeholders deserve to know the amount which was spent on both festivals. (Right to information bill yet to be passed ohh.) Supporting local events is a good initiative and will encourage the ministry to continue. I pray one day find Chale wrote festival travel beyond Ghana and hosting fees, rights etc bought by other countries.
What I find worrying, disturbing and cannot understand is the ministry of Tourism Arts and Culture behind given 2.4 million Ghana cedis to an illegal council which is still an INTERIM COUNCIL with no LAW backing it. How on earth can we do this !. They interim council were given 3 months to institute proper council and it has taken them almost 2 yrs and still counting .madam Minister please we need answers to some of these issues. There is no board and proper council, who do they account too since the council should be autonomous there more reason the interim leader can just wake up one day and tell industry players that they will build a modern recording studio. Madam, stakeholders need explanation.
Am still surprised we still lingering on where to place our film act 935 development and Classification of Film Act office. I know LI is being prepared and at almost finishing stages I pray but the act is calling for a film Authority and l cannot fathom why it’s still not executed. Our film industry might need the film village but the law to cure the industry is still not active though its an Act.