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In a few months IMANI Centre for Policy & Education will be releasing the latest edition of our flagship Inspirational Sector Leadership Awards (IPSLA). As usual IMANI will use this platform to acknowledge the champions of best practices within the public sector space and identify the gaps that must be filled to ensure the highest standards of public service delivery in Ghana. 

 In the meantime have a look at some legacy articles from our previous IPSLA events.  


IPSLA 2010

“…When all was said and done, our team and external consultants settled on the following inspirational leaders of 5 promising state institutions.

Kwesi Bekoe Amissah-Arthur, Governor of the Bank of Ghana

The Governor impressed us with his conduct of the affairs of the Monetary Policy Committee in particular, though there is evidence that other aspects of the Bank’s work, such as banking inspection, have also improved. Despite pressure from political forces to go beyond moral suasion in compelling the banks to reduce interest rates, the Governor has been unwavering in going where the evidence leads. Diplomatically, he has rebuked the government to pay the contractors and stop dithering, since this has an effect on non-performing loans in the system, and by extension lending rates. In the words of Friedman, “inflation everywhere is a monetary phenomenon”. What this quip means in this context is that the Governor’s conduct of monetary policy has more than contributed to the era of stable inflation and the stable national currency. His attitude to his duties has helped stem the loss of investor confidence that marked the early months of 2009. He may be dour, but only in a manner quite becoming of a guy who has his fingers on the nation’s purse strings.

Alfred Oko Vanderpuije, Chief Executive of the Accra Metropolitan Assembly

After a number of false starts, the Mayor quickly settled into the hot seat of managing the affairs of the country’s most politically sensitive city. We were unimpressed in the early months of his administration, especially during the botched decongestion exercise, and we still have a few unresolved policy differences with him about the right approach to urban “planning”. The jury is also still out on his sanitation policy, which some have interpreted as a “get Zoomlion” strategy, and also on his outdoor advertising directives. But the Mayor is fast learning to focus the energies of the assembly on the big picture. His symbolic raids on government agencies in pursuit of property rates arrears and his optimistic courting of Jeffrey Sachs’ Millennium City initiative are all testimony to a determination to “transform” how city management is done in Ghana. He has refrained from involving himself in petty partisan squabbles and maintained a balanced posture with respect to Accra’s many chieftaincy and other sectarian faultlines. He wants greater devolution of power from the central government to the towns and regions, and he has even begun developing investment plans for some of the most challenging sectors under his jurisdiction. The results are yet to change the fortunes of the city, but we were inspired by his energy and commitment.

Akwasi Osei, Chief Psychiatrist, Accra Psychiatric Hospital

For many years, the Chief Psychiatrist was almost a lone crusader for mental health policy reforms in this country. Today, he has been joined by a number of non-governmental organisations and won the attention of the President. Some have faulted his professional diplomacy skills, following persistent falling outs with the sector Minister. But what the Chief Psychiatrist lacks in negotiation skills, he more than makes up for it with relentless focus, determination and dedication. His knowledge of psychiatric issues and the policy environment is encyclopaedic, even daunting. He has also shown that he has a streak of positive opportunism in him. Seizing on the Anas Aremeyaw exposes, rather than feel indicted by it, he has forced mental health issues up the media’s priority list for the health sector, bringing into sharp focus such matters as alcohol regulation, substance abuse, and community-based care. And by reminding all of us that there is one psychiatrist for every 2 million Ghanaians, Akwasi Osei has changed the terms of the debate. He isn’t bringing a neglected issue to our attention; he is exposing the hollowness of our Ghanaian civilisation.

The Commissioners of the Commission for Human Rights & Administrative Justice

CHRAJ’s managers never hide from the fact that there is a host of human rights issues across the breadth and depth of this country that their limited resources and personnel prevent them from even remotely addressing. But there has never been a doubt about the organisation’s direction. This year, they have navigated political controversy and militant cynicism, and come out with their reputation intact. They have been vocal in urging greater speed in prisons reforms, and even louder in their denunciation of the mob mentality that still dogs nominally liberal-democratic Ghana. They have firmly planted the issue of disability rights in the labour reform agenda of Ghana. When “decongestion” became a lazy excuse for haphazard demolition activities, CHRAJ descended upon municipal authorities, giving much impetus to public interest activists who took to the Law Courts to redress the excesses of these so-called “urban planning” programs. CHRAJ has never missed an opportunity this year to paint for all of us what a “decent and humane society” looks like.

The Frontline Staff of the National Disaster Management Organisation

NADMO failed to take major steps towards achieving the organisation’s own objective of transforming into a comprehensive risk preventive system for the country from its current status as a disaster response agency. But the organisation’s field staff need to be commended for their valiant efforts this year in responding to multiple incidents, predominantly flooding-related, across the country. Lack of policy robustness notwithstanding, these underpaid personnel responded quite creditably to tragedies across the length and breadth of our nation, from the marshy banks of the Volta to the arid grasslands of the Savannah. Many risked their lives, as they wrestled against the elements, working without the right equipment and protective gear. Their actions are the stuff of which genuine patriotism is made, and not the bombastic rhetoric of the Accra elite.



IPSLA 2012

So, distinguished readers, there you have it: the 2012 Top 5 Most Inspirational Public Sector Leaders.

1. Professor Joshua Alabi, Vice Chancellor, University of Professional Studies, Accra (UPSA)

Barely a year ago, Parliament passed the University of Professional Studies Act. What was then the Institute of Professional Studies was overnight admitted into the prestigious ranks of the country’s public universities.

This could have been the highlight of Professor Alabi’s tenure at the Institute. He had been appointed three and a half years prior to the change of status, and had been responsible for shepherding the process past sceptical Parliamentarians from all sides of the political divide worried about the ‘lack of focus on core mandate’ that has become the bane of many of Ghana’s public universities.

But Professor Alabi, whose first term of office came to an end in January of this year, can point to more than one highlight in his term. Having worked for about two decades prior to his appointment to the position of Rector, he demonstrated very early on a keen eye for spotting the institute’s assets and unique value propositions. As a specialist school in accounting and management, he immediately realised that the institute had a competitive edge over the traditional science and humanities universities in Ghana that were busy piling up courses in business disciplines. He charged into the business education space with a vengeance, investing appropriately in facilities and adjunct faculty to capture a new customer base, those eager to set up on their own. This freed the University from the excessive reliance on the pool of public servants looking for promotion, a pool fiercely targeted by the likes of Legon and GIMPA.

UPSA’s post-graduate program is steadily rising in stature, and more courses are passing successfully under the sharp scalpel of the National Accreditation Board. This year, IMANI believes that Professor Joshua Alabi deserves the top spot in its public sector rankings for his quiet, sturdy, and persistent focus on utilising the resources of UPS with a shrewd emphasis on returns and a long-term goal of sustainable excellence. Given the fiscal recklessness we have seen in parts of the public sector this year, this attitude is worth celebrating.

There is of course more to do at UPSA. Curriculum design could receive more attention. Institutional governance could do with a facelift. Student welfare and alumni relations can still be improved, but all in all, comparing the present with what Professor Alabi came to meet, we can confidently applaud him for remarkable leadership in the face of general constraints.

2. The Graphic Communications Group

With its household-name brands, such as the Daily Graphic and the Weekend Mirror, the Graphic Communications Group has long been a prominent fixture of the country’s media landscape. But rarely have Ghanaians paused to consider the management and systems excellence responsible for the staying power of these publications.

Despite fierce competition in the heavily depressed packaging industry in Ghana, Graphic Packaging, the Group’s industrial arm, managed to reduce year on year losses by over 90% during the last financial year for which independently audited results are available.

Graphic Communications has shown consistently that it has one of the most advanced internal controls and preventive structures among corporate organisations in the country by regularly presenting robust accounts to internal and external auditors. For a public corporation, this dedication to world-class corporate governance is remarkable, and certainly commendable. For this reason the Group takes second spot on our 2012 rankings.

3. Dr. Kofi Mbiah, Chief Executive, Ghana Shippers Authority (GSA)

Given all the hassle Ghanaians go through at our ports due to arbitrary and chaotic clearance procedures, despite years of costly IT-based and other reforms, it will come to some as a surprise that the winner of the third slot on our 2012 Public Sector rankings is someone from the country’s maritime leadership.

But it is precisely because we want to fix the spotlight on these unacceptable conditions at our ports – the corruption, inefficiency, arbitrariness, abuse of discretion, weak systems, etc. – that we want to acknowledge Dr. Kofi Mbiah as one of the few individuals working to bring some decency into maritime trade affairs in this country.

While the GSA does not play a major role in the more chaotic part of the sector: the goods clearance process, since it is primarily an executive agency representing the interests of cargo handlers and shippers, nevertheless, the GSA’s drive, under Dr. Mbiah’s leadership, to introduce technical and service quality standards stands out like a beacon on the shores of troubled waters.

4. The Driver & Vehicles Licensing Authority

The DVLA wins the fourth spot in this year’s rankings primarily because of success in one major reform: the outsourcing of some of the vehicle assessment and testing processes to more efficient external garages, a development that has in no mean fashion eased the horrendous burden placed on motorists in this country in complying with our rickety road traffic regulations.

The current DVLA deserves to be acknowledged for taking this bold step after years of foot-dragging at the agency on outsourcing matters. A lot remains to be done to improve those functions that the agency still performs, such as license plate registration. Motorists cannot continue to be the butt of weak service standards.

But the successful outsourcing effort shows clearly what can be done when public sector activities are professionalised. The hope in highlighting this here is that other agencies, such as the Passport Office, will take note.

5. The Frontline Personnel of the Ghana National Fire Service (GNFS)

Despite persisting weaknesses in Ghana’s fire management system, frontline staff of the Ghana Fire Service continues to risk their lives daily to fight the infernos raging across Ghana in sharp succession.

With limited gear and equipment, personnel of the Ghana National Fire Service have increasingly shown a regimental discipline in taking on mighty blazes, all the more difficult to manage because of the tropical heat.

Unlike was the case some years ago, response times are almost within acceptable limits for a good proportion of incidents reported. Though GNFS’ personnel must still improvise all the time, diligent observers have recorded an impressive improvement in the tactical approach used by personnel in navigating cramped incident sites as well as in locating sources of water, including in some instances even using private water tankers during moments of desperation.

We believe that this recognition will prompt the management of the service to show a better appreciation of the agency’s human resources, including working harder to address deep and festering concerns such as the on-going tussle over plans to relocate the agency from the Interior Ministry to the Local Government Service.


IPSLA 2013

IMANI has for the last four years appraised Ministries, Departments and Agencies of Government (MDAs) with a view of ranking the best 5 MDAs and the worst 5 MDAs according to pre-defined criteria. That process has led to the annual release of IMANI’s Most Inspirational Public Sector Leadership Awards. The 2013 version will be published in next week.

For the year 2013, IMANI’s evaluation team decided to go a step further and also determine other important benchmarks of openness in order to ascertain whether these MDAs were open enough to warrant Ghana’s claim as the gateway to Africa. `

One of the major indicators to that effect has been web presence. Web presence in this direction determines how easy it is to get information about any MDA and its presence on the Internet. Current technological trends and the easy availability of Internet suggest that the first level of engagement any outfit with a service will have with prospective clients will be through the World Wide Web. This will be very easily evidenced by the presence of a website, or a link which will have a brief overview of an agency or ministry’s service profile.

Key Findings

Ministries without Website Presence:

35% of MDAs don’t have a website. A number of MDAs for which information sharing must be a critical component of day to day operations have no web presence, either via websites or social media platforms. Surprisingly, these include very crucial ministries such as the:

• The Ministry of Information
• The Ghana National Fire Service
• The Ministry of Justice and Attorney General

It is quite baffling therefore that the Ministry of Information and Media Relations which is charged with coordinating and disseminating information about the government’s programs has no official presence on online media platforms.

The ministry does not manage an official “Ministry of Information” website, nor does it manage a Facebook page. The only Facebook page identified for the ministry of information seems like an unofficial one and was last updated in 2010. According to the ASK team which responded to our e-mail enquiry about the Ghana Ministry of Information’s website, the http://www.ghana.gov.gh/ web page was given as the official Government of Ghana webpage, and therefore an extension of that of the Ministry.

This webpage however does not have associated social media accounts. In an era where over 1.6 million Ghanaians or 6.4% of the population and counting are on Facebook alone , this is unacceptable.

Other Government agencies with no websites or social media pages :

A) Ministry of Fisheries and Aquaculture Development
B) Ministry of Chieftaincy and Traditional Affairs
C) Ministry of Employment and Labour Relations
D) Ministry of Environment, Science, Technology and Innovation
E) Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources
F) Ministry of Water Resources, Works and Housing

This situation needs immediate remedy, but also in many ways demonstrates how certain key areas of governance require attention. The Ministry of Environment, Science, Technology and Innovation for example should have had some of the most important showcases related to Ghana’s rich unique environment as well as important information that could allow for investment opportunities, but has been neglected.

Ministries like those of Lands and Natural Resources, Employment and Labour Relations, Water Resources, Works and Housing should have had informative platforms as these sectors are seen as pivotal in the economic outlook and attention of the country.

Social Media Presence:

Out of the sample size, only 12.8% of MDAs have Facebook presence. This represents 6 out of the 47 MDAs evaluated.


IPSLA 2014

As we celebrate 10 years of informing people and influencing policies, our own reflection over the contribution of the public sector to Ghana’s development has been one of disappointment as we have witnessed the slowest public reform efforts over the last decade. This has become worse with the incredible amount of brazen scandals within some public institutions. In spite of the overwhelming crisis of confidence, some public institutions are struggling to live up to their mandate and values, hence the need to recognize and applaud them for providing leadership.

So here is our Top 5 Most Inspirational Public Sector Leadership Awardees for 2014:

1. National Health Insurance Authority (NHIA)

Established under the National Health Insurance Act 2003, Act 650, the NHIA has pursued its mandate with passion, save the one time cacophonous and disorderly promise by the current political office holders to make the NHIA survive on a one-time premium payment. With that spineless dream discarded, the NHIA moved on to make swift and effective changes to its operations through the introduction of the biometric health insurance cards in January 2014. Aside its staff working for extended periods of time to register as many persons from all walks of life especially children, the elderly and pregnant women. Public and some private institutions were specially catered for as the NHIA deployed mobile teams to ease congestion at certain registration centres.

Unlike other public agencies, the Authority has a functional website with its mandate and functions well spelt out. Electronic documents on the site are current and relevant. Information about their health providers, district offices and contacts (including call centers) are available as well. However, what the NHIA needs in order to sustain its operations is for piloting the process of taking off relatively well off clients who are able to afford private health care so it can focus resources on providing quality care of the many indigenes in society.

2. Environmental Protection Agency

The Ghana Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is a public agency set up under the EPA Act 490, 1994 with a mandate of formulating environmental policy and making recommendations for the protection of the environment. The EPA has had its fair share of battles with industry and their externalities. However, it has been able to achieve some appreciable measure of success in terms of monitoring environmental activities as well as extending some level of support to the private sector. For instance, the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST) in collaboration with the Technical University of Delft, the Netherlands, and Farmerline Limited-Ghana partnered with the EPA and other government agencies to undertake a project aimed at monitoring and collecting data on weather patterns to guide farming activities in Ghana’s cocoa growing areas. The project is to extend support to vegetable and cocoa farmers for effective food production, harvest forecasts, and water resource management..

The EPA has rolled out an energy conservation project. The project, which would be piloted in hotels and other manufacturing companies, would include the installation of energy saving bulbs, shadow sensors, energy saving key cards, biogas among other equipment that would reduce the cost of energy to between 30 to 40 per cent. The energy saved would in turn be put back on the national grid to benefit industries and reduce the load shedding in the country. Apart from this, the EPA is working closely with hotels in particular and other manufacturing companies to put waste generated by their businesses into a biogas system to help reduce their energy consumption. The EPA can do more. We would like to see it extend its operations to all hospitals, clinics and health posts in the country by working with the private sector to help dispose off biomedical waste in a safe and efficient manner.

3. Ghana Shippers Authority (GSA)

The GSA is living up to its official expectations to effectively manage the demand side of shipping with a view to protecting and promoting the interests of Ghanaian shippers, by employing innovation in its practice and initiatives to provide cutting edge shipper services that meet the dynamics of the maritime industry.

The GSA has over the years ensured that the Ghanaian shipper has real time, safe and reliable delivery of import and export cargoes by all modes of transport in the most cost – effective manner. The GSA has enhanced its competitive edge through its continual cooperation and collaboration with private sector organizations and advocacy firms to upgrade the knowledge of the shipping public and other industry – related players through workshops and seminars.

The GSA has played a significant role in the payment of competitive freight rates and other related ancillary charges through continued effective monitoring and negotiations. The GSA in its quest to ensure a level playing field for competition has instituted operational parameters under which providers and consumers of shipper services can operate.

The Authority has also initiated projects that are aimed at infrastructural expansions and upgrades to address developmental and technological changes in the maritime industry. The Authority has been effective in its pursuit of excellence in ensuring optimum deregulation and liberalization of shipping services in the country. However, the GSA could extend its finer leadership qualities to the leadership of the Ports, Harbours and Customs in order to rid itself of corruption. It is disheartening to hear that due to the many corrupt acts at our ports and harbours, clients in inland countries are diverting most of their cargo away from our ports to neighbouring Ivory Coast and Togo. Clearly the Presidential Task Force on checking corruption at the ports and harbours have done very little to help.

4. Registrar General’s Department

The mandate of the Registrar General’s Department (RGD) is to ensure an efficient and effective administration of entities inter-alia the registration of businesses, industrial property, marriages, administration of estates, and public trustees; to provide customer friendly services and accurate data for national planning. Testimonies from the private sector indicate are positive and indicates an improvement in the registration of businesses. Now delays associated with the registration of businesses have significantly reduced. This is partly attributed to the online registration on the agency’s website.

The RGD has also been instrumental in the campaign for the protection of intellectual protection rights. This year, they partnered with IP Network Ghana to stress the essence of IP rights and its implications for creativity and innovation. The RGD need to decentralize its operations through the setting up of mobile registration centres or employing an army of volunteers to register as many small and medium enterprises as can be covered. The formalization of businesses for SMEs will enhance their growth whilst earning tax revenue for the government.

5. Ghana Stock Exchange

The Ghana Stock Exchange (GSE)’s performance in a difficult 2014 was partially successful based on its impressive performance in 2013. For the first six months of 2013 recorded a very impressive performance as against the whole of 2012. From January to July 2013, the GSE Composite Index stood at 61.39 per cent, as against 6.06 per cent for the whole of 2012. The GSE Financial Stock Index equally stood at 61.66 per cent, as against 0.53 per cent for the entire 2012 total market capitalization for the period under review stood at GH¢55.78 billion as against GH¢54.95 billion in 2012 with domestic capitalization doubling from GH¢5.57 billion to GH¢10.57 billion. Total volume of trade was equally on the rise. At the close of business on July 31, total trade stood at 209.16 million as against 218.13 million, for the whole of 2012.

In terms of value, total trade at mid-2013 stood at GH¢230.51 million, as against GH¢102.2 million for the whole of 2012.Reviewing the market, Bloomberg and other international news wire service described the market as “best performing market in Sub-Saharan Africa”.

Listed companies also recorded significant price increases during the first half year. Out of the 34 companies, CAL Bank led the gainers with 194 per cent followed by Enterprise Group Ltd. with 191 per cent, Benso Oil Palm Plantation, 150 per cent, GCB, 134 per cent, and PZ Cussons Ghana, 122 per cent. Seven companies gained more than 50 per cent in their share price while eight companies gained above 10 per cent. Eleven companies maintained their prices with only four recording some level of depreciation.

Investor interest in the market soared with the massive performance of the bourse. This is evidenced in the fact that the number of equities changing hands increased by 161 per cent, compared to the previous period. Volume traded also exhibited a similar trend; hence growing by 435 per cent. The introduction of the Ghana Alternative Market (GAX) by the GSE has afforded some SME’s the opportunity to secure much needed longer term capital at a relatively lower cost allowing for future expansion, growth and greater ability to stand competition.

The Ghana Stock Exchange was established in July 1989 as a private company limited by guarantee under the Companies Code of 1963. It was given recognition as an authorized Stock Exchange under the Stock Exchange Act of 1971 (Act 384) in October 1990.



Keynote Address by Professor Stephen Adei At the 5th IMANI Inspirational Public Sector Leadership Awards

The Three Coordinates of National Development

Ladies and gentlemen let me state that the public sector is very strategic for national development. It embraces two of the coordinates of the development triangle and impacts greatly the third name. The three coordinates are National Governance; The State of Public goods and Services and the Private Sector.

Since a significant part of our media is paranoid, always looking for a slight against the Executive, Parliament and Politicians generally and lately the Judiciary; and given that today is a day for recognizing the positive achievement of Public Service institutions I will be extremely circumspect in commenting on the three arms of government, mindful of the threat of Parliamentary Privileges Committee even though I want to say loud and clear that no one has the privilege to be corrupt as a public office holder!

First I want to congratulate the Judicial Council for the surgical way they have responded to Anas’ revelations regarding judicial corruption. I want to challenge Parliament and the Executive to do the same within their institutions because the President and Speaker know that there is corruption in their set up. “The fish rots from the head”!! Also I want to appeal to the Judicial Council to ensure that a system is in place that reduces corruption to the minimum in the future because the Judges are a last resort. We need them to be just.

Second, I want to reiterate that we need all the three pillars of nation building to accelerate development.

The first pillar of governance framework is especially important for the actions and inactions of the three arms of Government and especially the Executive in coming up with a national vision, credible development agenda, mobilizing national resources and using them efficiently, creating enabling atmosphere for the others’ actions, and above all modelling the way-set the tone and pace.

That is why I hold Heads of State and their Ministers responsible for the slow pace of national development and the level of grand corruption in our country.

The literature is clear that the level of corruption for example depends on opportunity on the one hand and the probability of being caught, prosecuted and punished. Once the Executive of every country decides to tackle these variables, even though corruption may be as old as Adam, it reduces to a manageable level and national development is not unduly hampered as it is in Ghana today.

I believe that within one year, if a president wants a relatively transparent and clean country, he can get it though it will take longer to institutionalise the measures to that end. It is a matter of political will. In Ghana it is in the power of the President to separate the Attorney General’s office from the Ministry of Justice and make it autonomous; it is in his power to create an independent anti-corruption agency with prosecuting powers; he can declare his assets publicly and insist that his ministers do the same; we can change the law to allow investigation of any of us having a lifestyle not supported by our income; we can give amnesty for those who give bribe so they can report corrupt officials and not the current situation of criminalizing the giver and the receiver.

And that can be done, not as a legal or constitutional requirement, but as a moral duty. And that should apply to all top level public officials whether they are Chief Directors, MDs of public corporations or Executive Chairmen. The fight against corruption must move to a higher level. Yes we can! Anybody with all the constitutional powers of the President of Ghana cannot say he is doing his level best with the level of perceived corruption today. And let’s be clear, corruption in Ghana is more than a perception.

With all the evidence we have from “Anas-ology”, Auditor General’s Reports, Presidential Commissions and the daily encounter of ordinary Ghanaians, the perception is backed by reality. If we do not do the honourable thing to halt corruption for a better Ghana, we will be judged by posterity adversely.

The importance of Government especially the Executive here lies in the

  1. Power of policy
  2. Power of modelling
  3. Power of the enormous resources they control even in a highly indebted Middle Country – HIMID

That is why even on my death bed I will be saying “leadership is cause; everything else is effect”.

The second pillar, and one which is closely allied to the first, is the institutions responsible for the delivery of public goods. The actions or inactions of them impact greatly the pace of national development. I am talking about the traditional public service viz the civil servants and those who deliver public goods and services (Harbors, VRA, ECG, Roads and Highway, GNPC and what have you). The importance of Public Servants lies not only in advising on policy but in implementing policies and programs. That cannot be overestimated. They are the second pillar of the development triangle. An efficient, clean and principle-based Public Service is indispensable for effective governance and national development. If anyone still wants a proof after three years of “DUMSOR”, for example, and its devastating impact, the one must be from Mars or living on Robinson Crusoe’s Island.

Public services are important in their right as producers of public goods and services. But they also catalyze the third pillar namely Private Sector which I will not comment upon today because of the tyranny of time. Moreover our emphasis today is on the Public Sector.

The State of Ghana’s Public Sector

In that regard I want to state that much of the Public Services of Ghana today leave a lot to be desired be it:

  • delivery of health service
  • delivery of education service
  • delivery of power/energy (and I hear this week will see the end of dumsor)
  • delivery of trade and industry support services
  • and the list goes on

We all experience these services daily. I took a family member to access health care recently. I confidently pulled her NHIS card only to be advised by the lady at the counter “Prof, if you want good and quick service put it back” which I did and paid the GHS 50 consulting fee for love’s sake ha!ha!!

It is in that light that we must celebrate institutions that are making good effort to service the Ghanaian public and to examine how “Smart Governance” principles can help make a better public sector for our common good.

SMART Governance

Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen, the little research I did about SMART Governance places that in the realm of promoting efficiency generally, to increasing transparency, oversight and accountability to ensure that customers receive quality public services and that cost effectively. The OECD countries such as UK, USA, Canada, and Europe are heavy on this drive. At the core of that drive is electronic or e-governance whereby ICT is applied to deliver government services, exchange information transactions and integrate systems and exchanges among government departments, between the government and its employees, among government employees, between government and business houses and especially delivering same as to the wider, the customers, the citizens with the aim of making government services available to clients in a convenient, efficient and transparent manner. That is the essence of SMART Governance.

In those countries, e-governance is facilitating mobile working whereby through the use of ICT people work at different locations including from their home. That allows doing more efficient work from remote locations.

Visiting the internet which is where every smart guy starts in writing a paper or speech I found the following statements which sums up what SMART Governance is all about and I quote,

“It’s about using technology to facilitate and support better planning and decision making, it is improving democratic processes and transforming the way that public services are delivered”.

“SMART Governance is about the future of public services, it’s about greater efficiency, community leadership, mobile working and continuous improvement through innovation”

Weak e-governance was part of the pink sheet debacle at the last elections though I think there was a deliberate agenda to deliver a less credible election outcome. For example not allowing teachers to be electoral officers in favor of people who could hardly do arithmetic compounded things. A major factor in the celebrated Nigerian election was the quality of the temporary staff they used including Vice Chancellors. Our EC can do better.

In India, Australia and other OECD countries SMART Governance principles are leading to highly improved services to citizens from the registry of births to issue of passports; from land registry to scheduled maintenance of public buildings.

One must add that even in these countries SMART Governance encounters administrative, technological, financial, and other challenges. It should therefore no not be seen as a panacea. After all “GIGO” – “Garbage In, Garbage Out”. The competence, integrity, discipline and leadership of public services are poor make SMART Governance SMART.

The application of global SMART Governance Principles i.e. using ICT and innovation to improve transparency, competence, accountability, etc. will no doubt improve our democratic process and efficiency in developing public goods and services. In increasing number of countries, basic services can now be assessed by the citizenry online. It is faster, cheaper and reduces corruption because physical contacts are reduced to the barest minimum.

An important impact of SMART governance worth noting is the sensitivity it brings to the use of public money. The public sector becomes much more aware of the scrutiny that comes with the use of the taxpayers’ money. The general public, through the media and political representatives regularly assess the performance of the institutions vis-à-vis the amount of money allocated to them. It is therefore very common for public officials to resign or be sacked for poor performances or misuse of resources in those countries high on SMART Governance.

Ghana’s public sector is significantly lagging in many respects as regards the principles of ‘SMART governance’. Some ministries and departments can however be seen to be already adopting a good number of these principles. An example of this is the ‘Meet the Press’ series by the various ministries designed to update the public on their activities as well as answer pertinent questions related to their ministry. Beyond this, some institutions have identified social media as an effective tool to breach the gap between their institutions and the public. Hon. Hannah Tetteh, is well noted for her significant presence on twitter where she regularly takes feedback from Ghanaians as well as relay information in real time. This was very useful during the recent unfortunate xenophobic attacks in South Africa. She used her account to inform the public of measures her outfit was taking.

Another commendable feat, as far as transparency and communication are concerned, is the fully functional and informative websites some of the agencies are running. Response to enquiries by email or telephone is much faster and extensive than as pertained before.

These improvements notwithstanding, many areas of smart governance have been stagnant or deteriorating in Ghana’s public sector. One of such areas is accountability. This point is underscored by the many scandals that are exposed by the media but do not gain traction with the political establishment. The difficulty of our sports authorities to effectively account for the use of state finances during the 2014 world cup debacle is one that is symptomatic of poor governance. The Auditor-General’s report is riddled with an avalanche of expenditure that cannot be effectively accounted for by the institutions. In some cases, it’s a case of poor record keeping. But in most cases, it is plain thievery. One of the bedrocks of smart governance is accountability, and this means institutions should be in the position to account for every single cedi of the taxpayer’s money that is spent. The various scandals that have bogged various state institutions are evident of a culture of milking the country dry sometimes through ‘legitimate’ contracts that favor a few individuals or companies at the expense of the country. The furor over the infamous youth employment, telecom related and national service contracts are clear examples.

In the 2015 report by Transparency International, 76% of citizens in Ghana perceived corruption in the public sector to have risen in the last 12 months. In recent times, corruption seems to be uncovered more and more. Is the perception the result that we are doing better in unearthing corrupt deeds? I think on the contrary the corruption in the public domain were so glaring no one could hide them. In September 2015, when Anas uncovered that some judges were taking bribes, it was not because suddenly the state was being proactive in the fight against corruption since we have done very little about Anas’ work in the past. Rather Anas took a step further to appeal to Judicial Council and much of the actions did not involve the Government or the Attorney General’s department whose record in dealing with previous discoveries have been poor. It is the Judicial Service’s actions that brought the offending judges to book.

It’s worth noting that whilst some have come to accept corruption as typical of developing African countries, there are numerous examples on the continent of countries willing to attack this canker head on. One of such examples is in Rwanda, where corruption is highly sanctioned and offenders have their names and their parents’ names put on a national database. The recent developments in Nigeria also hold great promise though it is early to open the champagne.

Given the large size of Ghana’s public sector and the important role it plays in the economy, it is even more imperative for citizens to demand efficient delivery of services and proper utilization of the nation’s resource. The Ibrahim Index of African Governance scored Ghana’s governance as 67.3 out of 100 in 2014, raking it the 7th best in Africa. While this is relatively good, it is a drop of 0.4 in the score for Ghana since 2014, meaning that Ghana’s governance is moving in a less desirable direction. We must take steps in reforming the public sector to reverse the trend. And we must do so in a way in a way it yields positive results and not like the Single Spine structure which has raised more questions than answers.

In 2006, the Single Spine Salary structure was introduced as a measure to address the imbalances in the pay system in the public sector. However, despite measures focused on correcting the salary imbalances it resulted in ballooning of the wage bill with no noticeable productivity and efficiency gains. The government today spends a significant amount on public sector salaries. In 2008, the public sector wage bill was 11.3% of GDP (which accounted for 40% of recurrent budget) much higher than the 6.2% ratio of public service wage bill to GDP in all West African countries. Similarly, in 2013, 60% of national revenue went towards paying the salaries of public servants. We must get value for that level of expenditure and not as it is today whereby productivity enhancement is an afterthought of wage increase.

Challenges to Effective SMART Governance in Ghana

But we cannot ignore the challenges the public sector faces that greatly impinge on its performances. In order for us to apply the principles of SMART Governance in Ghana we must however acknowledge some of the constraint that public sector of Ghana still faces. For example, ICT facilitated innovations are challenged by weak ICT backbone, DUMSOR and lack of political will when it comes to insisting on transparency, accountability and integrity in public life. Sad to say, we also have a culture of mediocrity and lack of commitment to “aban adwuma” – state business.

Inadequate funding is another major problem. Various ministries have seen a fall in their budgetary allocations, affecting the capacity to deliver their work. Another challenge that exists in the public sector is a lack of clear objectives for some institutions, which eventually leads to waste of resources and/or duplication of mandates. This lack of clearly stated benchmarks affect productivity and raises a challenge in evaluating and measuring performance. Sometimes defective managerial competence exists as a result of political patronage especially when appointments are made without recourse to the expertise needed by the organization especially at the governance level. Linked to this imbalance of expertise is the dual problem of overstaffing, especially at the junior level, which leads to a drain on resources and understaffing of quality personnel in senior and professional grades partly caused by brain drain.

Some Broader Measures to Improve the Public Sector in Ghana

Thus SMART governance in Ghana should not be restricted to ICT driven measures but to include broader and more traditional methods of improving public sector efficiency, reduce corruption and increase trust in public services. That will require strong leadership at the highest political level and of the public service institutions themselves as well effective policies, legislation and administrative measure.

A few specific measures which can improve public sector delivery of services in a short time would include the following:

  1. Much of the administrative processes are too long and elaborate. For example while it requires 4 steps to clear a good at Walvis Bay in Namibia, it takes 52 steps in Tema, the last time I checked. We can reduce our steps 90% without loss of revenue. On the contrary reduce corruption at the ports of entry.
  2. There is practically no time limit for the deliver any service in Ghana from issue of passport to land registration. This must change.
  3. Watchdog institutions, are de facto not independent, are under-funded, politicized and except police and BNI, have no prosecuting powers/measures. The trend must be reversed.
  4. Complaints of poor service delivery, even corruption are not followed through and culprits punished. Only autonomous, independent and well-funded watchdog agencies will make a difference.
  5. When “whom you know” and increasingly which party card you hold and even tribe you belong becomes a factor in accessing pubic services the country is on dangerous track. We must “drop that yam”. Neutrality, independence, efficiency, and transparency are hallmarks of great Public Services.
  6. The hustles a manager of a public services leader goes through in undertaking reform in Ghana is hardly worth it. I know that very well. We must support reforming Public Service Leadership and not undercut them.

I think that we need ICT facilitated processes as part of the solution in delivering good public goods and services, but in Ghana the broader, classical view of SMART Governance must be applied to public sector reform:

  • Simplified processes, forms etc.
  • Measurable outcomes which are of course not utopian but
  • Accountable and Realistic and above all
  • Time bound delivery of services.
  • As well as e-governance.

Our innovation must be broader and smarter. Why should all go to work at 8 am? I have found that it takes me 2 hours to get to Accra Central from where I live if I set off between 6.15 am and 8am and only 1 hour if I set off at 8.15am. Can we introduce a simple thing as flexible working hours before we come to mobile work on a wide scale?

We can however leap frog in some areas and there are areas we can go for SMART Governance in the sense of using ICT to facilitate improvements in transparency, competence, accountability and even our checkered democratic processes. This is where the Anglicans have gotten it right- their hymnal is called “Ancient and Modern”. Some of us despite our cemetery flowers manage with Android powered systems from every location but will still make spot checks following Reagan’s dictum- “Trust but verify”.

To further progress, we need to have regular monitoring and evaluation of the performance of all projects and of all public sector departments.

In conclusion, Ladies and Gentlemen reform of the public sector is important for a number of reasons. Reform leads to improved efficiency and value for money and thus improved service delivery, leadership and professionalism. By aiming for SMART Governance as integral part of public sector reform, we are aiming for transparency, communication, and the adoption of innovative and technologically advanced modes of operation. With these solutions, we can cut down on corruption, bridge the gap between institutions and the public, cut down on excessive bureaucracy, and match wages with productivity.

With these remarks, let me salute the award winners today. These gallant institutions and people have forded erratic power supply, corruption and limited resources to shine in their corner. In wishing you success I pray that you will not rest on your oars but seek continuous innovations to deliver better service to our people. You are the linchpin of a better Ghana.

I thank you all for your attention


Welcome Address by Franklin Cudjoe, Founding President of IMANI Given At the 5th IMANI Inspirational Public Sector Leadership Awards yesterday on December 16, 2015

His Excellency, the Chief of Staff, Mr. Julius Debrah, Minister of State for Public Sector Reforms, Hon. Alhassan Azong, Togbe Afede XIV, Ambassadors and representatives of Denmark, Australia, Switzerland, France, India, the UK, Canada, South Africa and Colombia heads of major bilateral and multilateral donor agencies, civil society, media and business leader, our distinguished keynote speaker, chairman and board members, management and staff of IMANI and all of you distinguished ladies and gentlemen a very good evening to you all and welcome to IMANI’s 5th Public Sector Leadership Awards ceremony.

It is every government’s desire to transform the economy from the state it found it to the next higher level. For example in the case of Ghana, the current government’s development agenda is to transform our lower middle income status to an upper middle income in the medium to long term.

However the disproportionate balance between politics and policy with the former dominant at almost all levels of government means the speed with which such transformation must occur will be dramatically and frighteningly slow and more likely to deter our progress towards the upper middle income objective. A recurring chorus in Ghana is that the country remains too susceptible to price cycles of specific raw materials on the international economy. Sadly this chorus is hundred years old and has lived with colonial and all modern governments.

What is more worrying is that many tend to think that manufacturing or industrialization alone will diversify the economy away from this over-dependence on a few commodities and still provide jobs beyond the imports-fueled informal retail and services sector. No! For this seismic shift to happen, we will need to see growth in overall national capacity and that national capacity must be anchored on a public sector with a strong attitude to reform and without the long invisible but debilitating arm of politics.

When my colleagues at IMANI embarked on this national project five years ago, all we wanted to do was contribute our quota to the public sector reform process and reform effort. We thought naturally that even though in competitive national politics all governments do what they can to stay in power and that offering praise to any agent or bureaucracy of any government meant joining the list of praise singers.

We were soon to realise that in fact, offering rare praise was useful, first as a motivator and second as a means to furthering the discourse on good governance. Hence we came up with a simple methodology hinged on three vital pillars of transparent and accountable governance to assess public sector performance. These were Public Engagement, Independence and the Promise of Transformation of public institutions assessed.

Since 2010, my colleagues at IMANI have independently conducted the assessment that culminated in what is today called the Inspirational Public Sector Leadership Awards. However this year, we changed the process of validating our independent findings. We invited 45 MDAs whose representatives joined us on November 5th 2015 in a workshop, to provide the required information and validate the data IMANI had used in its analysis. This was crucial in order to provide an award system that was balanced and devoid of any subjectivity or bias. So, I can confidently say the 5 winners of this year’s awards have been more rigorously scrutinized.

We usually do acknowledge 5 less inspirational public sector leaders, but this evening’s programme is to celebrate the winners and later make recommendations that we believe will boost the morale of the 5 less blessed in a detailed publication. A member of my team will in the course if the evening explain in depth Imani’s criteria for the selection of awardees. We are very grateful for the leadership of all MDAs for availing themselves or their representatives to help in this important exercise.

It is important to acknowledge the modest gains the government under the able leadership of the Minister of State for Public Sector Reform, Hon. Alhassan Azong is making to strengthen public sector reforms. A public sector reform strategy document for 2016-2020 has been concluded and so far there are 17 of these ongoing reforms. I can speak to two of such reforms I personally have been part of which are gradually meeting their objectives. These are the Subvented Agencies Reform and Pensions Reform.

The Committee on subvented agencies which I belong to as the only civil society representative has made capable and acceptable recommendations for weaning off a number of state agencies from the public purse because their immediate and future business plans show they can sustain themselves and even pay government some dividends. It is important to know that the near success of this committee is encouraging some public agencies that hitherto were not on our list to lobby to be taken off the public payroll.

The CEO of the Fair Wages and some members of the committee are with us this evening and they deserve praise. IMANI also forced through its allies in the legal fraternity to successfully negotiate with the government the administrative structures for handling tier two pensions for public sector workers such that government’s earlier attempt at forcefully controlling pensions was relegated.

Considering how emotive the issue of pensions had been I believe this development is better for us to build on. I am hopeful that the National Pensions Regulatory Authority will be making this positive development public sooner.

Having said the above, I cannot speak of the same level of success for the remaining reforms such as in public financial management reforms, Energy Sector reform and public-private partnership initiatives to mention a few, not because I am unaware of aggressive efforts being pursued. The efforts are right but they seem to be quite heavy on politics than policy hence stalling the reform agenda.

For instance it will be in the interest of the government and Ghana to consider critical commentary that have been made on energy projects such as Ameri power and ensure that the biggest one to come, the $7bn Eni project is equally devoid of suspicion. Most importantly, government should publish all these contracts so we can all make positive contributions and remove the elements of surprise.

It makes no good reading suspicions in the international media about your country’s energy deals when we can avoid them altogether by first accounting to us locally. Government should make us prouder defending them internationally by giving us the tools of non-negotiable transparency.

I believe Minister Alhassan Azong will give us an update on other public sector reforms when he speaks to us shortly. Very shortly however, our keynote speaker Professor Stephen Adei will speak to the theme “Smart Governance: Key Principles for a Better Public Sector”.

But the crucial question remains: after these awards what next? How should all public institutions, including those who will be acknowledged tonight rise to the occasion of the theme for this year’s awards?

I will submit that it is important we all realize as public sector experts Diana Farrell and Andrew Goodman have noted that “In a world characterized by macroeconomic uncertainty, rapid social change, and technological innovation, citizens’ expectations of what government ought to deliver are rising. On the other hand, governments are hampered by unsustainable debt burdens and shrinking budgets.

This means for governments to be efficient and effective, they must be ready to inspire public sector leaders to favor the rational and the analytical over the purely ideological, and to be willing to abandon tools and techniques that no longer work.

Four principles are therefore needed: the use of better evidence for decision making, greater engagement and empowerment of citizens, thoughtful investments in expertise and skill building, and closer collaboration with the private and social sectors. Each of these principles is central to creating more effective yet affordable public sector service delivery.

Let me conclude by specially mentioning the Danish government and particularly its development agency, DANIDA for supporting us in undertaking this exercise as part of its contribution to the reform effort in deepening public accountability in Ghana. The Danish Ambassador, Her Excellency Toove Degnbol is with us here today and we are grateful to her, her country and the local staff of DANIDA.

Ladies and gentlemen, please relax and enjoy the rest of this evening’s programme. Thank you all for coming.


  1. https://www.modernghana.com/news/309232/imanis-list-of-2010s-most-inspirational-public.html
  2. https://www.modernghana.com/news/462183/imani-names-top-5-public-sector-leaders-for-2012.html
  3. https://www.modernghana.com/news/522245/imani-2013-internet-presence-rankings-of-governmen.html
  4. https://www.modernghana.com/news/590302/imanis-2014-best-and-worst-public-sector-leaders.html
  5. https://www.modernghana.com/news/662468/keynote-address-by-professor-stephen-adei-at-the.html
  6. https://www.modernghana.com/news/662467/welcome-address-by-franklin-cudjoe-founding-presi.html
  7. https://www.modernghana.com/news/745299/speech-by-tove-degnbol-danish-ambassador-to-ghana.html


Watch this space for more IPSLA Content in the coming weeks. 


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