I hope this letter reaches you and finds you well. Apologies for using the open space to reach you. Thank God for social media.
Let me start off by congratulating you and thanking you as well for the leadership you have shown Ghanaians over the last several years in creativity and Innovation. I particularly would like to commend you on the launch of the Kantanka series of SUVs made in Ghana. I hope that my brothers and sisters in Ghana and beyond will purchase your vehicles which have been successfully tested on the roads of Ghana.
Unlike the motion controlled television sets and the battery operated cars which you designed and built which did not find acceptance on the local market, I hope the SUVs do not meet the same fate.
I have read in a lot of places that the problem with creativity in Africa is that African Governments do not support home grown innovations. This may indeed be true. But that is not why I am writing to you today.
I am writing to you Osofo, that the problem may not lie with Governments alone but also with the nature of the market, the products developed and the understanding of the nature of innovations. You see Osofo innovative products diffuse best if they solve social, technological, environmental or economic problems and are able to find acceptance and most importantly demand within society.
Osofo here is what I think is a description of the Ghanaian (and to a large extent) the African consumer behaviour in the car industry. The average person (the majority) travel get buy on rackety taxis served by imported used cars. The not so average (I dare say below average and poorer) get by in mini-buses also imported and used from abroad. The tro-tros (Ghana), Matatus (Kenya), dollar-dollar (Namibia), Woro-woro/Gbaka (Cote d’Ivoire) to mention a few, are in some cases death traps in themselves. Not to mention the environmental pollution that they cause. The above average, so-called middle and upper classes (and public officials) who buy the SUVs do not buy them because they need them. In fact most of them never travel outside the big cities where the roads are good. They buy them because it is a status symbol. They buy them to show off. My worry is, Osofo, that I don’t see these guys buying brand-new Kantanka SUVs if they can buy the used Audis, Mercedes, Pajeros, Volvos and Landcruisers. I wish we were that patriotic. But unfortunately we are not. I am afraid that you may sell a few in Ghana to the government agencies (I understand one of the Presidential aspirants has promised to buy them for his campaign). But this may not be worth the your creative efforts.
Scientists and Engineers always do what is possible. Innovators do what is needed
My advise, my dear Osofo, knowing how good you are and the passion you put into developing these innovative products, is to design and manufacture cars for the masses. The average and the not so average. Hopefully at a much lower cost than the imported used cars and buses for Taxis and Tro-tros. You will not only be helping solving social and economic problem facing our country and continent, but you will also be saving millions of lungs from the carbon monoxide we breath in from the used imported cars. If you do that many of us would be your foot-soldiers to get our people to buy your cars.
Once again I congratulate you for the great job for country and continent.
With warm regards,
Kwabena Ahenkan Ofosu