By: Paul Ndiho
Ghanaians are voting n neck-and-neck presidential and parliamentary elections. Two candidates dominate the race – President John Mahama, who is seeking a second term in office. And, his main rival, Nana Akufo-Addo, a veteran politician and businessman.
High unemployment, and corruption scandals have beset mahama’s presidency, but he has urged Ghanaians to re-elect him. But Akufo-Addo believes he has the business acumen to turn the economy around. But for one small business owner in accra, the stakes could not be higher.
Incumbent President John Mahama is running for a second and final four-year term in office under a National Democratic Congress (NDC) ticket. He has made proposals to boost industry, energy, infrastructure, health and education.
His main opponent, Nana Akufo-Addo and his New Patriotic Party criticizes Mahama for squandering the wealth the country has amassed since it began producing oil in 2010 and being out of touch with the people.
Akufo-Addo promises to give every constituency the equivalent of $1 million a year to alleviate poverty by installing basic services such as electricity, running water and sanitation.
Mabel Simpson is an accessories designer and entrepreneur working in Accra. She resigned her office job in 2010 to launch her own clothing label in mSimpson. Since then, she has created quite a buzz on the Ghanaian fashion scene.
“I feel like Ghana needs a leader who is going to fight corruption, who is going to bring jobs especially for young people and who is also going to make sure that the manufacturing industry in Ghana is doing very well.”
Simpson’s fascination with fashion- and love for raw African prints started when she was a young girl. She now competes with some of the biggest names in the African fashion industry.
Today, her design label – Msimps sells products in a store in Accra and online for clients making orders from all over the world.
“I feel like Ghana needs a leader who is going to fight corruption, who is going to bring jobs especially for the young people. It’s just not going to be, he is saying it but then he acts on it also. They would keep the promises they made to Ghanaians, so that people would be proud of Ghana.”
Ghana exports gold, oil and cocoa but has suffered from a slump in global commodity prices and macro-economic instability in the form of inflation that stood at 15.8 percent last month, an elevated budget deficit and high unemployment.
“We need to cut down on imports and rather concentrate more on exports so that we can grow the economy. So whichever leader that I feel is going to actually going to implement these policies. I think that leader is going to have my vote.”
She says she wants Ghana to invest more in manufacturing and export of “Made in Ghana” products and to provide more support for entrepreneurs as a way of dealing with unemployment and boosting the economy.
“I’m also looking for a leader who is going to make sure that young start-ups or entrepreneurs have some tax rebates so that we can grow the economy and employ more people.”
Fashion experts say the industry has tremendous potential to meet the growing demand for high-end products in the global market- including Africa’s growing middle class. Simpson says that young African designers can play a significant role on the continent through entrepreneurship.
As the mSimps label becomes more popular and expands, other young African designers are also looking forward to expressing their creativity in the marketplace.