News of a Sedgwick County Commissioner’s trip to Africa has raised some controversy, and something like this has been tried before.
The Wichita Eagle reported this regarding Sedgwick County Commissioner Lacy Cruse’s visit to the West Africa country Ghana: “She said she focused her efforts on economic opportunities related to aviation and education. She said she talked to Ghana’s minister of aviation about potentially establishing an aviation school and setting up an aviation maintenance shop at the Tamale International Airport in Ghana. She didn’t make any formal deals on behalf of the county or any local companies. She said forming a trade relationship with Ghana isn’t something that can happen overnight.” 1
Something like this has been tried before, and not too long ago. In 2011, Wichita Mayor Carl Brewer and a delegation traveled to Ghana on a trade mission, seeking business opportunities for Wichita companies. The aircraft industry was prominently mentioned.
The host country, however, may have misunderstood the mission of the visitors from Wichita. A news release on the Official Portal of the Government of Ghana published after the visit included this: “[District Chief Executive (DCE) of Lower Manya Krobo District, Mr Isaac Abgo Tetteh] announced that the Mayor has pledged to furnish Nene Sakitey II with an Aircraft for his private use.” 2
I had thought that perhaps this promise of an airplane to the overlord was a case of something being lost or mangled in translation, but then I realized that English is the official language of Ghana.
There was a follow-up visit in 2014. The Wichita Eagle reported the goals of then-Mayor Brewer: “Brewer’s particular interest on the trip is building business relationships overseas that could lead to opportunities for small and midsize aviation businesses in Wichita.” 3
The trips weren’t very successful in stimulating aviation exports. With the exception of 2011, the Census Bureau reports little in the way of aviation-related exports to Ghana. The data includes the entire State of Kansas.
- Swaim, Chance. Commissioner Lacey Cruse’s trip to Africa raises concerns from other commissioners. Wichita Eagle, February 9, 2020. Available at https://www.kansas.com/news/politics-government/article239797448.html. ↩
- Government of Ghana Official Portal. Wichita City to Partner Manya Krobo For Development. November 25, 2011. “An unprecedented visit by the Mayor of Wichita City, Kansas State USA, Mr Carl Brewer, his Deputy, Mrs Lavonta Williams and the Council of Elders were welcomed by the overlord of Manya Krobo Traditional Area, Nene Sakitey II at the Palace. At a grand durbar organised in honour of the Mayor and his delegation, the District Chief Executive (DCE) of Lower Manya Krobo District, Mr Isaac Abgo Tetteh, urged the people of Manya Krobo to set an initiative in order to get a push from the Mayor for the realisation of the sister city project by the city of Wichita and the Manya Krobo municipality. Mr Tetteh also announced at the gathering that, the sister city concept is to assist Lower Manya to attain the standard of a city by helping in the direction of education and other infrastructural development. He announced that the Mayor has pledged to furnish Nene Sakitey II with an Aircraft for his private use.” Image available here. ↩
- City Council members plan trip to Africa. Wichita Eagle, September 16, 2014. Available at https://www.kansas.com/news/politics-government/article2127093.html. ↩
Sounds like a boondoggle to me!
Sounds like this is extremely unprofitable for Wichita.