A member of the Made-in-Ghana Campaign Committee, Nana Akrasi Sarpong, has said that the quality of Ghanaian products which are comparatively inferior to foreign goods, would improve if Ghanaians patronized them.
Efforts to promote made-in-Ghana goods by the inter-ministerial and inter-agency committee inaugurated by government in December 2014, are often met with the opposing argument that the quality of most locally-manufactured goods does not match the quality of foreign goods.
However Mr Akrasi Sarpong who is the Acting Director of Communications and Public Affairs at the Ministry of Trade and Industry, said during an interaction between the Committee and the Institute of Financial and Economic Journalists (IFEJ), that if Ghanaians hearkened to the campaign and patronized local goods, the sustenance of local enterprises would drive improvement in quality.
According to some officials of the 17-member committee, there have been instances where indigenous companies made modest investments into improving the quality of their products, but made losses or failed to make any gains because of low patronage.
The committee has since its establishment prepared a draft policy to promote local goods, which is before cabinet. It has also through a competitive process, adopted a made-in-Ghana logo and employed advertising messages to sensitize the public.
Dr Ekow Spio-Garbrah, the Minister of Trade and Industry, also said that beyond the usual certification granted to products, the logo will be the preserve of premium quality locally-produced goods that pass further assessment by the Ghana Standards Authority.
According to the Minister, these steps being taken are new to the age-old quest to promote made-in-Ghana goods.
Nana Akrasi Sarpong added that the committee was “guided by previous experience” as several attempts to promote made-in-Ghana goods did not really succeed due to the absence of a clear cut policy.
“We’ve taken a cue from the past and because we want to succeed we’ve come out with this draft policy which has been sent to cabinet,” he said.
Among other things, the policy would seek to maximize local content in procurement by state authorities and avoid instances such as the procurement of Chinese furniture for Ghana’s parliament in late 2014 and later for the parliamentarians’ Job 600 building in mid-2015.
Dr Spio-Garbrah revealed that public procurement in accordance with the policy will be spearheaded by the amalgamation of two dormant state agencies – the Ghana Supply Commission and the Ghana National Procurement Authority.
As Ghana struggles to control the unbridled taste for foreign goods and improve local job creation, officials say that Ghana as a member of the World Trade Organization cannot simply take the extreme step of banning imports into the country, hence the promotion of local goods which is allowed under international trade.
The Minister said Ghanaians can learn from the Japanese, who in the past allowed the importation of American rice but made up their minds to leave a lot of American rice sitting at the docks of Yokohama.
“We’re asking Ghanaians to make up their minds – that we shall eat the things that we produce and we shall consciously look elsewhere to those things that are imported for which we have adequate substitutes,” he said.
He encouraged Ghanaians not to be hindered by issues of price and quality, as patronage of local goods will provide jobs to the people’s own benefit, noting that it is only by patronizing the early cars of Kantanka which might not fully meet expectations, that such a company can grow to deliver.
By Emmanuel Odonkor