The United Nations Industrial Development Organisation (UNIDO) and the Ministry of Trade and Industry, on Thursday marked 10 years of trade cooperation that has laid the foundation for quality infrastructure development for Ghana.
The Government of Switzerland funded the infrastructure development through the State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO).
Dubbed: “The UNIDO Trade Capacity Building Programme,” the cooperation has also led to the development of numerous standards for the wood, fish, cocoa and fruit industries in Ghana.
Under the cooperation, national institutions such as the Ghana Standards Authority, Food and Drugs Authority, Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR)-Forestry Research Institute, CSIR-Soil Research Institute, Forestry Commission-Timber Industry Development Division, and the CCOBOD-Quality Control Company, have had their capacities built in the inspectorate and testing departments.
These have institutionalised consumer protection and quality measures.
An export market hub, being hosted by the Ghana Export Promotion Authority (GEPA), has also been developed while several enterprises have been supported within the private sector to implement quality management standards.
Mr Robert Ahomka-Lindsay, the Deputy Minister of Trade and Industry, commended the Swiss Government for partnering Ghana over the past 10 years to improve upon her trade capacities, standardisation and quality infrastructure to enable Ghanaian businesses to be competitive in the global market.
Speaking on the theme: “Challenges of Trade and Industrialization in Ghana,” Mr Lindsay said some of the main challenges facing the industrial sector were inadequate skilled labour to man the industries and the low supply of raw materials.
“In some cases, the industrial plants are there but because there are no materials to feed them, the machines just lie there idle or are producing below their installed capacity. Examples can be sited as in our Komenda Sugar Factory, the Pawlugu Tomato Factory and the likes.
“There is also the problem of lack of enough infrastructural facilities such as good road networks, railways, constant water supply and electricity or energy etc. There was the issue of quality and applying standards in the manufacturing industries.
“Besides, most entrepreneurs lack the necessary quality culture hence in their production activities, issues of quality only come to them at the end of production when it is too late,” he said.
Mr Lindsay, therefore, expressed happiness that UNIDO, through the Trade Capacity Building programme, had helped Ghana to gradually realise its plan of building a strong industrialisation sector.
He said industry was at the centre of government plans to transform the economy from one reliant on its resource base to one driven by value-added exports.
Therefore, the Government had announced a number of short and long term policies designed to support the industrial transformation agenda and expand production.
In the short-term, government plans to help distressed companies with a stimulus package from the National Budget as part of a wider 10-point programme of reform known as the Industrial Transformation Agenda.
The strategy seeks to decentralise industrial growth through the One District One Factory programme, diversification through the development of strategic anchor industries, the rollout of industrial parks, regulatory reforms to improve the business environment, and support for small and medium-sized enterprises among others as part of the long-term projects.
He said the government would continue to partner its development partners to continue with the upgrading of Ghana’s National Quality Infrastructure as well as effectively train professionals who were manning such institutions and systems.
Mr Markus Dutly, the Swiss Ambassador, said the support to Ghana was intended to help build the SME sector to make them more competitive in international market.
Mr Victor Mills, the UNIDO-TCB Programme Coordinator, expressed satisfaction that through the programme, “we have helped to implement a national quality system to provide world class conformity assessment services and improved export competitiveness for the wood, cocoa, fish and fruits value-chains.
Mr Juan Pablo Davila, the Project Manager to the TCB-Programme, announced that UNIDO and SECO have developed a programmatic approach to addressing sustainable and quality standards in SECO priority countries, including Ghana.