The Government on Thursday reaffirmed its commitment to make Ghana a major trade transit hub in the West African sub-region and all efforts will be made to actualise this objective.
Mr Kweku Ofori Asiamah, Minister of Transport said transport played a crucial role in trade facilitation, social development and growth of national and regional economies.
“For this reason, reducing cost, delays and removing all unnecessary obstacles within the transport corridors within our sub-region will not only make trading more competitive and accessible, but will also bring about development,” Mr Asiamah stated in Accra.
Mr Asiamah whose speech was read on his behalf at the opening of the Eighth Borderless Alliance Africa Conference said the Government had undertaken a number of reforms aimed at improving the business environment through various initiatives such as the implementation of the “Paperless System” at the nation’s ports.
The three-day meeting on the theme, “Facilitating Intra-Regional Trade in West Africa: Emerging Trends” is being hosted by the Ghana Shippers Authority (GSA).
The Borderless Alliance is a private association established in 2011 with the objective to catalyse the efforts of the West African private sector and its partners to offer and promote concrete improvements to free movement of persons and goods.
It advocates changes in policies and practices by the public authorities, both at the national and regional levels to improve business environment.
Mr Asiamah said this would not only remove the human element and help reduce revenue leakages, but more importantly, ensure faster turnaround time in customs processing and clearance of goods at the ports.
The Transport Minister noted that Government was also pursuing an aggressive programme to expand ports infrastructure.
He said construction works were also underway for the development of four container berths with deep-sea draught of 16 metres; stating that the new terminal, which had 50 per cent automation would be the biggest within the sub-region on completion.
He said similarly, the Government had also put in place a programme to develop a Dry Port at Boankra near Kumasi, as part of the integrated logistics system.
He said the project when completed, goods bound for the middle belt and northern part of the country as well as the landlocked countries of Burkina Faso, Niger and Mali would be charged at the inland port for onward transfer.
“I believe this is the first step in ensuring that we are able to move goods and services efficiently at minimum cost,” he said.
Mr Asiamah said the construction of a Dry Bulk Jetty with 800 metres quay at the Takoradi Port in the Western Region to handle bulk cargo and reduce cost was nearing completion and the partial use of the facility had paved way for the importation of clinker in transit to Burkina Faso.
The Transport Minister said the railway infrastructure, which was currently undergoing reconstruction, would boost transport in the area of trade and the coming into effect of the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AFCTA) was a welcome boost.
Mr Carlos Kingsley Ahenkorah, a Deputy Minister of Trade and Industry said Ghana being one of the first signatories to the AFCTA, had submitted its bid to host the headquarters of the organisation.
Madam Benonita Bismarck, Chief Executive Officer, GSA said the Authority was collaborating with the West African Trade Hub and subsequently Borderless Alliance for the past 13 years, to pursue the agenda of fluidity in trade traffic in the sub-region through advocacy and the development of innovative products for addressing bottlenecks to trade along their transit corridors.
Madam Janean Davis, USAID Deputy Mission Director, said the United States was committed to increasing trade and investment as a tool for West Africa’s development and journey to self-reliance as echoed by the “Ghana Beyond Aid” agenda.
Mr Jonas Lago, President, Borderless Alliance said the theme for this year’s conference seeks to focus on emerging trends, initiatives towards the improvement of border crossing procedures, road governance and port processes in order to facilitate intra-regional trade.
There were solidarity messages from the ECOWAS Commission, the Germany Embassy, the West African Monetary and Economic Union (UEMOA) and the ECOWAS Trade Liberalisation Scheme (ETLS).