Government will support the private sector to take full advantage of the benefits attached to hosting the Secretariat of the African Continental Free Trade Agree (AfCFTA) Agreement adopted by African Union.
Mr Alan Kyerematen, the Minister of Trade and Industry on Wednesday gave the assurance at the 43rd Annual General Meeting of the Ghana National Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GNCCI) when he said taking advantage of the Agreement required adequate preparation.
He said to be able to create the institutional support for the private sector, the Government introduced a new framework and would soon create the National Coordinating Office at the AfCFTA to serve as a one-stop-office to coordinate all needed support and information for businesses.
He said hosting the Secretariat should make Ghana the new commercial capital for Africa, adding that there was the need for Ghanaian businesses to take the full advantage of the Agreement.
He said the structural transformation that the country sought would not occur unless it was linked with the transformation of the entire continent, hence the need for the Continent to work together towards leveraging on the existing market of 1. 2 billion in Africa.
Mr Kyerematen said one of the reason why African countries remained poor over the years though being the richest continent was because there were 54 fragmented markets, hence the significance of the AfCFTA with the power to unite and increase market for the Continent’s industry.
He said no country had achieved significant growth without feeding on its regional market, adding that, South Korea and Malaysia did not develop on its own accounts, but rather on the account of the Regional approach adopted by Asian countries.
The sector Minister said the African Union Heads of State came out with some action programmes that could assist countries to take full advantage of the Agreement, which included; favourable trade policy, a programme to enhance the capacity of local industries and adequate trade related infrastructure.
He said the Heads of States also identified the need to make trade information readily accessible on what every African country could sell to the other, adding that, unless we have trade information, it would not be easy for African countries to know what to sell to each other.
He said thy also identified the need to ensure trade facilitation in the form of enhancing the movement of goods and persons across ports, rail and road networks and that transportation was a major pillar for businesses to benefit from the agreement.
Mr Kyerematen said the country took the lead in signing the protocol for free movement of persons within African countries to ensure the effective management of person across the borders, adding that, the Government would work together with private sector to provide the needed support in the areas aforementioned.
He said preparing to reap the benefits associated with the AfCFTA required a private sector that would efficiently manage resources and people and increase product quality and take advantage of branding to increase customer base.
He urged the private sector to ensure an effective e-commerce platform as it was the way forward in business transactions, adding that, the AfCFTA was going to be major game changer in corporate practice because it was the single most important thing that would attract more investment to Africa.
Nana Dr Appiagyei Dankawoso I, the President of the GNCCI commended the Bank of Ghana for taking steps to restore the health and resilience of the financial sector urging the regulator to strengthen its supervisory and regulatory mechanism in ensuring strict compliance in the industry.
Nana Dankawoso I said the Chamber believed a stable exchange regime was critical for business growth and that government must address the perennial depreciation of the cedi arising mainly due to the systemic structure of over-reliance on export of primary products with low value addition.
On his part, Mr Samuel Koranteng, the Corporate Services Executive at MTN Ghana commended Government for the significant strides made so far in the digital transformation of the Ghanaian economy with the introduction of the ECOWAS Card, the Paperless clearing at the ports and harbour among others.
He said digitisation of the economy was keen to the global competition adding that mobile money services had the power to quicken the drive towards a cashless economy.