Mr Robert Ahomka-Lindsay, Deputy Minister of Trade and Industry, says private sector participation is key to the country’s quest to benefit from the Africa Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) agreement.
He said the government recognised the role of local entrepreneurs and was committed to supporting businesses succeed under the AfCFTA.
The Minister, who was addressing a regional stakeholders conference in Ho on the trade agreement, said the continental free trade area held prospects for the business community.
“Entrepreneurs must all be commended. It is not easy to set up and sustain a business throughout the years. It is a journey that needs the strength of character and focus.
Our AfCFTA journey would fail if the private sector does not take advantage. Many agencies are there to support you, so please be aware and don’t be afraid to walk in and ask for support,” he said.
Mr Ahomka-Lindsay said the government had supported key financial institutions to provide the needed support.
He said through the GRATIS Foundation, the government established technical solution centres across the country so small and medium enterprises (SMEs) could access the right equipment.
He said the One District One Factory (1D1F) initiative was to enable the private sector to make the most of the nation’s industrial prospects.
The Minister said to strengthen the local economy, there was the need for the export of value-added products, and appealed to the private sector to consider the 17 exportable products identified and supported by the government.
He said a National Export Development Strategy was developed to help transform the export economy and called for creativity to stay ahead of the free trade competition.
“We must explore ways to increase creativity around product processing and packaging. Ghana is the eighth highest exporter on the Continent and a focus of the competition,” Mr Ahomka Lindsay stated.
Mr Kofi Addo, Head of the 1D1F, said the government prioritised the establishment of industrial parks in all regions to support the development of the strategic anchor industries identified, including industrial metals, oil and gas, automobile assembly, and industrial chemicals, among others.
He said the government, in its passion to see the private sector blossom, gave supportive tax cuts and exemptions to cushion progress.
Mr Sandy Osei Agyeman, Board Chairman of the Ghana Export Promotion Authority (GEPA), advised businesses to consider the “multiplier effect” module, which he said was the secret to the success of the Jewish business community.
The multiplier effect stipulates that businesses sourced all raw materials from within to keep the wealth in the immediate community.
“If AfCFTA is to work, we have to practice the multiplier effect and not import from the Chinese,” he said.
Mr Osei Agyeman called for the establishment of more joint business ventures, saying it would facilitate the sharing of ideas, skills, and resources.
The Regional conference was on the theme: “Empowering Ghanaian Businesses to Harness the Benefits of the African Continental Free Trade Area Agreement under the Framework of the National Export Development Strategy (NEDS).”
The Ministry of Trade and Industry, the GEPA, and the National AfCFTA Coordinating Office organized the conference, which brought together stakeholders, including regulatory and revenue agencies, and entrepreneurs.
Rev. Johnson Avuletey, Deputy Volta Regional Minister, said the Volta Region was a bed of all the primary products and could progress in the free trade era when given the needed support.
He entreated entrepreneurs in the Region to reposition and take advantage of the much-awaited cross border trade liberation.
Trading under the AfCFTA will begin on January 1, 2021.
So far, 30 countries have ratified the agreement.
Ghana’s export development strategy is expected to help grow non-traditional export revenues from the present $2.9 billion to $25 billion by 2029.