Ghana-UNIDO trade collaboration has enhanced growth, competitiveness of SMEs – Trade Minister

KT Hammond – Minister of Trade and Industry

Mr K.T Hammond, the Minister of Trade and Industry, has lauded Ghana’s collaboration with the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), saying the partnership has enhanced growth and competitiveness of Ghanaian Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs).

“UNIDO and EU support under WACOMP has strengthened capacities in the cassava, fruits and cosmetics export value-chains and the One District One Factory increasing job creation,” he said.

The Minister said this in a speech read on his behalf at the 3rd Cluster International Conference held in Accra on Wednesday, to strengthen cluster inclusiveness for SMEs.

The conference, provided the platform to discuss and share sustainable solutions and innovations targeted at boosting industrial competitiveness for Ghanaian entrepreneurs in cassava, fruits and cosmetics sectors.

Over 200 participants comprising SMEs supported by the EU-funded West African Competitiveness Program (WACOMP) implemented by UNIDO and the Trade Ministry and delegations from ECOWAS, Liberia, Nigeria, and Austria strengthened connections to the AfCFTA.

Mr Hammond said, since 2019, the Ministry had worked closely with the UNIDO WACOMP – Ghana team to strengthen SMEs in the country.

He noted that the support funding from the European Union through various technical support, particularly for small businesses had boosted Ghanaian companies to leverage on the international market.

“From stories of entrepreneurs starting from tabletop to now exporting to other countries under the WACOMP Programme and earning millions and impacting other 44,296 entrepreneurs,” he explained.

Additionally, Mr Hammond indicated that the impact of the support through the partnership between the Government of Ghana, the European Union and UNIDO, had led to the rapid growth of private sector jobs, both in industry and agriculture, adding that this had generated a lot of rural and urban jobs to address widespread unemployment, especially amongst the youth. 

“As you can see, most of the SMEs here today at this Cluster conference are young, ready to scale up on the support so far provided and producing Made-in-Ghana quality products.

“I have no doubt in my mind, that if we continue to work as partners and collaborate with one another, we are in the position to unlock the untapped potentials of the MSMEs, which is not only the future of Ghana but other developing countries,” the Minister noted.

Mrs. Ebe Muschialli, UNIDO Industrial Development Expert and WACOMP- Ghana Project Manager, expressed excitement about the progressive success of UNIDO-supported SMES under the WACOMP.

“Many of these entrepreneurs have evolved from struggling to comply with market requirements to be part of Ghanaian delegations in international markets. Their products have improved, the value added locally has increased and the packaging and branding has become much more attractive.

“All this with a strong impact on the local communities in terms of job creation and women economic empowerment,” he indicated.

Mr. Stavros Papastavrou, UNIDO Officer in Charge of Ghana and Liberia, noted the strong cooperation between UNIDO and the Government of Ghana citing the joint commitment to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

He highlighted UNIDO’s support to SMEs competitiveness and collective efficiency, agribusinesses, skills development, renewable energy, Kaizen expansion and quality which are all geared to enhance value addition, sustainable production, and access to regional and global markets.

Mrs Malgorzata Pitura, a Representative from the Macro-Economic and Trade Section of the European Delegation to Ghana, said WACOMP – Ghana, was a flagship programme of the EU which sought to support SMEs in the country to take advantage of opportunities presented by the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA)

“Supporting SMEs to facilitate SMEs integration in regional and international markets proves to be a strategic approach to ensure that Ghana actively participates in the opportunities offered by the African Continental Free Trade Agreement,” she stressed.

Dr. Charles Kwame Sackey, Chief Technical Advisor of WACOMP-Ghana commended the various clusters whose products have drastically improved over the past five years.

He recounted how many SMEs struggled to implement basic Good Manufacturing Practices (GMPs) at the beginning and how now, thanks to WACOMP’s support, most of the SMEs have become competitive in both the national and the international markets.

Source: GNA

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