Deputy Minister for Trade and Industry, Robert Ahomka-Lindsay, says private sector participation in the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) agreement is key to Ghana benefitting enormously from the trade pact.
According to him, government recognises the role of local entrepreneurs and is committed to supporting local 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,” he said.
“Our AfCETA 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 added.
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.
Also speaking on the One District One Factory (1D1F) initiative, the Trade Minister noted it is to enable the private sector 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 on the competition,” Mr Ahomka Lindsay stated.
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 AfCETA 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.
Trading under the AfCETA 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.