One-day conferences have been held in fifteen (15) regions nationwide to share insights on the implementation of the Africa Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) Agreement and the National Export Development Strategy with the Ghanaian business community.
The regional event which was under the theme “Empowering Ghanaian Businesses to harness the benefits of the African Continental Free Trade Agreement under the framework of the National Export Development Strategy (NEDS)” was jointly organized by the Ministry of Trade and Industry (MOTI), the Ghana Export Promotion Authority (GEPA) and the National AfCFTA Coordination Office.
Partner institutions at these Regional conferences were the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration, Ghana Standards Authority, Food & Drugs Authority, Ghana Eximbank, Ghana Revenue Authority (Customs Division) with CIMG Bank of the Year – Stanbic Bank Ghana as Sponsor.
These conferences served two main purposes; to enable exporters, potential exporters and the business community in general to understand what the Africa Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) Agreement is about and how the National Export Development Strategy will enable businesses take advantage of the African open market of 1.2 billion persons.
The Regional Conferences are a follow-up to the National Conference on the implementation of AfCFTA held at the Accra International Conference Centre from October 20 – 21, 2020 and opened by His Excellency President Akufo-Addo.
The Regional Conferences were heavily patronized by representatives from the Regional Coordinating Councils, Metropolitan, Municipal and District Chief Executives, Business Owners, Trade Associations, SMEs and MSMEs as well as the Academia.
The Regional Conferences kicked off with a well-attended event at the Golden Tulip Hotel in Kumasi. This was followed by similar ones held in Sunyani, Techiman, Damongo, Tamale, Elmina, Takoradi, Nalerigu, Sefwi Wiawso, Bolgatanga, Koforidua, Ho, Wa, Krachi Nkwanta and Goaso throughout the month of November 2020.
Vibrant discussions emanating from the Q&A sessions touched on issues of quality and standards for export products, support to build local factories, development and sustenance of production volumes as raw material base for agro-based industries, access to capital for business growth, opportunities for participation in Government’s flagship 1D1F programme and access to markets within the AfCFTA.
Hon. Robert Ahomka-Lindsay, Deputy Minister for Trade & Industry who delivered the keynote address at most of these events stressed the need for Private Sector to ready itself to take advantage of the many initiatives Government has put in place to support and empower businesses.
He explained that the business of Government was not to do business but to facilitate and support the private sector through agencies such as Ghana Export Promotion Authority, Ghana Standards Authority, Food and Drugs Authority, Ghana Revenue Authority and the National Board for Small Scale Industries.
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He said, the NBSSI would soon be transformed into the Ghana Enterprise Agency and its mandate strengthened so that MSMEs can be provided more support.
The Chief Executive Officer of the Ghana Export Promotion Authority, Dr. Afua Asabea Asare reiterated the importance placed on the development of district products under the One District One Exportable Product policy outlined in the NEDS. This she explained was the thrust of one of the pillars of the document to provide ready source of raw materials for the 1D1Fs.
The Board Chair of GEPA Mr. Sandy Osei-Agyeman sharing perspectives as a private business owner, urged SMEs not to shy away from partnerships but rather embrace the concept and work together to create a formidable force that can collectively meet the increasing demand for Ghanaian products and services on the international markets. He also encouraged small business owners to seek advice from successful businessmen in order to be successful.
Trading under the AfCFTA is scheduled to begin on January 1st, 2021. According to the African Union (AU), intra-African trade is estimated to increase by 52.3 percent (US$34.6 billion) under the AfCFTA.
The free trade area is expected to cover a market of 1.2 billion people and a gross domestic product (GDP) of US$2.5 trillion, across the 54 member states which have signed up to the Agreement.
The continental trading bloc is expected to be the world’s largest free trade area since the formation of the World Trade Organization (WTO) in terms of the number of participating states.
In attendance were Hon. Alan Kwadwo Kyerematen, Minister of Trade and Industry, Hon. Shirley Ayorkor Botchwey, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration, with H.E. Mr. Wamkele Mene, Secretary General of the AfCFTA Secretariat as Special Guest of Honour.