The Association of Ghana Industries (AGI) has called on the government to drive further its One District One Factory (1D1F) policy initiative towards an end to dependence on imports of essential products.
Mr. Seth Twum-Akwaboah, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Association, said the heavy dependence on imports for essential commodities placed the nation on verge of panic during the global coronavirus lockdowns and called for the hastening of the district factory initiative.
Addressing the 2021 Annual General Meeting of the Eastern, Volta and Oti AGI, he said some traditional companies flourished when there was lockdown and that it helped prove the capacity of local producers.
“Some traditional companies did very well during the Coronavirus pandemic. These companies got a good market share because the imports also reduced. It meant that if we actually look inwards and reduce the imports, our industries would definitely grow and become very strong.
“Covid taught us another lesson; when all the countries were shutting down, because we depend so much on imports, it meant that at some point we were panicking; what if they don’t open up within a certain period, where are we going to get our important supplies from?
“That means as a country we need to look inwards and ensure the local production of basic essential products, to have most of it produced in this country, so that in situations of this nature, we are not found wanting and we always have access to products that we badly need for our survival,” Mr. Twum-Akwaboah stated.
The CEO mentioned the AGI’s collaboration with the trade ministry on promoting the 1D1F, and called on districts to encourage the establishment of multiple industries under the policy, saying, “we need so much and we need to produce so much in this country”.
“About 70 per cent of products we are consuming in this country is being imported and as an industry we have serious concerns over this. That’s why we welcome the Government’s efforts under the 1D1F, and we think that a lot more effort should go into it.
“The AGI is working with the Ministry of Trade to ensure local production of essentials. We are making every effort to ensure that local production actually comes up very strongly,” he said.
Mr. Twum-Akwaboah used the occasion to remind the government to review its policy on benchmark values as it played out to benefit importers and defeated the purpose of the local production aspirations of the industrialization agenda.
Mr. Herbert Krapa, a Deputy Minister of Trade, said a “forward thinking” President Akufo Addo’s resolve to move the nation’s economy beyond the traditional agrarian raw material producer to a manufacturing giant, was timely, and helped absorb the shockwaves of the coronavirus pandemic.
He said the President’s vision led the Trade Ministry to adopt “bold and aggressive initiatives” towards building a resilient industrial economy, and which included a multi-faceted industrial transformation agenda.
The Deputy Minister said a host of valiant endeavours by the government, including the IDIF, the financial sector clean up, strengthening of the Ghana Exim Bank, the Free SHS policy, and the restructuring of Ministries, agencies and departments, all emptied into plans towards a fully industrialized nation.
He said also that a digitized economy was being keenly pursued, and, together with a lead role in the Africa Continental Free Trade Area Agreement, and a strong commitment to establishing industrial enclaves in all regions, the nation’s dream of economic liberalization drew closer.
Mr. Krapa said over 100 of the total 278 1D1F projects were operational, providing jobs for over 150,000 Ghanaians, and called on the private sector to support the government’s efforts, and embrace the principles of good industrial practices.
“As a government, we will continue to provide the necessary foundation for the growth of the private sector. The ministry will continue to work hard to provide business-friendly policies, invest in human capital development, enhance your capacities through various training modules, and also knock down barriers that make it harder for you to compete.
“Notwithstanding, even as we make Ghana the investment destination in Africa, businesses also have a mandate to play in ensuring good corporate governance practices, investing in value addition, human resource capacities and research,” he said.
The AGM was on the theme; “Building Resilient Industries for the Eastern, Volta and Oti Regions for Sustainable Development”, and was attended by corporate executives, and other stakeholders including political leaders of the three Regions.
Dela Gadzanku, Chairman of the AGI in the regions, said a Free Zones enclave was awaited to attract companies, and also appealed to government to review the benchmark evaluation policy, saying major local producers including one of the nation’s largest oil palm producers, had been placed on the path to a fold up as a result.
“Large companies are seemingly suffocating. Ghana Oil Palm Company employs over 11,000 workers and they will all suffer,” he lamented.
Mr. Gadzanku said the Association endeavoured to support the Government develop the three regions, with Volta being positioned as a major processor and exporter of vegetables, the Eastern Region an exporter of fruits, and the Oti Region as an exporter of root tubers and ginger.
He said the AGI continued to lead the private industrial front, and had clocked support initiatives including business development workshops for small to medium scale industries, an E-Commerce portal, as well as an agribusiness project in partnership with the European Union.
Mr. Gadzanku said the Association in the Regions had brought closer foreign investment opportunities through deepened relationships with Embassies and High Commissions, and also collaborated with Government’s business resource centres on investment and trade facilitations.
Mr. Joshua Makubu, Oti Regional Minister, called for investments in the Region, saying it was home to lots of natural resources, good roads, and litigation-free lands, and was thus ideal for private investors.
Dr. Archibald Yao Letsa, Volta Regional Minister commended the AGI for its role in the industrialization agenda, and said the Region had four functioning factories under the 1D1F, and over 20 currently under construction.
Nana Obonbo Sewura Lapuwura II, Chief of Achode Traditional Area, and who chaired the event, called on the youth to take up the responsibility of leading the industrial transformation of the nation.
He said in view of the unemployment deficit in the country, the youth must collate ideas and accept the responsibility of creating jobs for themselves and “not rely on Government”, and therefore called on Government to resource the AGI to lead the youth industrialisation effort.