A year after trading commenced under the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA), about 73.80 per cent of traders have been identified to have “little or no understanding” of AfCFTA protocols on goods and service, a study has revealed.
It also showed that a corresponding 52 per cent of firms that operated across key sectors of the Ghanaian economy had little or no understanding of the protocols.
The study conducted by the Aya Institute with support from GIZ was aimed at enhancing the capacity of women-led Micro Small Medium Enterprises and cross-border traders to take advantage of AfCFTA.
It sought to explore the level of preparedness and awareness of cross-border women traders and women-led MSMEs while identifying challenges confronting women traders and women led MSMEs in taking advantage of the AfCFTA.
Speaking on the methodology of the study at a workshop to disseminate findings of the study, Madam Eunice Offei, a research team member, indicated that both a quantitative and qualitative methods that included desk review approach, focus group discussion and survey were deployed for the study.
“Purposive sampling was used to select the women traders and women-led businesses across the major economic and trading zones in the country,” she added.
She said that 83 firms and about 370 women traders were sampled for the purpose of a survey and a Focused Group Discussion with 16 members in each group.
Data, she said, was collected in Accra, Kumasi among other urban centres and areas along the border towns of Aflao, Elubo, and Paga.
About 52 per cent of participants were in the services sector with 41 per cent in the retail sector and seven per cent in the manufacturing sector, she said.
The study also revealed that AfCFTA awareness level in the services and retail sector was much higher than the level in manufacturing sector with less than 35 per cent of traders in the sector aware of AfCFTA as compared to 55 per cent and 50 per cent of counterparts in the retail and services sectors respectively.
Madam Offei indicated that majority of traders and firms were not fully prepared to explore AfCFTA market as about 65.6 per cent of traders said there had not been sufficient time and resources to prepare for trading under AfCFTA while a corresponding 45 per cent of firms expressed the same view.
She added that 82 per cent of traders with a corresponding 79 per cent of firms had not had any financial assistance to make the needed investment or scale up production for AfCFTA.
“Currently, there has not been any kind of assistance from any institution since the commencement of the AfCFTA Initiative. This is the case for all participants,” she said.
The study also revealed that issues of bribery and corruption at borders, increase in importation of substandard goods and unsustainability of AfCFTA due to instability on the continent, were concerns raised by businesses in the country.
As part of the study recommendation, Madam Offei, among other things, called for the adoption of innovative financing strategies for MSMEs, adoption of an information dissemination approach to bridge awareness gap on AfCFTA and the setting up of institutional support mechanism for traders across regions.