The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) has underscored the need for Ghana to forge an integrated business support ecosystem to enable small and medium enterprises take full advantage of opportunities offered by AfCFTA.
Dr Edward Ampratwum, Head of Inclusive Growth and Accountable Governance at UNDP, who made the call, said business development services were one of the critical tools for small and medium scale enterprises (SMEs) sustainability.
There is therefore, the need for development services that would provide platforms that supported priorities to unlock the enormous transformative potential of SMEs to power Africa and particularly, Ghana’s long term prosperity.
Dr Ampratuwm was speaking at the opening of a two-day training workshop on how to trade under the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) for some selected women and youth led micro, small and medium scale businesses in Kumasi.
It was organized by the UNDP in partnership with the Ghana National AfCFTA Coordinating Office.
Among the topics discussed were business development services, access to finance, capacity building on good corporate governance and awareness creation to prevent radicalization, as well as energy and resource efficiency.
The UNDP aims at providing support to about 600 women and youth led micro, small and medium scale enterprises (MSMEs) in six selected metropolitan, municipal and district assemblies in the country.
The beneficiary districts are Kumasi Metropolitan, Ketu South Municipal, Sefwi Wiawso Municipal, Jomoro Municipal, Sagnarigu District, and Kassena–Nankana West District Assemblies.
The programme also forms part of the UNDP’s efforts to support government of Ghana’s Covid-19 recovery efforts.
Representatives of the Business Advisory Centers (BACs) and Business Resource Centers (BRCs) of the six beneficiary district assemblies, have already been trained to serve as focal persons to inform and sensitize MSMEs in their areas on AfCFTA opportunities and processes.
Dr Ampratwum pointed out that, most businesses lacked relevant information on product entry requirements, as well as the processes and procedures to access the single African market.
He said the training would help shape and position MSMEs to compete favourably on the African markets.
Dr. Fred Arthur, Head of the National AfCFTA Coordination Office, encouraged MSMEs to focus on improving their internal mechanisms to make the most of the agreement.
“Ghana’s dream to become a manufacturing hub of Africa can only be achieved with your active participation.
Together, let us contribute to Ghana’s National Export Development Strategy which is to help transform Ghana’s economy from raw commodity export to a manufacturing industrial export-driven economy”, he stated
Ms. Elizabeth Agyapong, a participant, commended the UNDP and AfCFTA Coordinating Office for initiating the training and described the knowledge acquired as one that would help them to grab the opportunities of the single African market.
“Initially, I didn’t know how important it was for me to obtain the necessary certification for my products and business.
“I have a better understanding of the measures and right channels to go through to have my business and products registered in a less cumbersome process as this is a prerequisite for trading under the AfCFTA”, she said
Mr David Ahiale Rutherford, another beneficiary, said he was into the production of herbal medicines but never knew the processes to go through to export his products.
“I am now aware of the steps I need to take to rebrand my business to take full advantage of the AfCFTA, I am so grateful for the opportunity”, he stated.