Mr Yaw Osafo-Maafo, Presidential Advisor, has called on businesses to concentrate on production to remain competitive in the global market as they take advantage of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) Agreement.
He said if businesses produced but could not be competitive, then they have a problem, because other African countries are also producing onto the same market.
Mr Osafo-Maafo, speaking at the fourth Ghana Industrial Summit and Exhibition 2021, said “competitive production is key.”
The three-day event is being organised by the Association of Ghana Industries (AGI), in partnership with the Volta River Authority (VRA) on the theme: “Repositioning Ghanaian Industries to leverage the AfCFTA.”
The event, which will be held in person and virtually, seeks to create an avenue for the Ghanaian private sector to dialogue with policy-makers, investors and other industry players.
It will also be an opportunity for businesses to network and showcase their products and services to prospective clients and investors.
The Summit will hold discussions on technological advancements in industry, energy requirements, infrastructure, financing and many other thought-provoking topics needed by local businesses seeking to trade within the African single market.
It is expected to bring the entire business community; small, medium and large-scale companies alike to contribute to the discussion on leveraging the benefits the AfCFTA presents.
He said government also owed it a duty to provide an atmosphere that would make businesses competitive and that the Government would be ever ready to create the needed environment for businesses to be competitive in AfCFTA.
The Presidential Advisor called on Banks to continue to support industries in terms of access to financing to be successful on the AfCFTA platform.
He said AGI’s sustained advocacy for improved business environment with activities like the business summit, strengthening the private sector has put governments on its toes, making them create a friend environment for business growth.
Mr Osafo-Maafo said the success of AGI was important because, one major problem the economy faced was the issue of unemployment and unemployment was a security threat, therefore, “we need industry to step in a big way to help solve the challenge.”
He said industry could not step in without financing and therefore, they needed to be supported by financial institutions to enable them succeed.
The Special Advisor said by establishing AfCFTA and hosting in Ghana, businesses had been given a great market and that market could only be exploited by industry to their own advantage.
“lf we do well in exporting to other African countries, it will strengthen our currencies and create employment,” he added.
He said “so AGI, this is your chance to make Ghana proud and make Africa the Centre of industrial establishment and make use of AfCFTA as an Association.”
Dr Yaw Adu Gyamfi, AGI President, said COVID-19 dealt a big blow to the Association as about 80 per cent of their businesses were affected last year.
He said affordable electricity, Ghana’s tariff negotiations and liberalization strategy within AFCFTA and incentives for Industry were major concerns, as all these impact on the local production and export capacity.
Dr Adu Gyamfi said to do well in AfCFTA, AGI “understands the importance of cost of doing business and leveraging AfCFTA becomes more difficult if local production and competitiveness were weak”.
He said as a country, Ghana has also signed a number of trade agreements such as the interim Economic Partnership Agreement, the UK Trade Partnership agreement and “I am certain that all these are well-intended. However, let us not lose sight of the fact that these agreements also come with duty free quota free trade provisions and therefore put some pressure on our local industry to compete with imports.”
He said in the midst of all these agreements, the need for a country AfCFTA strategy became so crucial and paramount for them to survive the looming competition.
“We urge Government to expedite action on our AfCFTA strategy and indeed, specific products and sectors must be selected and incentivized as growth pillars of our economy, in line with our National Export Development agenda,” he added.
He said the AGI was set to re-define their business models in view of the disruptions they suffered last year and the emerging dynamics of international trade.
He said aligned with Government’s CARES Obaatanpa programme, they were determined to build resilience, anchored on Government’s stimulus measures to reignite growth for Industry.
The AGI President said it was important for Government to prioritize its policy interventions and stimulus support for Industry within the overarching framework of Ghana’s Industrial Transformation Agenda.
Topics to be discussed at the Summit include Ghana’s strategy for AfCFTA and implementation so far; guidelines for exporting under the AfCFTA, E-commerce under the AfCFTA, and payments /settlements /digital banking & financial solutions.
Others include Power supply, reliability and competitive pricing; the role of renewable energy in industrial competitiveness; opportunities in the Nuclear Power Project for Ghana’s Industrial Acceleration; Regulatory framework governing power supply and opportunities for industry.