The Reverend Dr Worlanyo Mensah, Executive Director of Centre for Greater Impact Africa, a policy think tank, has called on industries to take advantage of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCTA) to expand.
He said there was the need to empower the private companies to take advantage of the AfCTA to expand and create more jobs for the youth.
Rev. Mensah said this when he led a five-member delegation from the Centre for Greater Impact Africa to pay a working visit to ‘B5 Plus’ the largest steel manufacturer in West African and the third in Africa.
Other members of the delegation were: Mr Samuel Akoetey, Director for Business Development for the Centre, Justice Isaac Douse, Appeals Court Judge (retired), Dr Chris Kpodar, formerly of the United Nations, and Mr Prince Saviour Gankui, all Technical Advisors for the Centre.
The Centre for Greater Impact Africa is a think tank that focuses on academic research, public education and facilitates trade and industry throughout the African Sub-region.
Rev. Mensah explained that part of the reason for the working visit was to introduce the initiative and push private companies to achieve the aim of creating more jobs.
He added that starting with B5 Plus, they hoped to gather and document information that would help the Centre to engage government and relevant institutions on the best way to support industries to expand and reach more countries within AfCTA.
The Executive Director agreed that there was the need for African governments to provide the needed basic amenities to companies as well as formulate good administrative policies to help companies thrive in their various countries.
He said there was the need for government to formalize the informal sector through digitalization to ensure that more people fulfil their tax obligations to the state instead of over-burdening the ones who were already complying.
He indicated that once the tax pressure on industries reduces, they would be in a better position to expand thereby creating more jobs, which would also lead to employment and more Internally Generated Fund for government to provide the needed infrastructure locally and nationally.
Other members of the Centre commended B5 Plus for their courage to invest in a third world country such as Ghana, saying there was the need for companies with the technical know-how to also consider providing some technical training for the youth within their operational areas.
They gave the assurance that they would liaise with the needed institutions to address challenges faced by the companies in their quest to help them expand.
Mr Mukesh V. Thakwani, Chief Executive Officer of B5 Plus Group commended the Centre for the initiative.
He said the greatest challenge facing the company was the lack of water, electricity, good roads and safety, which were key in their operations.
Mr Thakwani described it as frustrating when lights were put out for hours without any communications, leading to a halt in production.
He also expressed concern about consistent armed robbery attacks and called on the security agencies to consider protecting industries in the enclave.
He also appealed to the government to consider some tax exemptions on the importation of the company’s main raw materials or banning and increasing the levy on the importation of finished products being produced in Ghana to create the needed competitive market for local industries.
He said there was the need for government to support it to expand and produce more, adding the company had provided over 15,000 direct and indirect jobs.
He said as part of its Corporate Social Responsibility they were providing free oxygen to all government hospitals in the country from their gas plant.
Members of the group had the opportunity to tour the factory, where different types and grades of iron and steel were manufactured from scrap metal.
The factory, apart from manufacturing iron rods, was also into the fabrication of all types of metal items, including wheelbarrows, tankers and trailers, beams, columns and steel billet among others.