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We all know the importance of Artisans to every economy. Their projects can be valuable form of grassroots development for indigenous people, simultaneously serving economic and social goals. They provide income that complements subsistence agriculture while reinforcing ethnic identity and cultural pride.

But in our part of the world, young artisans, on the other hand, face a more difficult economic situation, because there is no government body that can protects nor factor them in their policy formulations.

On the backdrop of this, the Artisans Association of Ghana, (AAG) has called on government to re-look at the Public Procurement Act to give Small and Medium Enterprises the opportunity to also secure government contracts in the country.

The organization, at a recent media engagement held at its conference hall at Tema Gulf City, outlined its woes to the government.

The AAG as an umbrella for these local artisans lamented how almost all government contracts are being awarded to foreign contractors, who do not even respect our own people to be part of them to work as qualifies hands, except to give them menial jobs for just some coins at the end of the day.

They intimated it will take a timely government intervention to salvage Ghana’s economic situation.

Find the full statement below;

PRESS RELEASE

ISSUED BY THE ARTISANS ASSOCIATION OF GHANA ON THE; “Advocacy Research For Simplified Permitting, Documentation Process To Facilitate The Securing, And Completing Of Government Contracts By Artisans In Ghana.

The Artisans Association of Ghana (AAG), was fully registered under sections 27 and 28 of the Companies Act, 1963 as Non- Profit making organization on 27th November 2012, though the vision was birthed a year earlier.

Our mission is to train, upgrade and aid in certification of unskilled youth and master craftsmen, as well as enable them provide services that meet global standards as we seek to become the most preferred network of artisans in the country.

With over 7,000 members drawn from specialized trade areas like Glass Aluminum Fabricating, Welding, Auto Engineering, Photography, Plumbing, Pest Control, Construction, Carpentry, Architecture, Painting, and many more, we seek to remain the largest organized body of artisans in Ghana and beyond.

Marking our 7th year of existence, the association has trained thousands of artisans across the regions of Ghana to be more profitable and beneficial to the state, as it is an open fact that there is no way humanity could exist, or even a nation built without the involvements of artisans.

All these facts notwithstanding however, it is very sad and highly disappointing that, we the artisans who build you your luxurious houses, connect your water for you, services your luxurious cars to ensure your safety, and even design your beautiful clothes for you among other unavoidable service, are rather the least recognized and least respected by the people, and even the government.

Artisans are rather regarded as failures or people who are frustrated in life. And so people even hire your services and want to pay you whatever amount they desire. But the truth still remains that, “No Artisans, No Life.”

It is quite disappointing and so discrediting however that for a developing country like Ghana, where artisans play a crucial role in terms of nation building, successive governments have paid very little attention to supporting their own when it comes to award of key government contracts.

Mostly when quizzed, the assertion is that, local artisans don’t have the capacity to execute those contracts. At other times, we are told that the source of funding for the various projects require that the contract is awarded to foreign companies. How can we develop as a nation with such backward excuses that fight against our own people?

This ill treatment of our local artisans, has ended up rendering thousands of our youth who have wonderful skill training jobless, and in the nut shed, tend to increase the unemployment situation in the country. Because if we ourselves prefer to hire foreign artisans for both our national and local contracts, then who should hire our local artisans..? Meanwhile, we also contribute our quota to national development.

As the President of the Artisans Association of Ghana, I stand today on behalf of my entire members to deny the allegation that our local artisans are not skillful and capable enough to execute any contract awarded us.

That is a huge fallacy, because Ghana has very great and competent artisans who can and are more that capable of executing any kind of contract awarded us. The problem is rather the procurement processes and policy, not incapable artisans..!!

The complexity in the acquisition of permits and documentation process of local artisans to participate, secure and execute government contract has become an obstacle, which adversely affect their business operations.

The non-existent of a National Policy to streamline permitting and reduce the bureaucracy by simplifying bidding and competitive tendering processes has largely contributed to the massive unemployment situation among artisans.

Here, we want to express our gratitude to the Business Sector Advocacy and Challenges (BUSAC) and its development partners, DANIDA and USAID for their financial support, which has enabled us to fight for the course of these skillful, but vulnerable artisans in the country.

We also want to thank our Technical Monitor, Mr. Samuel Ofoe, for all his technical support.

Currently, a research fully sponsored by BUSAC, was conducted at random across the regions to ascertain the main cause of artisans unemployment situation in the county.

The study which employed both qualitative and quantitative research approaches using descriptive research design, captured an artisan population of 1,113 with male population of 938 and female population of 175 who operate in Tema, Accra, Takoradi, Ashaiman and Kumasi.

Simple random sampling was employed to sample 112 respondents constituting 94 males and 18 females. Questionnaires, interviews and focus group discussion were the data collection instruments used to collect the needed data for the study.

The quantitative data obtained were analyzed using Statistical Product for Service Solutions (SPSS) version 22 whilst the qualitative data were subjected to descriptive narrations and categorized under themes.

We want to state categorically that the marginalization of local artisans in the participation and execution of government contract is worrying and a threat to national security, as most of the youthful artisans are gradually been rendered jobless. Pardon me to state here that, Government’s “Ghana Beyond Aid” and job creation agenda will be defeated if the status quo remains.

In the current scheme of things, we have identified three major impediments in local artisan participation in the award of government contracts and they are as follows;

1. Difficulty in obtaining information from state institutions

2. Difficulty in participating in tendering processes

3. Difficulty in registering businesses

Unlike in other jurisdictions where information regarding government tender processes is readily available to the public, accessing such information in our country is like pulling hair from your nostrils.

The bureaucracies alone in the system is enough to frustrate you for a lifetime. Political influence, excessive favouritism, bribery and corruption in the contracting process mostly deter artisans from participating in government business.

In view of these challenges the Artisans Association of Ghana, with sponsorship from BUSAC, has as part of our advocacy campaign, among several activities, engaged stakeholders in forums and other dialogues to try to put heads together to find a lasting solution to these worrisome problems of artisans in Ghana.

We have had dialogue with the concerned stakeholders to outline our problems and also hear from them as to what best they could help bridge the gab and help the local artisans to also be able to secure better contracts from government.

The “artisan economy” has an estimated annual value of 32 billion, and it’s one of the largest employers in the developing world. One can only imagine the enormous benefit such an economy would bring to the table when carefully looked at.

The challenges that artisans face when it comes to award of government contracts cannot be eradicated in a day but with the right mechanisms in motion, a lot can be achieved within a short time for national development.

We therefore propose that, the government should review the Procurement Law to cater for local artisans where sub-contracts can be awarded to them.

We also recommend that registered and recognized artisan associations should be consulted and be part of the contract award scheme. As an umbrella body for artisans we believe strongly that this will ensure a more accountable regime where artisans who do not deliver can be held accountable and vice versa.

Last but not least, we propose that the tendering and bidding policy should be reviewed to ensure that the nonrefundable bidding fee is scrapped. We believe that, making the bidding fee refundable to unsuccessful applicant will eliminate attrition and give them another shot when another bid is started.

Long Live the AAG………………..Long Live Ghana…!!

Signed by:

Gideon Bidor

(President)

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