Free Zones enterprises in Ghana currently, numbering 217 have made export earnings of over US$27 billion, employing about 33,000 people directly with over 31,000 being Ghanaians.
This was revealed at the 3rd Free Zone CEO’s Forum Held at the Marriott Hotel, Wednesday, December 7, 2022.
The Forum brought together Chief Executive Officers (CEOs) of various enterprises to take stock and discuss issues of common interest to improve the operations of the Free Zones Authority and enterprises.
They also address challenges they face due of the pandemic and current worldwide economic situation.
These enterprises have chalked several successes whish have been propelled by the policy interventions being embarked upon by the Free Zones Authority.
Commending the GFZA for these impressive achievements, the Guest of Honour, Hon. Oboshie Sai Cofie, Presidential Advisor on Media and Strategic Communications indicated that the Free Zones Enterprises have performed impressively in contributing toward the economic growth of the country through employment creation, boost in Ghana foreign exchange, diversified the range of export products and invested capital in the Ghanaian economy.
“You have also created jobs indirectly for other companies that supply your inputs and provide services. Your corporate social responsibility projects have also had a positive impact on local communities. More significantly, you have made it possible for Ghana to be part of the global value chain especially in the cocoa, shea and fruit processing sectors,” she said.
According to her, events across the world have shown that the way to go is export-led industrialization hence government’s focus on an export-led industrialization strategy of which the free zones programme is a key component.
She said: “Increasing export sales allows for increased revenues for businesses, which has a positive knock-on effect on those who directly or indirectly benefit from Ghanaian businesses. This government is committed to local businesses, and has policies in place that focus on boosting local productive capacity. This is to accelerate the drive towards self-sufficiency of the country, reduce reliance on imports as well as ensure availability of raw materials and other inputs that were previously imported for the industrial sector.”
The economic challenges the country is currently facing, she said, have heightened the need to move more rapidly towards transformation of our economy by renewing the focus on increased export promotion, which has contributed to the agenda for promoting and diversifying exports.
“We are implementing a National Export Development Strategy (NEDS) which is designed to propel the country, in the shortest possible time…It is expected that this strategy, with the support of government and the private sector like yourselves, will begin to transform the structure of the Ghanaian economy from a raw commodity exporter to a manufacturing industrial export-driven economy.”
Government she said, is also pursuing opportunities that ensure that full advantage is taken of the Africa Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) Agreement as part of efforts to pursue an export-led economic recovery focused on value chain development.
Hon. Oboshie Sai Cofie however mentioned that government is absolutely determined to surmount the challenges being faced by the Ghanaian economy and it is resolute in its intention to restructure the economy, transform the financial system and build resilience.
Minister of Trade and Industry
On his part, Minister of Trade and Industry, Hon. Alan Kyerematen, whose speech was read on his behalf by his Deputy, Herbert Krapa noted that efforts of the GFZA and its enterprises cannot go unnoticed considering the huge capital investment they have made in the country aside job creation and technology transfer.
He stated that with the global crisis that is affecting the economies of world, the need for increased production capacity of our industries is requisite to rising above the effects of Covid-19 and the global crisis. “The dire need for foreign exchange and FDIs in cushioning our economy can greatly be achieved through export. There is therefore the need to promote exports as a nation now more than ever. As a country and a growing economy, we must be able to produce our basic needs, as well as have the abundance to promote exports for foreign exchange. This is the key objective of the government’s initiatives such as the One District One Factory (1D1F),” he said.
The Minister noted that agencies such as the GFZA will have to function in their best capacity to expand productive capacity across all industries of the economy which will not only promote exports, but greatly encourage the processing of local agro and other intermediary products for manufacturing.
“The GFZA will also have a desk office, thus free zone companies interested in exploring to the African market can access information through this office. As the Minister of Trade & Industry, I have been involved in drafting the AfCFTA policy and protocols, therefore I am very much interested in seeing businesses take full advantage of the opportunities, especially the free zone enterprises who are already familiar with export,” he said.
He stressed that government will reposition the strategies of the GFZA to effectively collaborate with AfCFTA, challenging the Authority and all stakeholders to map out a strategy to ensure these recommendations are implemented to enable Ghana benefit from opportunities offered under the SEZs.
CEO Amb. Micheal Oquaye Jnr.
The Chief Executive of Ghana Free Zones Authority, Amb. Micheal Oquaye Jnr. said the Forum was held as part of the Ghana Free Zones Investment Week celebrations which commenced on the 5th December and will end on the 9th of December 2022 under the theme “GFZA: Championing Export-led Industrial growth in the context of AfCFTA and world trade”.
He said the Investment Week celebration is expected to be held annually to showcase the achievements of the Free Zones Programme. “This is therefore a celebration of your achievements, as distinguished CEOs, the GFZA, MOTI and other State Agencies like GEPA and GIPC and to inform the Ghanaian populace of what we are all doing for the country.”
He explained that the scheme is primarily set up, to drive the country’s growth, to shore up our foreign currency deposits and to create jobs, and stressed that there are impressive achievements made by the enterprises to the development of the Ghanaian economy.
He said: “By virtue of being Free Zone Enterprises, you are part of the team of investors, who are focused on spearheading Ghana’s export-led industrialization programme. I wish to remind you of the Authority’s role not only as a regulator but also as a facilitator ensuring that your investments in Ghana yield maximum returns. Government Agencies are not to be seen as barriers, but as facilitators and promoters of business. This requires cooperation between all government agencies as well as private sector. We are all one family and our collective purpose is to serve all Ghanaians.”
The next step to Prosperity, he indicated, is the SPECIAL ECONOMIC ZONES, where he admitted the need for them to leap frog the rest of the world and make all SEZ’s green.
“No carbon footprints like in India or China etc., we must invest more in recycled waste and water, eco-friendly buildings as well as solar energy among other renewable energy options. As a way forward, green development will be a priority in developing new free zone enclaves, under the Ghana Free Zones Agency in charge of SEZ’s,” he said.
Amb. Micheal Oquaye Jnr. said SEZs are the future Garages and Hangers where they will park business cars and planes, pertaining to Industry and Service to Africa and the World.