GEPA furthers export agenda with maiden Bakatue Expo

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Dr Afua Asabea Asare, the CEO of GEPA
Dr Afua Asabea Asare, the CEO of GEPA

The Ghana Export Promotion Authority (GEPA), has opened a three-day business expo as part of activities marking the 2023 Bakatue Festival of the chiefs and people of Elmina in the Central Region.

The expo, hosting businesses, entrepreneurs, and artisans mainly from the region, sought to expose the business potential of the region to the world and further its agenda to become a major exporter in the country.

Held on the theme: “Growing the Export Business in the Central Region,” the expo also offered a platform for knowledge sharing, business networking and a learning opportunity for prospective exporters.

Indeed, the region is boundlessly endowed with resources such as the sea, beaches, exciting fishing villages, historical towns and natural attractions, minerals, forests, forts and castles, and prominent schools, making it the ideal investment and tourism hub.
GEPA, therefore, sees it as an important zone for the development of export, hence the Authority’s continuous active support for the region’s development agenda.

To further strengthen the region’s position as a viable business hub, the exhibitors at the expo demonstrated creativity, innovation, and ingenuity in entrepreneurship through their various products and services on display.

The products, cutting across all sectors, included foods such as coconut flakes, attractively packaged gari, dried fish, and cereals, canned natural spices, fufu flour, bread, shito and cooking oil.

With fashion, there were various men and women outfits made from authentic African prints as well as accessories including clay beads, hand-woven transparent cotton bags, bead bags and slippers.

Enthusiasts of skin care products were also not left out as the exhibitors served them with indigenous cosmetics and assorted medicated products including soaps, hair foods, and oils.

Dr Afua Asabea Asare, the CEO of GEPA, indicated that the expo was a testament to their commitment to the development of non-traditional export in the region, pledging that it would be an annual event.

She pointed out that GEPA had undertaken significant export development interventions in the region including the development of the pineapple value chain, vegetable production and capacity building programmes for businesses.

GEPA’s recent flagship intervention, the Youth in Export programme, had also benefitted some youth in the region, she added.

Expressing admiration for the region’s wealth in resources and the potential it possessed, Dr Asabea found it unacceptable that the region was considered one of the most deprived in Ghana, lacking job opportunities and economic livelihoods.

“GEPA sees this as a challenge and a call to action to ensure that export-oriented opportunities are created for the benefit of the teeming youth in Komenda, Elmina and other parts of the region,” she underscored.

“The expo is one of the several enablers deployed by GEPA to expose the potential of SMEs producing products that can be improved and promoted locally and globally,” she added.
The GEPA CEO reiterated the Authority’s commitment to driving the continuous development of made-in-Ghana products and services and the competitiveness of the local SME.

She urged all businesses to take full advantage of GEPA’s regional office in Cape Coast and called on all stakeholders to collaborate with the Authority to transform Elmina and the Central region at large.

Mrs. Justina Marigold Assan, the Central Regional Minister, commended GEPA for its continuous support for the region.

She implored all stakeholders to unite and collaborate in all endeavours, noting that they could achieve more together than they could as individuals.

In her view, the ingenuity showcased by the exhibitors was a demonstration of the region’s potential to adapt and compete on the global level.

That notwithstanding, she cautioned that it would be suicidal to compromise innovation and diversity in the age of globalisation where everybody was a competitor.

Mrs. Assan appealed to businesses to embrace eco-friendly approaches to protect the environment for the now and future.

For his part, Nana Kwadwo Conduah VI, the Omanhen of Elmina, urged all Ghanaians to eschew the scramble over foreign products and patronise made-in-Ghana products to strengthen the economy.

He pointed to how the Chinese and the Indians, for instance, proudly patronised their own products, a behaviour which had given them a relatively stronger currency.

“But in Ghana, we dislike our own products and run after foreign foods and products. Let us patronise made in Ghana products to have a stable currency,” he said.

“For me, my favourite food is etsew and fried fish, and plantain and tilapia; that is the healthy food and not fried rice and chicken,” he added.

The Bakatue is the major festival of the chiefs and people of Elmina, who offer prayers and appreciation to the gods for a good fishing year.

Earlier on Tuesday, hundreds of enthusiastic indigenes, visitors, and revellers converged on the bank of the Benya Lagoon to witness the rituals to lift the ban on fishing from the lagoon, Bakatue.

The ban on fishing from the lagoon was placed by the traditional authorities of the ancient town exactly a month ago in line with tradition to allow the fishes to replenish its stock.

This year’s festival is on the theme: “Buy made in Ghana goods and use made in Ghana products and support Ghanaian industries and create employment for the youth.”

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