The Ghana Free Zones Authority (GFZA) has signed a memorandum of understanding with a private developer for the development of about 1,500 acres of land designated in Yabiw/Shama in the Western Region.
The proposed investment is estimated at $250 million to $300 million regarding the development of the designated Special Economic Zones.
Mr Michael Oquaye Jnr., the Chief Executive Officer of GFZA, was speaking at the media briefing to launch the 2023 weeklong investment Celebrations in Accra.
This year’s Celebration is on the theme: “GFZA Championing Export-Led Industrial Growth in the Context of AFCFTA and World Trade.”
He said the investment was expected to provide world-class infrastructure such as roads, electricity with a dedicated power plant, sewage treatment plant, container depot, office complex, and residential complex, among others.
He said in addition, the project, when completed, would lead to the creation of thousands of jobs, and increased foreign exchange earnings for Ghana.
The CEO said out of the 217 active companies in the Free Zones enclave, 72 are wholly owned Ghanaian companies, representing 33 per cent, 74 were wholly foreign-owned companies, representing 34 per cent, and 72 are joint ventures, representing 33 per cent.
“This is an indication that Ghanaian companies also have the potential to take advantage of the free zone incentives and make a mark in the international market,” he said.
He said the Free Zones programme had been misconstrued as favouring mainly foreign investors.
Mr Oquaye Jnr. said on the contrary, the Programme was open to all investors, both foreign and local.
“Moreover, with the opportunities that AfCFTA also offers, we are encouraging Ghanaian-owned businesses to take advantage of the 1.3 billion African markets to expand their activities,” he added.
The CEO said the impact of these achievements on the economy could not be overemphasized.
He said the theme was chosen to reflect the government’s focus on export-led industrialization and the AfCFTA implementation.
Mr Oquaye Jnr. said as a country, “we are currently grappling with a balance of trade deficit and the depreciation of our national currency; therefore, we must increase our exports to earn the needed foreign exchange to stabilize the cedi.”
He said an export-led industrial growth was one of the most appropriate strategies to achieve economic development; this had been the mandate of the GFZA.
Thus, the importance of the Free Zones programme in reversing the country’s balance of trade deficit and the depreciating cedi was vital.
He said the Authority recognised the potential of the AfCFTA in attracting market-seeking investments and encouraging local businesses to export to the African market.
The AFCFTA presented Ghana with the opportunity to export to Africa, with an estimated market size of 1.3 billion people.
He said in pursuing an export-led industrial growth strategy and the enormous opportunities AfCFTA and the world at large provide, the problems of unemployment, low export earnings, lack of value addition to our natural resources, lack of diversification of our export products, and being an insignificant player in the continental and global value chains can be solved.
He said regarding their achievements, 39 new companies have been licensed and expected to inject an estimated capital of US$230 million into the economy.
In addition, the estimated export earnings from the 39 companies are US$ 529 million from an estimated production value of US$ 436 million.
He reported that the cumulative exports from the Free Zones enterprise since the programme’s inception stood at US$ 27 billion as of 2020.