About 70 women and youth-led Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) in the Sagnarigu Municipality of the Northern Region have been sensitised on the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) to empower them to trade under the initiative.
The beneficiary MSMEs specialised in agro-processing, shea processing, and sales of smocks, were taken through topics including, “Ghana’s Implementation Arrangements for AfCFTA”, National AfCFTA Policy Framework and Action Plan for Boosting Ghana’s Trade with Africa”, Market Expansion Programme.”
Representatives of the Ghana Export Promotion Authority, Ghana Standard Authority, and Food and Drugs Authority took turns to make presentations on the business support services they provided and the required certifications that MSMEs needed to facilitate export trade under AfCFTA.
The day’s sensitisation workshop, held in Tamale, was undertaken by the Ministry of Trade and Industry (MoTI) through the National AfCFTA Coordination Office (NCO) in collaboration with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).
The workshop formed part of the Market Expansion Project aimed at harnessing the full benefit of the AfCFTA by supporting women and youth-led businesses with export potential to take advantage of the AfCFTA.
Mr Hamidu Hamza Saana, Northern Regional Trade and Industrial Officer, addressing participants during the sensitisation workshop, urged them to see it as a great opportunity to help build a competitive and resilient export-based economy.
As part of the sensitisation workshop, a team from NCO and UNDP would visit the beneficiary MSMEs to undertake enterprise export-readiness assessments and audits of their operations to identify their needs and ascertain what it would take for them to access the AfCFTA market.
The results of the assessments and audits would determine the technical, financial, and or capacity-building assistance and interventions that would be provided to the MSMEs to export under AfCFTA.
Statistics from the UNDP showed that more than 70 per cent of cross-border traders were women and youth, and most of them were significantly and negatively impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
This was revealed by a COVID-19 Business Tracker survey conducted by the Ghana Statistical Service supported by the UNDP and the World Bank to ascertain the impact of the pandemic on their operations.
Miss Edem Attor, a Partnerships Officer at UNDP said, “As a result of this, UNDP is committed to supporting government’s recovery effort for MSMEs through an integrated and inclusive MSMEs support programme, which is strengthening capacity for good corporate governance and creating awareness to prevent radicalisation.
“The integrated support programme is also providing business development services support including energy and resource efficiency capacity, access to finance and the training on the AfCFTA.”
She added that, “UNDP and partners will continue to strengthen the capacity of MSMEs to accelerate their business growth beyond Ghana and to the One Africa market to drive a sustained and resilient economy.”
Mr Amadu Adam, Member of Yumza Shea Butter Processing Centre, who was a participant, said “This AfCFTA initiative will help us to address most of our challenges. Most times, when we have buyers within the African continent, how to connect ourselves with them is normally a problem.
So, through this initiative, connecting ourselves to the African continent will be easy for us.”
Madam Gafaratu Fuseini, Chief Executive Officer of Queen Gaf Enterprise, an agro-processing firm, who was also a participant, said, “This AfCFTA initiative is very important for my business, because all along I have been trying to export. So, this initiative will facilitate the export market for me, and I know that I will also earn foreign exchange for the country, and that will help me to employ more people.”