Some micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) in the Kassena-Nankana West District of the Upper East Region have been engaged to take advantage of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) to boost their production.
The day’s workshop was organised by the National Coordination Office of AfCFTA in Ghana under the auspices of the Ministry of Trade and Industry in collaboration with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) under its integrated MSME support programme.
The move targeted women and youth led MSMEs and brought together producers, processors and exporters of various products including non-traditional export products.
The engagement was part of assessing export marketing potentials in the Kassena Nankana West, Sagnerigu, Kumasi, Sefwi- Wiawso, Jomoro and Ketu South.
Mr. Divine Kutortse, a Programme Officer, National Coordination Office of AfCFTA in Ghana, said MSMEs formed the backbone of Ghana’s economy, employing more than 80 per cent of the workforce and generating about 70 per cent of the national output.
He said more women and youth were involved in the sector especially regarding cross border trading, however, issues of limited access to land, finances and market information on trade, customs and border regulation served as barriers to their businesses and market opportunities.
It was against this backdrop, Mr. Kutortse explained, that the AfCFTA Coordination Office in partnership with UNDP was targeting to assess and support at least 50 local MSMEs that had the potential to export, to build their capacity and financial strength to increase export and take advantage of the market opportunities under the AfCFTA regime.
The Programme Officer said the move was to contribute to the country’s agenda to become an export driven economy through diversification and value addition to raw materials to double Ghana’s intra-African trade by 2035 with women and youth at the forefront.
“Aspiration six of the African Union’s Agenda 2063 envisions an Africa whose development is people-driven, relying on the potential of Africa’s people, especially women and youth.
“Furthermore, to broaden inclusiveness in the operation of the AfCFTA through interventions that support young Africans, women, and Small and Medium Enterprises as well as integrating informal cross-border traders into the formal economy is significant to implement the simplified trade regime.”
“Competitive youth-led firms have the potential to create more and better jobs, and foster production and trade of diversified goods and services across the continent, which, on the one hand, promotes access to a wide range of goods and services and increased income thus ultimately improving the lives of the African people,” he added.
Ms Edem Attor, a Partnership Officer, UNDP, explained that over the years UNDP had been supporting and strengthening MSMEs through various interventions to accelerate growth and access to finances and women and youth had always been the target.
She expressed the optimism that the MSMEs would take advantage of the support to expand their businesses and access the AfCFTA which intends to create a borderless market.
Mr. Gerard Ataogye, the Kassena-Nankana West District Chief Executive, noted that there were lots of MSMEs in the area that needed support to expand and create employment for the youth and women.
He said with district’s proximity to the borders of Burkina Faso, Togo and Cote D’Ivoire, the AfCFTA offered a great opportunity to expand the local economy to help the country rake in more revenue for accelerated development.