The National AfCFTA Coordination Office (NCO) says it is working to support local companies and enterprises with export potential to take advantage of the benefits under the continental trade regime.
Dr Fareed K. Arthur, the Coordinator of the NCO, said about 180 enterprises were being targeted to assess their export readiness.
“Out of the number, at least, 50 companies would be identified and supported to export under the AfCFTA regime,” he disclosed.
Dr Arthur was speaking at a day’s sensitization workshop held for Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) drawn from the Ketu North and South Municipalities of the Volta region under the auspices of the National Coordination Office of AfCFTA with support from the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).
The workshop was part of the Coordination Office’s 2023 Annual Work Plan to boost the participation of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) in the AfCFTA.
It was aimed at encouraging cross-border traders and businesspeople harness the full benefits under the Africa Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA)
Dr Arthur said Ghana’s National Coordination Office of AfCFTA intended to achieve this by undertaking nationwide enterprise export-readiness assessments/audits on selected companies and MSMEs to identify their needs and ascertain what it would take for them to access the AfCFTA market.
“The results of these assessments/audits will determine the technical, financial, and/or capacity-building assistance/interventions that would be provided to the targeted companies to export under AfCFTA,” he said.
Madam Sylvia Senu, a UNDP Economic Analyst said the UNDP was committed to supporting government recovery efforts for MSMEs through an integrated and inclusive MSMEs support programme.
The support programme would strengthen capacity for good corporate governance and awareness creation to prevent Radicalization, Business Development Service Support and Energy and Resource Efficiency Capacity.
“We are working with the Ghana National AfCFTA Coordination Office to build the capacity of the MSMEs and also helping them with mentoring and coaching them to access catalytic funding,” she said.
According to the UNDP, more than 70 per cent of cross-border traders are women and youth and most of whom were significantly and negatively impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic which was revealed by a COVID-19 Business Tracker Survey conducted by the UNDP in collaboration with the Ghana Statistical Service and the World Bank to ascertain the impact of the pandemic on their operations.
“Ghana’s National AfCFTA Coordination Office (NCO) under the Ministry of Trade and Industry hopes its collaboration with the UNDP will help prepare Ghanaian MSMEs tap into the AfCFTA which makes available a market of 1.3 billion people.
“Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) form the backbone of Ghana’s economy, representing more than 90% of private businesses, and employing about 72% of women and youth in the private informal sector and 68% in the private formal sector.
“The importance of the MSMEs sector is even more magnified, employing more than 80% of the workforce and generating 70 per cent of the national output.
“There are multiple, often inter-connected complex barriers to starting and conducting trading on the continent. -These barriers tend to be significantly higher for women and youth-led MSMEs.
“These barriers include issues of limited access to resources (land, finance, etc), and limited access to market information on trade, customs, and border regulations,” Madam Senu added.
The African Continental Free Trade Area provides an important opportunity for women and youth led MSMEs in Ghana.
The agreement’s objectives are to create a single, continent-wide market and enhance competitiveness at the enterprise level.
According to the World Bank, Ghana’s intra-African trade is projected to double under the AfCFTA by 2035, anchored on revenues from value-added manufacturing, with women and youth benefiting the most.
Some participants who spoke to the Ghana News Agency after the workshop, expressed their satisfaction for the insight and hoped that the lessons grasped from the workshop, such as the need to register and acquire business operating certificates, filing of tax returns, complying with the Ghana Standard Authority’s regulations, how to secure funding for businesses would enhance their capacity and boost their businesses and trades going forward.