The private sector of Ghana has been called upon to match the strides of public sector when it comes to readiness for the Africa Continental Free Trade Area.
Small Scale Enterprises in particular are being urged to build their capacities to be able trade effectively and efficiently by the time trading under AfCFTA swings into full gear.
This clarion call was made by the West Africa Director for civil society organisation, CUTS International, Appiah Kusi-Adomako on the Eye on Port program, in the aftermath of the launch of the National AfCFTA Policy Framework and Action Plan.
He said a study conducted by his organisation assessing the conditions that are needed to allow SMEs take advantage of AfCFTA revealed that SMEs in Ghana lack a robust management system, necessary certifications, export licenses and requisite funds.
“When one is exporting, you should be able to have resources to give some 30,60,90-day credit to give to the importer from the other side. Most of the indigenous SMEs do not have that, even though some of the foreign-owned companies in Tema Free Zone for example have,” he cited.
He said when talking about Ghana’s readiness for AfCFTA, it is necessary to decouple private sector readiness from state readiness; the latter he opined, is way ahead of the former.
Mr. Kusi-Adomako had high praises for the Government of Ghana’s leadership role on the continent when it comes to creating the enabling environment for trading to take off.
He said not only has government hosted the AfCFTA Secretariat, but has been one of the earliest countries to ratify, and now one of the first to develop a strategic policy framework and action plan.
“We have taken a lead among other African countries and largely because the AfCFTA is also the President’s pet child. He managed to get Ghana to host the Secretariat and he is also doing a lot with the 1D1F project. I want to also congratulate the National Coordination Office headed by Dr Fareed Arthur. They have done a good job, in addition to the Ministry of Trade,” Mr. Kusi-Adomako said.
He emphasized that government efforts will only be fruitful when complemented by commitment of stakeholders especially the private sector.
The West Africa Director for CUTS International, urged private sector members to familiarize themselves with the national AfCFTA policy framework in order to align their activities with the vision of government so together they can achieve success.
He explained that while trading in itself has been close to inactive, the public sector has been assiduous in its preparatory interventions to ready businesses for trading.
Mr. Kusi-Adomako said, “knowledge and information is key to make the right decisions. So government, through its agencies, has made sure that people know about AfCFTA, the opportunities inherent, and market intelligence so people can know where their products are in high demand. A lot of sensitization workshops have been held with the support of other development partners and donor agencies.”
Citing the proverbial “Rome was not built in a day”, the trade expert expressed optimism for Ghana’s fortunes in the free market.