The Deputy Minister of Trade and Industry Mr Robert Ahomka-Lindsay has charged Ghanaian entrepreneurs to target at producing for African markets before targeting foreign ones.
This he said was vital for the success and growth of any business as it helped business owners build experience and gather knowledge before penetrating outside markets.
The Deputy Minister said this at a day’s Regional conference organized by the Ghana Export Promotion Authority (GEPA) on the theme, “Empowering Ghanaian Businesses to Harness the Benefits of The African Continental Free Trade Agreement Under the Framework of the National Export Development Strategy (NEDS)".
Mr Ahomka-Lindsay explained, that Europe, North America and Asia were successful in business because, 60 per cent of their trade was among themselves, whereas in Africa it is between 15 and 17 per cent, adding, that it was easier to trade with neighbours than people who are several miles away.
The Deputy Minister called on the private sector and MMDAs to participate in AfCFTA noting that," the private sector builds the economy that is why the government is giving room to private businesses to
He tasked them to produce made in Ghana products for Africa and promote intra-Africa trade since local production reduces cost and make goods affordable.
"In the early stages of covid -19, hand sanitizers became expensive but due to the boost in local production it is now affordable for the average Ghanaian", he pointed out.
Mr. Ahomka - Lindsay explained that the role of MMDA's in the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) was to support the private sector in institutionalizing the one district one factory by facilitating the meeting between manufacturers , Food and Drugs Authority (FDA) and the Ghana Standard Authority(GSA).
The Western Regional Minister, Mr. Kwabena Okyere Darko- Mensah, said Takoradi was the bedrock of Ghana's economy and was strategically placed and opened for productivity.
He mentioned that Ghana has been alive and conscious to the quest for emergence of Africa's economic force into the global scene but information available showed that intra -African trade was low and spans at only 16% as compared to 51 percent in Asia and 54 percent in Europe.
Mr Darko- Mensah said with the introduction of AfCFTA, it was expected that trade among
African countries would increase.
He said 'The National Export Development Strategy' (NEDS) was presenting the opportunity for a substantial increase in manufactured goods and service components of the nations export to attain a projected aggregate of revenue target of 25 billion USD by 2030.
Touching on the theme, the Regional Minister said it was most appropriate and timely and stressed the need for Ghanaians to change their ways of do business, by giving room to private companies to operate.
He pointed out that the private sector creates jobs and businesses which propels Industrial transformation.
Mr. Okyere Darko said It was gratifying that NEDs was private sector led and that it formed part of the government's transformation agenda towards the revitalization and strenghtning of the economy from a raw material commodity export based to an industrial export led one.
The Regional Minister explained that Ghana beyond aid was a call to Ghanaians to create wealth from their own resources and taking the right initiative in providing an enabling environment to boost economic growth.
"I have always had a firm believe that the private sector is key in the achievement of the national transformational agenda and Ghana should take advantage of AfCFTA when it becomes fully operational in January, 2021".
"The Western Regional Coordinating Council (WRCC) is pursuing a private sector facilitation and investment drive as a major component of our enterprise Western Regional programme.
"Propelled by our vast natural resource endowment, Western Region has decided to own the productive assets so that the benefits that are accrued from local businesses could be retained in the region. With this resolve, Western Region is strategically placed to the realization of AFCFTA and open for beneficial partnership for growth and productivity".
Mr Darko-Mensah stressed that, AfCFTA would be successful due to Ghana's political stability
and hospitable nature and therefore no one should doubt its success, urging all Ghanaians to fully participate in AfCFTA.
Dr Afia Asabea Asare, CEO of Ghana Export Promotion Authority (GEPA) also urged stakeholders to take advantage of AFCFTA and trade among themselves as Africans.
She noted that in recent times the Non-Traditional Export Sector (NTES) weak performance and other conditions of trade in the global scene have revealed the risks, weaknesses and uncertainties associated with the dependence on primary commodity exports which has not helped because it is not sustainable.
"It, for this reason, the President called for a complete reorientation of our export of raw materials to value-added products."
Madam Asabea Asare said GEPA was committed to the development and facilitation of exports in general and that no business would be left behind in the AFCFTA Programme
She said GEPA was organizing the regional conferences to engage and sensitize stakeholders before the operationalization of the AfCFTA to foster inclusion.
Representatives from the Ghana Standard Authority (GSA) and the Food and Drugs Authority(FDA) announced they were harmonizing their operations to ensure that Ghanaian producers met the world standards.