Accra Aims for US$3.6 Billion in New Exports to Boost Jobs
President J.A. Kufuor of Ghana has launched a public-private partnership to promote exports of textiles, garments and industrial starch from cassava that aims to create nearly 100,000 jobs and earn US$3.6 billion over the next four years.
The initiative will help the country take optimum advantage of trade protocols and agreements such as the United States' African Growth and Opportunities Act and the Cotonou Agreement between the European Union and African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) countries.
The President said the move will help to fulfil a commitment he made in his inaugural speech last year when he pledged to overcome Ghana's greatest enemy -- poverty -- by creating a "golden age of business" over the next decade.
Mr. Kufour said that implementation will be "entirely driven by the private sector," with the Government an "active facilitator and broker". He called the strategy one of Ghana's "best examples" of public-private partnership.
On cassava, which he said has been described as the "humble crop", the President noted that over 90 per cent of Ghanaian farmers cultivate it.
Cassava is easy to grow and highly labour-intensive, with great potential for job creation, he said.
UNDP is providing US $200,000 for technical assistance to kick-start the project, including international and national consultants to undertake market search, training, investment promotion, product development and adaptation, web site development, and project coordination and logistic support.
Alfred Sallia Fawundu, UNDP Resdient Representative, said that Ghana aimed to follow the example of Mauritius and Malaysia, which achieved breakthroughs in garment and textile exports, and the success of Thailand, Viet Nam and Indonesia in exporting cassava starch.
He congratulated the President and his government for ensuring that the private sector "serves as the engine that turns the economy of Ghana around". Mr. Fawundu is the focal point for coordinating and mobilizing resources from the donor community on the project's inter-ministerial facilitation team. A technical support group comprising staff from UNDP Ghana, Enterprise Africa and UNIDO handled initial project planning.
Ghana's economy depends mainly on cocoa and gold exports, which account for about a third of its export earnings. Declining prices over the past three years have had a devastating toll, and lack of other exports is a major cause of poverty.
The initiative aims to develop internationally competitive garment and textile export firms with the potential to generate nearly $3.5 billion in exports and create 71,000 jobs by mid decade. Ten districts with about 25,000 farmers have been selected to grow cassava to produce industrial starch, with projected export revenues of $95 million within four years.