The implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AFCFTA) agreement has presented local industries in Ghana the opportunity to contribute significantly to the industrialization agenda of the country.
Mr Albert Kassim Diwura, the Deputy Chief Executive Officer in charge of Human Resource and Administration, Ghana Export Promotion Authority (GEPA), remarked in Bolgatanga in the Upper East Region during the regional conference on the implementation of AFCFTA and the new National Export Development Strategy (NEDS).
Mr Diwura who spoke on behalf of Dr Afua Asabea Asare, the CEO of GEPA noted that with the operationalization of AFCFTA in January 2021, coupled with the rollout of the new National Export Development Strategy (NEDS) would enable businesses to form a synergy to increase output, diversify operations and add value to their products to expand trade.
NEDS, which is a 10-year policy document, designed by GEPA and other relevant institutions is meant to empower businesses in Ghana especially those in Non-Traditional Exports (NTEs) sector to diversify production and contribute to the country’s industrialization agenda.
The conference which is jointly organized across all the regions by GEPA, the Ministry of Trade and Industry (MoTI) and the National AFCFTA Coordination Office was to equip stakeholders and industry players on how to harness the potentials of AFCFTA and NEDS to rake in more revenue.
It was held on the theme, “Empowering Ghanaian businesses to harness the benefits of the AFCFTA agreement under the framework of the NEDS”.
Mr Diwura noted that currently the rate of trade among African countries was about 15 percent which is low and noted that when the interventions of the NEDS were fully implemented and with opening of the market through AFCFTA, trade among African countries would increase and the country was expected to rake in US$525.3 billion in NTEs revenue by the year 2029.
He said in order to fully benefit from the government’s flagship programme of One District One factory, it was expected that “each district in Ghana should develop at least one exportable product that will provide the needed raw materials to feed the ever-expanding numbers of factories being established.”
The Deputy CEO explained that the Upper East Region was noted for its immense NTEs including; baskets, shea butter among others and added that it was imperative for stakeholders in each sector to work together and take advantage of the interventions of NEDS to increase output and quality to expand their market via AFCFTA.
“We know well that in this Region, one of the prominent products we are dealing with at GEPA is the popular Bolgatanga Baskets, which gave us lots of revenue in the industrial arts and crafts and even with the current low trading between African countries, producers of the baskets are not able to meet demand.
So we encourage a lot of synergy, partnership and even if it will mean districts or regions coming together to produce the needed quantity to feed market,” he said.
Dr John-Hawkins Asiedu, Technical Advisor, Industrial Parks and Special Economic Zones, MoTI, with the exception of Eritrea, all other African countries have signed onto the AFCFTA agreement while 32 have ratified already.
“I would like to indicate that the AFCFTA is the largest trade bloc in the world with a single market including duty-free and quota-free, and comprises of 55 member states which has a population of over 1.2 billion and a combined GDP of over US$3.4 trillion,” he disclosed.
Apart from government putting in place the required institutional structures, Dr Asiedu indicated, it has developed a national action plan that would enable the country to harness the full potentials of AFCFTA especially in the area of NTEs.
Mr Frank Fuseini Adongo, the Upper East Deputy Regional Minister, urged players in the NTEs sector in the region to seek the interventions of the NEDS to expand their production, diversify their production, add value to their products to significantly benefit from AFCFTA to help reduce poverty so to contribute to the attainment of the Ghana Beyond Aid agenda.