President of the Ghana Union of Traders Association, Dr Joseph Obeng, has said while the effects of the coronavirus pandemic on businesses are numerous, it facilitated the use of e-commerce in the transaction mix.
Contributing a discussion during the IMANI Africa-GIZ policy dialogue on COVID-19 and its Impact on Ghanaian businesses, he said due to the need to adhere to safety protocols at the height of the pandemic scare, e-commerce has become the new normal.
“What has even become a new normal is the e-commerce that has come; because of these protocols and all that, [it has] urged all the traditional businesses and all that to adopt this,” he said.
He also said between June and July, there was a serious shortage of goods on the market because most of the GUTA members – who import heavily from China – didn’t know where to get the goods to replenish diminishing stocks.
“And looking from within, the manufacturing companies here [in Ghana] and in the sub-region…cannot provide even 10% of our import requirement,” he said.
The one-day policy dialogue brought together top business executives to discuss challenges that the coronavirus pandemic brought on businesses in Ghana and the challenges that are likely to linger on after the pandemic.
The GUTA president, who was among eight top business executives at the event, also said the disruption in social activities and the shutdown of some companies during the lockdown forced some companies to re-align themselves to deal with the new challenge.
“This thing affected the trading community more…” he stressed.
According to the COVID-19 Business Tracker Survey conducted by the Ghana Statistical Service (GSS) in collaboration with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), and the World Bank, the shock caused by the pandemic has had considerable impact on Ghanaian businesses.
The survey results show that, just as the GUTA boss mentioned, the halt in social activities and the restrictions on the movement of people forced many firms to reduce staff hours in a bid to cut costs, cut wages, and in some cases lay off workers.
About 770,000 workers, representing 25.7% of the total workforce, had their wages reduced and about 42,000 employees were laid off during the country’s COVID-19 partial lockdown, according to the survey.
The pandemic also led to a reduction in working hours for close to 700,000 workers, the GSS-led COVID-19 Business Tracker Survey revealed.