Business setbacks such as high cost of power, access to capital, among others, remain a concern for Ghanaian industries, and if the government wants to “win” with the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), it needs to ensure businesses are supported to become competitive, the Accra Regional Chairman of the Association of Ghana Industries (AGI), Tsonam Cleanse Akpeloo, has said.
Government has provided several interventions by way of stimulus packages under the Coronavirus Alleviation Programme. However, the AGI reckons more assistance needs to be provided to sustain businesses when the AfCFTA takes off.
The Secretariat of AfCFTA has officially opened in Accra, a major milestone in the full implementation of the free trade agreement.
Trading under the AfCFTA, which was originally planned for 1 July 2020 and delayed because of the COVID-19 pandemic, will now begin in January 2021, according to the African Union.
Speaking in Accra at the launch of the upcoming 4th Trade and Finance conference, dubbed “The AfCFTA edition”, Mr. Akpeloo said: “We are very thankful for the government for having the secretariat here, and to be fair, government has also reduced the cost of power somehow; but we are asking for further reduction to be competitive across the continent. For us to win, we need to operationalise the many policies that we are talking about.”
According to him, Ghana has competitive advantage in many economic sectors that should enable it succeed with the AfCFTA.
“Clearly, if you take the salt industry, both the petrochemicals and domestic users need salt. Ghana and Senegal are one of the two biggest producers of salt on the continent. In areas like electricians, metal work and others, Ghana clearly has competitive advantage; but it is not enough to have competitive advantage. You need to have systemic programmes and policies that allow you to harmonise and become a leader in this space. We are saying industry needs to be supported greatly by government to take advantage of this.”
The upcoming conference is in partnership with the Accra Metropolitan Assembly (AMA), and the mayor of Accra, Mohammed Adjei Sowah, is hopeful the city will be ready for activities that come with the implementation of the AfCFTA.
“Accra remains the main trading and commercial centre of this country, and over the years we have been striving to make it the gateway to Africa. It is this sort of orientation that inspired the President to spearhead the location of AfCFTA in Accra, and we need to take full advantage of this,” he said.
The Ghana International Trade and Finance conference takes place from October 27-28 this year. It is expected to focus on tariff reforms, physical connectivity, infrastructure, port harmonisation, a single continental digital platform, and a cyber-security platform.
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