Leading members of the private sector in Ghana and Kenya have acknowledged that both countries, considered to be regional economic gateways, have the capacity, economic and investment credentials to transform and expand trade between their respective regional markets.
“Intra-Africa investments and trade are prerequisites for regional and national economic development and growth…In a couple of years, Africa will have more people than India and China combined,” Mr. Robert Ahomka-Linsdey, Ghana’s Deputy Minister of Trade and Industry told participants from Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, Togo, Benin, Cote D’Ivoire, South Africa, Namibia, Sudan, Europe and North America attending the Kenya Trade Expo Ghana 2017 event in Accra this week, as experts from government agencies and the business community converged to examine the challenges and looming opportunities for intra and inter-regional cooperation around Africa.
Trade analysts at the African Development Bank (AfDB) note that trade between African nations stands at around 16%, the lowest amongst other regions of the world.
According to Ghana’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Integration, trade flows from Kenya to Ghana was worth about US$5.3 million in 2016, while Ghana’s exports to Kenya stood at US$2 million.
The African Union (AU) is hoping to boost intra-African trade through the creation of a Continental Free Trade Area (CFTA) by the end of 2017. This should hopefully be the prelude to a Common Trade Market.
With 25 Kenyan projects registered by the Ghana Investment Promotion Center (GIPC) in Ghana between 1994 and September 2017, mostly in the manufacturing sector, “there is no reason why we cannot begin to deepen the trade ties between our respective nations. The political will exists, and manpower and technical know-how are no longer issues,” Ahomka-Linsdey said, explaining that “Africa is richly endowed and brimming with untapped wealth.”
“Even as we continue to trade with Asia and the matured economies, we must now seriously begin to explore and exploit the latent opportunities around the human and material resources within our vast continent.”
Convened by Nana Yao Lee and Leah Nduati Lee, this year’s Kenya Trade Expo Ghana 2017 had as its theme “Breaking New Frontiers in Intra-African Trade”.
The four-day event was held in partnership with the Ghana Investment Promotion Centre (GIPC), the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Trade and Industry, the Ministry of Business Development, the Export Promotion Council in Kenya, and the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Corporation in Kenya.
“This trade expo is a journey of learning and building relationships towards the vision of uniting Africa through trade starting with the Eastern Gateway (Kenya) and the Western Gateway (Ghana),” Mrs. Leah Nduati Lee said.
A Kenya-Ghana Joint Business Council being proposed by her firm will explore pragmatic trade and investment solutions between both countries.
“Our model for the Kenya Trade Expo Ghana is to let every stakeholder in the private and public sector and even social enterprises in the civil society do their part in facilitating investment into Africa.”
Ahomka-Lindsey said the Ghanaian authorities were aggressively implementing pragmatic policies and programmes aimed at fomenting a business friendly domestic economy and structurally strengthening trade and industrial growth; transforming enterprises to create more decent jobs; and reducing poverty thereby improving the livelihood of all Ghanaians.
This was also part of Ghana’s agenda towards attaining upper-middle income country status.
Speaking during the event, Mr. Kiprono Kittony, the National Chairman for Kenyan National Chamber of Commerce and Industry said many western and American companies such as Google, Facebook, Tecno, Netflix, Shell, ZTE were setting up offices in Africa. “Their presence in Africa is not an accident, its driven by the economics of trade, investment flows and profitability,” Kittony said.
Also in attendance at this flagship event were the representative of the Kenyan High Commissioner to West Africa, with concurrent accreditation to Nigeria and Ghana, Mr Peter Karuiki; the South African Ambassador to Ghana, Madam Lulu Xingwana; the High Commissioner of Zambia to Ghana, Mr Rayford Mbulu; the Chairman of Cellulant Corporation, Dr. Sam Kiruthi and the Chief Operating Officer of the GIPC,Mr Carl Nelson.