AGI GHANA INDUSTRIAL SUMMIT AND EXHIBITION OPENED
The long-awaited Ghana Industrial Summit and Exhibition (GISE) 2021 assembled over 90 exhibitors from various sectors and over 200 conference participants in a summit at the Accra International Conference on Tuesday 17th August 2021.
Dr Yaw Adu Gyamfi, who opened the forum on the theme "Repositioning Ghanaian Industries to leverage the AfCFTA” acknowledged the presence of key ministers, members of the diplomatic corps and other participants and said the theme had set the tone for good dialogue and policy prescriptions that should propel the industry forward.
"I trust that the experts drawn from key institutions will help elucidate on the topics outlined for this Summit".
"Affordable electricity, Ghana’s tariff negotiations and liberalization strategy within AFCFTA and incentives for Industry are major concerns, as all these impacts on our local production and export capacity.
"To do well in AfCFTA, AGI understands the importance of cost of doing business. Leveraging AfCFTA becomes more difficult if our local production and competitiveness are weak," he said.
Dr Gyamfi continued that Ghana had signed a number of other trade agreements such as the interim Economic Partnership and the UK Trade Partnership agreements intended to boost business in the country.
"However, let us not lose sight of the fact that these agreements also come with duty-free, quota-free trade provisions and therefore put some pressure on our local industries as they compete with imports.
"In the midst of all these agreements, the need for the country to adopt an AfCFTA strategy becomes so crucial and paramount for us to survive the looming competition," he said.
He, therefore, urged the Government to expedite action on such AfCTA strategy.
The Deputy Minister of Trade and Industry, Nana Ama Dokua Asiamah-Adjei, representing the sector Minister, said, "I consider the theme for this Conference: “Repositioning Ghanaian Industries to leveraging the AfCFTA” as appropriate as it sheds light on the issues that should be addressed to transform our local industries to enable them to take advantage of the opportunity offered by the AfCFTA to enhance economic prosperity.
"The Government deeply appreciates the resilience of the manufacturing sector and its vanguard role in industrial transformation and job creation."
Ms Asiama-Adjei further noted that the AfCFTA was a potential economic and globalization game-changer as continental trade integration reform was one of the flagship projects under the African Union’s 'Agenda 2063 -Africa We Want.'
She said it would transform the structure of African economies and significantly raise the continent’s share of global trade.
The deputy minister said AfCFTA would boost Ghanaian exports, stimulate investments and innovation, foster structural transformation, improve food security, enhance economic growth, and export diversification, and above all, provide the fresh impetus and dynamism to economic integration of Ghana into the African market.
She said whilst the Agreement provided enormous opportunities for the export and import of goods and services, effective implementation depended on empowering the businesses of all scales – large, medium, small and micro-enterprises to take advantage of the opportunities in intra-African trade.
She said the benefits that would accrue to Ghana from the effective implementation of the AfCFTA in Ghana and across the Member States included better harmonisation and coordination of trade between Ghana and other African countries; adding value to Ghana’s abundant natural resources, and promoting economic diversification and decentralised development.
For his part, Hon. Yaw Osafo-Maafo, the Senior Advisor to President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, extended warm felicitations from the President and commended the AGI for the continuous effort in promoting industrialisation in the country.
"Your continuous efforts in promoting industrialisation of our dear country; your sustained advocacy for an improved business environment through your business surveys, strengthening of private-public dialogue; and your leadership role as the voice of the private sector are remarkable.
"Today, trading in the African Continental Free Trade agreement has started and offers Ghana a unique opportunity to scale up our National Export Development Agenda by trading in this free trade area, "Mr Osafo-Maafo said.
He said export development was at the heart of the government's agenda to help change the structure of the economy because that had serious implications for the cedi and job creation prospects.
The Special Advisor also commended the theme for the summit, adding that "it resonates with our export drive agenda. I expect that our national strategy will help boost our export competitiveness as a key pillar to transform the structure of our economy."
He acknowledged that the country had signed a number of trade agreements in recent years including AfCFTA but gave the assurance that tariff liberalization in the coming years would take cognizance of locally-produced goods and services.
Mr. Osafo-Maafo said the government remained committed to charting a competitive path for the industry and supporting local industry to leverage every opportunity that would come with free trade.
He continued that "as a government, we are happy to see our economy recovering from the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
"The year 2020 was a challenging year, not just for the private sector, but the government as well.
"We have had to quickly adapt COVID-19 mitigation measures to protect lives and keep the wheels of commerce running."
He referred to President Akufo-Addo's famous quotation, "We know how to bring the economy back to life. What we do not know is how to bring people back to life"
Mr Osafo-Maafo said that was reiterated in the Finance Minister's Budget Statement and the Economic Policy for 2021, when he indicated that government revenue was negatively impacted to the tune of 13.6 billion cedis while unexpected and unavoidable expenditures went up by GHc11.7 billion, with the caution that if care was not taken in managing the pandemic and another lockdown occurred, the government could lose close to 18 billion cedis in revenues in 2021.
He said one major challenge facing the country was youth unemployment.
He said unemployment was considered as national security issue for which the government regarded AGI as an ally in finding solutions to youth unemployment.
"I am convinced industry holds one of the keys to job creation. The important role manufacturing and value-addition play in job creation cannot be overemphasized," he said
The advisor said the country's macroeconomic fundamentals had remained quite sound despite the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.
"The cedi has remained relatively stable against the other convertible currencies. Our policy rate has dropped consistently from 25.5% by end of 2016 to its lowest at 7.5% in May before inching up 9.0% in July 2021.
"We do not expect the high cost of credit from the banks to continuously defy our policy rate reduction prescriptions. We cannot be competitive when our lending rates are higher than our trading neighbours.
"The average lending rate in Ghana is about 21% while that of our Francophone neighbours is said to be 6%. Nigeria's is around 16%. Other trading partners in Europe and America are in the region 3% on averagely.
"We need to work at reducing our lending rates to be competitive."
Other speakers at the programme included Mr Julian Opuni, Managing Director of Fidelity Bank, Mr Stephen Amoah, Executive Director of Nuclear Power Ghana, and Dr Ebenezer Tagoe, Deputy Chief Executive (Finance) of VRA.